Introduction to Google Forms

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October 7, 2008 // Web

More Google-related posts?  See how to become a Gmail Power User in 10 Minutes.

Google recently released a revolutionary gem into its increasingly robust Google Docs platform.  Meet Google Forms: a flexible form and survey development interface with built-in reporting.  Why is this significant?  Well to start, it means the days of SurveyMonkey are numbered.  While still in its infancy, Google Forms is the start of an incredibly versatile data collection framework. How long did SurveyMonkey really think people were going to pay monthly fees to store infinitesimal tidbits of survey response data?  Survey data is far from being difficult, nor costly, to store. How to create your first Google Form:

1.  Navigate your browser to docs.google.com and log-in 2.  Go to the menu labeled “New” at the left and select “Form”

Select "Form"

Select “Form”

2.  A new Google Form has been created.  Click to edit the title and description, then click “Add question”

Add question and select "Choose from a List"

Add question and select

3.  Edit the question text and list the possible responses.

Fill out first question and hit “Done”

4.  Click “Save,” then click the link at the bottom of the page to view your published form.

Click survey link at bottom of page.

See how your form looks to the public

See how your form looks to the public

5.  After people have filled out your form, you can view analytics for your form data by clicking “Show Analysis” in the edit form view.

View Form Analytics

Click on “Show Analysis”

View analytics of your form

View analytics of your form

6.  All of your form responses are stored in a Google Spreadsheet, which can be easily exported to .XLS/.CSV for making custom graphics in Excel.

Google forms is still a little buggy, and therefore should not be relied upon for any misssion-critical projects.  That being said, most people will undoubtedly be able to get a lot of use out of Google Forms in its current state, and I look forward to seeing it improve as Google further refines this up-and-coming product. Goodbye SurveyMonkey; may your childish interface rest in peace.



About the author

Co-founder, Managing Partner, Nutritionix.com

39 Comments

  1. I’ve been using Google Docs since the begenning, but unfrtunatley it’s not so user friendly as WuFoo or PHPForms (cheaper alternative)

  2. I would like my form (a quiz) to be self-correcting. How do I tell the form to determine whether each answer is right or wrong so the students see the instant feedback and can try again if need be?

  3. Matt,
    Can you direct me to someone who can help develop Google forms for my business? I could use a form to log requests for uniforms, maintenance needs, training, customer complaints, and a customer feedback survey, for starters.

  4. Thanks for this Google Forms explanation. It is a help for beginners, and I am adding this link to my wiki for teachers.

  5. Are you trying to print the blank survey template, or are you trying to print the template populated with each person’s response?

  6. There does not appear to be any limit to number of respondents. I have not found a way yet to make any conditional or branched questions, though this would be an incredibly helpful feature.

  7. As far as I can tell, the authentication can only be done with Google Apps accounts, and even then, you can only restrict it to people in your same domain.

  8. Hi Matt –

    i see that you are google enthusiast. I just used the form function from google for the first time and I need to export it as a doc (Word or such) to submit it for my class. But I do not know how to export it. It only gives me a lame, very ugly spreadsheet, but what I need is the form itself, in Word format.

    If you know how to do this, please help!!

    Cheers,

    S

  9. I am new to Google Forms. As far as I understand, it is not intended to replace online survey sites. So branching question type features will spoil its simplicity. Simple is beauty and that’s what Google form is to collect data online as a single spreadsheet. My company has more that 800 branch offices. I can design a Google form and get the data from all 800 units as a single spreadsheet. If it were 800 separate spreadsheets and I had to compile them into a single, with the possibility of garbage data, it would be a night mare for me. Thanks Google forms. However I need Google forms to have user authentication features so that only authorized users can submit data using Google forms. Can it be done using Google forms currently? If anyone knows please let me know.

  10. SKIPPING: any limit to the number people who can respond to the survey? Is there a way to create branched questions? i.e. if you answer yes, skip to question #5. Is there any way to prevent people from responding more than once?

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  13. why don’t u use dreamweaver or some wusiwug program. is easy

  14. Thanks, Matt! I accidentally came across this post and I found out about this feature of Google Docs. Now I am going to try it.

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  16. Surely Google will take over Wufoo and others, like Doodle – simply they have the user base of no other.

  17. I agree with Tim, you say that this Google tool will finish Survey Monkey, but as Tim already said it was said the same about Youtube and at the end Google prefered to buy Youtube, I’m not pretty sure about google monopolizing the whole Search World. it simply can’t buy all the competition.

  18. Interesting view, however I think the issue of web forms is much broader than you think. From my perspective a very great need for forms is to capture data and then make that data available to another application at the api level, ie bypassing the need to export in csv or xls and have program to program interaction. In order to do this properly you also need advanced notifications of collected data and a query function that will allow users to do different things with the collected data. I don’t feel at this point that Google is intending to go down this path.

  19. Many thanks for the inspiration, I have made the same sort of article on my blog as well!

  20. Love the Survey Monkey. Hail Google Forms!

  21. Shahriar Hyder June 1, 2009 at 6:08 am
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  24. I use it to find out how guests get on when they stay in my holiday apartment in Tavira, Portugal and it works a treat as a simple, light-weight solution.

  25. Matt, I linked to your walkthrough in a post on my education blog.

    Thanks!

    http://is.gd/k2Hw

  26. Thanks, Matt! This is a great tutorial. I really needed it.

  27. I have the same questions that post #11 has. If Google can solve these I think the form feature in Google sheets can be very useful to a number of people. Please keep me posted if anyone finds out if Google enhances the form feature.

  28. It is very unlikely google will replace products like surveymonkey or mySurveyLab.com

  29. Is there any limit to the number people who can respond to the survey? Is there a way to create branched questions? i.e. if you answer yes, skip to question #5. Is there any way to prevent people from responding more than once? When you send out the link to all the e-mails, is there anyway to require people to enter a coded identifier?

  30. I prefer Wufoo than this.
    More flexible and easy to use.

  31. Google are simply building a hosted version of sharepoint really

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  33. great post, this is the first i’ve heard of this. yes, it doesn’t provide all the features of the competitors, but it’s *free*. financial analysts don’t use google news, they use bloombergs, and pay for the privilege. similarly, anyone that wants complex, business-critical surveys is obviously not going to use a free google product, just as they don’t use google docs in the office. i don’t think the complaints above about complex features are really an issue, as it’s clearly not the target market. i’d be sweating if i was in the online survey business though :)

  34. Wow, oh my godfather, what complex logic and routing you demonstrated, SurveyMonkey is clearly outgunned and nobody will ever pay for them again!!1!

    Talk about facile.

  35. Although they have some similarities forms and surveys are two completely different things.

    Surveymonkey’s interface may not be the best, but neither is Google Forms, which lacks the advanced features needed for surveys.

    There are plenty of new survey websites with better interfaces than Surveymonkey and more features than Google Forms, like for example http://youaks.com which has a very easy interface.

  36. Tim:

    “Revolutionary” in that no other sites (that I have come across) have come close to offering unrestricted data collection at no charge. Why would you use this instead of Wufoo? To start, if you want more than:

    * 1 User
    * 3 Forms
    * 3 Reports
    * 10 Fields
    * 100 Entries / Month

    As that is what Wufoo limits you to unless you cough up your credit card for a monthly fee.

    “Increasingly robust” refers to the marked improvements Google has been making to the Google docs platform over the past few years. It still has a way to go to compete with MS Office, and Open Office, though.

  37. check this out
    http://www.formassembly.com

    support for linked/ conditional questions, user form tracking, notification settings, time zones, etc, and the option to dload the code, or dload the page itself.

  38. “Google recently released a revolutionary gem into its increasingly robust Google Docs platform.”

    “Revolutionary gem”? “Increasingly robust”? What do these things mean in this context, anyway?

    “Meet Google Forms: a flexible form and survey development interface with built-in reporting.”

    Looks pretty lame compared to Wufuu.

    “Why is this significant? Well to start, it means the days of SurveyMonkey are numbered.”

    Just like Google Video meant the days of YouTube were numbered? If Google’s idea of entering a market mean “stumble around like fools for a little while, then pay $2 billion for the other guy”, I bet they’re pretty happy right now.

    “While still in its infancy, Google Forms is the start of an incredibly versatile data collection framework.”

    Still not sure why I’d use this instead of Wufoo, but whatever.

  39. I’m skeptical about how far Google will go with this. There’s a tension between power and usability, and in my experience with Google Docs, my sense is that simplicity and usability usually wins out.

    I don’t anticipate seeing support for linked/conditional questions, user form invite tracking, or complicated data validation anytime soon.

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