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Get to know your customer and employee needs and wants with Google forms

The days when we had to physically go around collecting data are over. Collecting and analysing data has never been easier.

Customer and employee satisfaction is essential to any successful business. Google forms provides an easy way to collect information with a variety of question types. From multichoice to long paragraphs.

Order form
An order form made using Google forms
Invitation
An invitation to an event made using Google forms

With Google Forms we can carry out our own market research or collect valuable information from customers and employees. All responses can then be stored in one convenient place: a spreadsheet!.

We can also create order forms from customers and receive notifications whenever a form is submitted

Once the form is turned off we can then begin adding formula to the response sheet to manipulate the results

Who has access to our forms?

Business plan users can send out the form to everyone in the organization or selected departments.

For both business and personal accounts: we can add the email addresses of specific people, or post the link to the form on social media and let anyone fill it in.

Embed or publish to the web

Forms, for a variety of reasons, are a basic part of the internet. Using Google forms removes many of the hurdles.

We can embed the form into a website, or publish it to the web and add the link, either to a website or social media.

How to create and format a Google form

Here’s a quick glance of what’s covered in this section

  1. Create a form
  2. Change the form’s name and title
  3. Add the theme colours
  4. Adding custom colours
  5. Previewing your form

Either right-click on an empty space in your folder of choice, or click New in the top left, and select Google Forms. Then click on the top where it says Untitled form and rename your form.

The name of the form and form heading should be the same. We also have the option to add a form description.

Styling your Google form

Newly created Google form

First of all let’s get our form looking just how we want it. While forms do come with a default colour, I think you’ll agree it looks pretty drab. But this is only the start, and we are by no means compelled to use it. We can apply our company colours or even a banner image with our company logo and info.

How to customize your Google Form theme

On the top right of your form window, you’ll notice several icons. Click on the one that denotes a paint palette. The tooltip, which appears when you hover over it, says Customize theme. This will open up the customize panel on the right where there are four points of interest:

  • Header image
  • Theme colour
  • Background colour
  • Font style

Setting your header image

Google provides us with a range of correctly sized themed images. Unfortunately these don’t allow us to promote our brand.

If you want to design your own image, using a program of your own, the best aspect ratio is 4:1. 1600px x 400px will ensure a high quality image. You can easily create your own background image using Google slides.

I created the image used here in Google Forms, then downloaded it. After Choose image in the Theme options sidebar.

I then selected Choose image and from the Select header clicked Upload, before hitting Done.Next up was the theme color.

Setting the theme colours

A quick word about colours. You’ll notice that Theme colour has more options and the ability to add custom colours. The number of background colour options is limited to four and no option to add custom colours.

However: the background colours are set relative to the theme colour, so they change according to the theme. Try changing the theme colour and you’ll see what I mean.

Adding a custom theme colour to your form

You may have an exact colour in mind but find it difficult to set using the Google colour tool. For colours, Google uses the hexadecimal colour system.

You can get an idea of this by clicking on the + at the bottom of the THEME COLOUR section. Below the colour chart you’ll see Hex followed by the colour code

The colour code is editable so we can add our own. There are many colour theme websites where you can search for a colour.

If you have a logo, or any image with the desired colour, you can get the hex code by uploading an image here. then hover over the colour you want before copying the code.

Once you’ve copied the code, return to your form, and replace the existing hexadecimal code. Then click ADD. As well as the theme colour updating, you’ll notice the background colour options also update.

Now we have the layout sorted, we can begin to focus on structuring the questions. But just before we do, here’s a preview of the form in its current state. I’ll discuss previewing later.

Previewing your questionnaire

Preview of a Google form

For convenience it would be better to switch off Required until you’re ready to publish your questionnaire.

To the right of the header you’ll notice an “eye” shaped icon. Clicking this will open up a live version of the questionnaire, and you’ll be able to view it as a respondent would.

If you make any changes to your questionnaire while previewing it you’ll need to refresh the preview window for the changes to show.

Note that, even in preview mode, if you complete and submit the survey, it will be stored in the responses. Don’t worry, as I discuss later, these can be deleted.

Structuring your Google form questions

We kick off with a simple multiple choice, untitled question with a single option. Note the icons at the bottom that allow us to duplicate, delete, or make the question require an answer.

Preview of a Google form

A little about duplicating questions

Duplicating questions is a time saver when you want to use the same options for different questions. All that’s needed then is to edit the question. Something I find particularly useful when creating quizzes.

Although not always, we often group our questions into sections, often starting with user details. Such questions can be marked as required and must be answered before getting access to the next section.

Question types

Broadly speaking, there are variations of two types of questions:

Quantitative questions offer a choice of answers such as multi-choice and checkbox answers. Such questions can be analysed very easily using a spreadsheet for example.

Qualitative questions are open ended questions often asking for suggestions, experiences, and opinions. They will usually require human analysis of the data.

Response collection

Responses from Google forms are stored in a spreadsheet in the same folder as the form, although a specific sheet can be designated. I’ll cover more of that later.

An example of how to create a Google form

Here’s the complete form as detailed below. Note I've turned off the Required option to allow you to move through the sections without having to fill any of the form fields in.

Having created and styled our form, we’re now ready to add questions. The list of reasons for creating a form are almost endless, but to give you an idea, I’m going to guide you through the process of creating a company survey.

Our newly created form will already have some basic fields. Name your form and add a description.

Collecting employee details

Names are a type of open ended question and are usually the first. Notice the form is prefilled with the first question, however this is a multi-choice question which we need to change to a Short answer type. But first of all change Untitled Question to Name.

Then open the dropdown on the right, which initially be titledMultiple choice. Change this to Short answer. On the bottom right of the question, set to Required.

As our responses are kept private, we can also add some type of employee identification. One again again this would be a Short answer and be set to Required.

To save time, you can click the Duplicate icon at the bottom of the question and then change the question title. This saves a little time applying the same settings again.

Google form short answer

We can also add questions using the toolbar on the rightNotice on the right of the question. Click on the + sign to add another question. Now let’s imagine you want to know which department the user is in.

Here we have two options: we can use another short answer question, or a multi-choice one. To enable easy filtering and avoid any errors due to misspelling, I prefer the multi-choice option.

Google form mutliple choice question

When selecting the multi-choice option, you’ll notice that Option 1 already awaits. Complete this and click on Add option. This automatically becomes ready to accept another choice and also adds the ability to add another option below.

Remember to make any questions that will make sorting and analysing Required Continue until you’ve added all your options.

You may also want other details such as position or employee ID number. Once all the user detail questions have been set, we can create a new section.

Creating a new section and rearranging questions

Warning! A new section will always be inserted directly below the active question, which may not necessarily be at the bottom. Deleting the section will also delete any questions in the section.

The best thing to do is to click on the last question before adding a section. After clicking the Add section icon, name the section and add an optional description,

A good indicator as to where the new section will appear is the mini sidebar on the right. This should be to the right of the last question. Try clicking on the two questions we’ve already created and you see it automatically align with the active question.

You can do this if you want to insert a question between two other questions. Wherever the sidebar is, the new question will appear below it.

If you do make this mistake, rather than delete the questions, you can drag and drop them above your newly created section. You can also drag and drop questions within the same section to rearrange them.

To move a question: first of all click on it and notice the six dots in the top centre. Use this to drag your question up or down.

New sections are added by clicking on the last icon on the mini toolbar Then add a title and optional description. We’re now ready to add some questions.

Checkbox answers

Multi-choice questions only allow for single answer responses, however: there may be times when several of the options apply. Checkboxes allow for this.

Google form checkbox type question

Having created the new section, make sure the sidebar is aligned with it, then click the + sign at the top. After this click the dropdown to the right of the question headed Multiple choice and select Checkboxes.

Follow the process detailed above to add more checkbox options.

Linear scale questions

Sometimes we may want to ask for a customer’s evaluation by asking them to rate something on a scale, for example from poor to very good, ranging from 1 to 5.

Still in the same section, and with the last question active: add a new question. Then open the question type dropdown and select Linear scale.

The upper limit, in this case 5, is a variable we can set. We can also add labels to the first and last and avoid any confusion.

Google form linear type question

When creating this type of question, the layout isn’t very intuitive. To view it as a user would, use the preview function. Then you’ll see the question in all its glory.

Google form preview of linear type question

Go to section based upon answer

The final question in this section determines the next question the viewer sees.

Having a question that only requires “Yes” or “No” answers, such as: Is ice cream your favourite dessert? And the next question asking: What is your favourite flavour? Is quite pointless if the answer to the first question was “No”.

I’ll begin with asking a simple yes or no question. However: for this to work we need at least two more sections, which I’ll do next.

Yes or no multiple choice type question

In the above image, notice the three vertical dots dropdown in the bottom right, this only appears when the question is active and I’ll refer to it later.

Depending on their answer to the question: “Would you be interested in telecomputing?” I want to ask a different question, or set of questions. To do this I have to add two more sections.

Now we’re ready to set the “based upon answer” functionality. Go back to the yes or no question and click on it. Then click on the three vertical dots and select Go to section based upon answer.

Options to Continue to next section

By clicking on the Continue to next section we can set the endpoint for that option.

With Continue to next options completed

Currently: if we answer “Yes” after completing the next section we will be directed to the same section as if we clicked “No”. We either want to skip the “No” destination, and redirect to another section, or submit the form.

Showing how to set 'subnit form' after the question has been answered

Below the “Yes” response answer, click on After section # Continue to next section and select Submit form

Google Form responses

The header of a form showing tabs

Responses are automatically saved to a spreadsheet when the respondent clicks Submit. To set the response destination click Responses at the top centre. Responses will also be visible on the responses page.

Unless you’ve already submitted a previewed form, no responses will be visible. Let’s start by completing our test form. Open the form in preview, then complete and submit the form.

View after a form has been submitted

Now we can return to the responses page and see how they’re structured.

I would suggest submitting the form several times, each time with different answers. This will give you a better idea of how the responses are presented.

Here’s a quick tip: if you’re planning to use your questionnaire as part of a report, the charts you see depicting the responses to each question can be pasted directly into your document.

Multi-choice responses will be shown in a pie chart, whereas checkbox responses come in the form of a bar chart. Hovering over the chart will bring up the copy to clipboard icon on the right. Click this and paste it into your document.

Response destination

Popout showing response actions

On the top right of the responses view, click on the green icon. You’ll then be presented with two options. Also notice the Accepting responses setting. If this is off, viewers won't be able to see the form. Instead they'll see a notification saying the form is not accepting responses.

Popout showing response actions
  1. Create a new spreadsheet this creates a new spreadsheet named after the form + responses in the same folder as the form
  2. Select existing spreadsheet this will allow you to navigate to, and select one

To the right of the green icon you’ve just clicked, there’s a three vertical dot icon. Clicking this will allow you to Download, Print, or delete the responses, as shown in the image below.

Popout showing response actions

The first row, or header, will contain all the questions in the order they appear on the form.

Sending out your form

We’re now ready to send out our form to the recipients, as per usual, we have several methods to do so. We’ll begin by clicking the purpleSend button near the top right and open up the send page.

The Google form send dialog box

On the Send via row you’ll see five options, including those two on the far right

  • Email: Sends an email to the respondent with a link to the form
  • Link Provides a link to paste into websites,messages, and social media platforms
  • Embed: Embed the form into a website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Near the bottom left you’ll notice the option to Include form in email. Check this box if you want to embed the form in the actual email instead of sending a link.

In the “To” section add the people’s or group’s email

Settings

At the top of the form, along with Questions and Responses options, you’ll notice the Settings option.

In the settings view you’ll have the ability to make minor modifications and to turn the form into a quiz which will feature in a future guide. For now there are only a couple of features that we need to concern ourselves with. Although you can change some of the others to suit your preferences

Popout showing response actions

Collecting email addresses

We can set our form to collect respondents’ emails in two ways, each with the same outcome.

In the Settings modal, under the Responses label, ensure that Collect email addresses is selected. This will automatically add an email input field for the user to complete.

Preview of automatically inserted email question

The other method lies lower down in the Default section, where you’ll see Collect email addresses by default.

Popout showing response actions

If one of the above methods is used, an email collection question will be automatically inserted at the top of the first section. Here’s how they look in the Form and the Preview.

Email collection question as seen on the Form
Email collection question as seen on the form preview

I said I turned off the Required feature in the example form, but Forms doesn’t allow us to do this with automatically inserted questions. So I created an email short answer question to collect email addresses and turned the auto insert off.

Short answer question asking for email

You can still see the Form I made when creating this guide. All the Required have been turned off to allow you to navigate through the sections without having to answer them.