Google has a number of fantastic, free services. In addition to the popular Google search engine, widely used Google services are Gmail and Blogger. Many people have also taken advantage of Google calendar, docs, and spreadsheets. Each of those Google options allows you to share spreadsheets, calendars, and documents with other users.
Recently I discovered a great new Google tool— forms — which can very nicely be used as surveys or to collect any type of information such as reports, personal data, and so on from various people.
You may send the form or survey to anyone you want; it is not necessary for the recipient to have a Google account. The recipient can respond to the survey questions right inside his email, or people may respond to the survey by clicking on a link in the email and responding online.
Once the person completes the Google form and clicks “submit,” the responses immediately end up on the creator’s Google spreadsheet. Google forms make it easy to collect and organize information from numerous people.
Here’s how to create forms and surveys with Google:
1. If you don’t already have one, create a Google account. This is free, and you can even use your existing email address such as a Yahoo or business email address. To create a Google account, go to docs.google.com and click on the “Get Started” tab. Follow the instructions there, and in no time, you’ll have a free Google account.
2. Once you’ve created your Google account, sign in at docs.google.com.
3. After signing in to your Google account, click on “new” (located at the upper left) and from the menu, select spreadsheet.
4. Next, click on “share” and then chose a title for your form. Click ok.
5. Over to the left you’ll see the words, “invite people,” with the following three options: (1) as collaborators, (2) as viewers, and (3) to fill out a form. Select the third option, “to fill out a form.”
6. Click on “start editing your form.” A window will pop up with the form or survey title, a place to type in a form or survey description (or instructions), and a template for your first question.
7. Choose a question title. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of a question. For instance, your first “question” may simply be “Name” if you want to know who responded to the survey.
8. The next field is an optional place to input help text. This text will appear in smaller print beneath the question. This field can be used to give more explanation to the question.
9. Next, choose the question type. Google forms provide the following four options for the types of questions: (1) Text. This option enables people to type a short response, from a word to a sentence. (2) Paragraph Text. This Google form option provides a place where respondents can type a longer, paragraph length response. (3) Multiple Choice. This option will put a small circle next to each answer you provide for the recipients. A simple click inside the circle enables a person to select the answer of her choice. (4) Checkboxes. Checkboxes are exactly what the name implies – a box people can check next to the answer of their choice. (5) Choose from a list. This option will put the possible responses in a dropdown menu. The survey responder simply makes his choice from the options in the drop down menu.
10. After typing in the question, the optional help text, selecting the question type, and inputting the possible answers (if there are specific answers), click on save.
11. Click “add a question” and repeat steps 7-10 until your form or survey is complete.
12. The final step is to send the form to the people of your choosing. First, click on “choose recipients.” Next, enter the email address of each person you want to send the Google form to. Click on “invite people” and you’re done!
Now that you’ve completed the Google form and invited people to fill out the form, you can sit back and watch as your Google spreadsheet is automatically created and populated as people respond to the form you sent to them.
I really believe that Google now has one of the best ways to gather and organize information through easy-to-create forms. Best of all, Google forms is free!