Garanimals Blog

June 21st, 2011 at 5:00 am

Google Forms to the Rescue

A few weeks back I did a post on Google Docs and told of the benefits of using a cloud-based document software suite. Today I’d like to expand upon one of the coolest features of Google Docs.

One type of document you can create is a form. Forms are useful. Forms are also annoying. Collecting data from forms is even more annoying. Typically someone fills out a paper form and someone else has to compile all of the data into a spreadsheet or other system by typing in the data manually. For those of you on the receiving end of the paper forms, Google Forms is a brilliant solution.

Say you’re the keeper of the emergency contact info for your child’s soccer team, scout troop or other organization. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could provide the users with an online form that will collect all the data in one place for you? Well you can.

You create the online form by choosing Create New/Form from you Google Docs home page. Add your questions, give it a nice theme, name it and you’re almost there.

There are multiple types of questions. Text, multiple choice, check boxes, scale, grid, etc. Customize your form to gather all the appropriate types of data you need, make questions mandatory if desired, and give helpful hints for answering.

What Google Docs does with the form as you create it is structure a spreadsheet with the appropriate column headings behind the scene. As people submit their responses from the online form, the spreadsheet records are populated automatically. NO TYPING.

To share your form, do the following:

  • Open the form you just created from the Google Docs home page
  • Go to the Forms drop down menu
  • Click on Go to Live Form
  • Copy the url from the live form page
  • Paste the url into an email or put it on a website
  • Ask you recipients to fill it in and submit
  • Go back to the form/spreadsheet in Google Docs and view the results

Hint: Don’t share your form. If you do, your responders will all have to have a Gmail or Google account to access the form. If you use the link to the live form, anyone can access it.

Once your data is there you can sort, total, organize, filter, and manipulate as you wish. As more people fill in the form, the data keeps coming in. It even records a timestamp for each submission to help you track the responses.

To see an example of a user survey I created for this post, click here. Feel free to fill it out (it’s anonymous) if you’d like to share a little info about your technology usage. I’d love to know a little bit more about you my reader.

Thanks and have a great week! Summer’s here!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

 

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