Using Google Forms to gather website feedback

It seems like for almost anything you want to do online these days, Google provides a way to do it. It might not always be the best way, or the neatest, but it is likely to be good enough, and it is likely to be free.Recently a friend was building her first website for a while, and realised that the way she used to build a voting form was out of date. She was building a flat HTML site, not using a content management system. If she had been using something like WordPress or Typepad, she would have been able to choose from a number of plugins or widgets that would have done the job, but she didn’t have that option. I suggested two approaches.

  1. Use a service like User Voice that lets you embed their code in your page. This has a free version that allows a limited number of votes per month.
  2. Create a Google Docs Form, and gather responses in a Google Docs Spreadsheet.

She went for Option 2. Here’s how it worked. (This assumes you already have a Google Docs account. If not, you can sign up for free.)

  1. In Google Docs, choose New > Form.
  2. In the Edit Form screen that appears, you can give a title and description, and enter the questions you have. You can choose from text, multiple choice, a scale, a list or checkboxes, each with a question and help text.
  3. I’ll not go into detail here, because the process is pretty straight forward. Have a look at the video to see the steps.
  4. Choose More actions > Embed to get the HTML you need to show the form in another web page.
  5. Copy the HTML and paste it into your site.
  6. Users can now go to that page and fill in the form. Their responses will be saved in a Google Spreadsheet for you to review at your leisure.

Screencast of the whole processAs an aside, this is the first time I have created a screencast using Jing. Next time, I’ll try not to make it so enormous, and make fewer typos.Let me know what you think, either about the use of Google forms for gathering feedback like this, or about screencasting tips.