Playing Around with Google Forms

The other day I noticed a new feature on Google Docs. When I tried to created a new document, it gave me the option of creating a Form.

I was curious, so I started playing around with it and realized that Google Form is a simple, powerful, and free way to create online surveys which can be emailed to anyone or embedded in a blog or website. All the responses are captured in a Google spreadsheet, and charting features make it easy to see the results.

I’m writing a magazine article about business, social networking, and Twitter, and decided to post a Google Form survey on this page. But it didn’t work. My blog is powered by Drupal now, and I can’t find a way for it accept HTML code right now, so I’ll have to link to the survey instead. So here it is:

Please take this survey using Google Forms. 

I emailed one to all my employees last week and got 32 answers in just a couple of days. It was so easy to do. I am currently looking for a way to ask questions to some of our 300,000 Daily Active Users on our We’re Related Facebook application, and I consider Google Forms the leading candidate right now. It offers free-form text responses (one line or paragraph), multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale (1-n) responses. Most importantly, it integrates into my daily work flow, since I live in gmail and google docs, and is super easy to use.

I was going to start use before I came across Google Forms.

I’d like to know what tools or sites you use for doing email surveys or embedded online surveys, and if you have tried Google Forms. If so, are you going to switch?

16 thoughts on “Playing Around with Google Forms

  1. No Drupal developer is needed to add the Drupal poll module. Drupal ships with the poll module. Just go to and find the poll module under “core-optional’. Enable the module by clicking its checkbox then submitting the form at the bottom of the page. Then you can create Polls much like you create blogs.

    The poll module does only basic polls — much like the one you did through Google docs. A Drupal poll would be nicer as then the results will display in your blog.

    BTW, I’d guessing your problem with embedding the Google survey resulted from using the wrong input format. When you create a new blog post, below the body form there’s a place where you can select the input format for your blog entry. The default input format is “Filtered HTML” which, as the name suggests, filters some less common HTML tags and those considered more dangerous. Odds are that Google Forms uses an HTML tag that “Filtered HTML” filters out. If you select “Full HTML” as your input format, then you shouldn’t have any more trouble embedding a form. That certainly tripped me up a few times back when I was new at Drupal.

  2. I’m a big fan of surveymonkey. It’s easy to use, and all of my surveys are stored in one place. Also you can share certain levels of detail in responses to individuals — more on a need to know basis. That appeals to me as well.

  3. I love Google Forms. We use it for client feedback as a matter of standard practice at the close of each project.

    If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more robust and completely customizable, I would strongly recommend SurveyGizmo.

  4. I wasn’t aware of the Drupal poll module, but I’d have to hire my Drupal developer to implement it, and I’m trying to be cheap. On the other hand, I’ll have to hire him in order to make Drupal accept my HTML code so I can embed polls, so this might be a good way to go.

    Can anyone compare the Drupal poll feature with Google Forms, or other online survey tools?

  5. This is a great aspect of Google Spreadsheets I never knew, thanks for revealing it to me. Spreadsheet apps did always have forms and stuff, but I never found them useful on the offline ones. When it meets SaaS spreadsheets – it’s really a whole new ball game!

  6. Thanks for highlighting this, Paul. It’s always good to have alternatives. With the comments this has become quite a resource for those wishing to do surveys. I was wondering how the various alternatives prevent multiple votes. Is that always built in or is that a worthwhile subject for a follow-up post. Thanks in anticipation. 🙂

  7. Inasmuch as Google Docs and Open Office are an important part of the OASYS effort; and inasmuch as OASYS is already trying to define and implement data structure standards governing how we represent the names of people and places in the internet (sort of like the semantic web initiative over at W3c); and inasmuch as the sematic web initiative could potentially change blow the doors open for web based genealogical research; I think it’s important to support Google Docs, even if a custom solution would be a better fit for your the specifics of this blog.

  8. I’ve been using blog flux polls

    Seems to work well apart from word press constantly trying to remove the script from my article if I usual the visual editor to make changes to it.

    Can you make the google forms results automatically show on a website?

  9. I use Zoomerang for all my surveys. Their free account has always been sufficient for my needs, although I did upgrade my membership for 2 months when I had a large research project to complete. I have tried them all (Zoomerang, Google Forms, SurvyGizmo, SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy,…) and always go back to Zoomerang. Their templates have saved me so much time, just few tweaks and it is good to go. I have also found some helpful survey tips on their webiste and on their blog.

  10. google forms works pretty well for simple surveys or capturing registration for events, we use it a lot for event-registration at our employee benefit club at my company.

    I normally add rows in the top of associated table for the google form, summing up vital stats from the entries, e.g. number of registration per event day, number of people, type and number of tickets etc.
    Works perfectly the second choice for more complicated forms /registrations

  11. Driving poll data to Google Forms is one thing, but some real power comes after collecting the information.

    You can instantly have the output in spreadsheet format in Google docs, which means you can SHARE the output selectively with other individuals, export and email the results to someone or your team, add charts/graphs to the spreadsheet to run immediate analysis, or choose to publish as HTML, XLS, Tab or Comma-delimited data which can be consumed by your favorite data-aware application or web service to do some really interesting things.

    At a career fair last fall, I realized there was no easy way to have potential job candidates enter their OWN information (we were collecting paper resumes and then inputting their information BY HAND)

    I fired up Google Docs and, within minutes had a form ready to rock. I pasted the forms own URL in the “thank you” page so people could go back after completing, and put the laptop on the table where candidates could simply and easily fill out their own career interests.

    Back at HQ, the data is simple and easy to use because its available in such a wide variety of data formats (especially Excel) without a huge rig-a-ma-roll. No developer (or even Drupal) required!

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