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Creating an Online Survey on a Shoestring Budget

Today’s guest post is by Lauren Halagarda of The Organization Connection.

OK, really, it won’t cost you a dime…only your time. If you’re a solopreneur, freelancer, or other small business owner, you may find it challenging to collect feedback from clients, colleagues, and prospects. Even more than collecting it, you are frustrated when it comes to organizing, accessing, and sharing it in a way that you are actually able to use the information. You can also use this method as a replacement to the old e-mail spreadsheet, copy & paste method of gathering information from coworkers. And, as I write this post, my husband called to ask “We want to create a course evaluation survey — what’s the best survey service to use?” My answer: “Google Forms.” It’ll do that, too.

There are quite a few paid survey services available like Survey Monkey, Online Survey from Constant Contact, and Zoomerang, some of which even provide limited free access. I’ve used several of them and keep coming back to Google Forms. The paid survey services are pricey if running surveys isn’t your primary business and the data analysis process can be unnecessarily cumbersome and limiting.

Assuming you have a Google Docs account, you are just a few steps away from a finished survey. First, go to the “Create” button in Google Docs and select the “Form” option.

Enter the name of your survey and description, if desired, in the fields at the top. Then, begin creating your collection form or survey by entering the “Question Title” (i.e. question), any help text, and selecting the desired “Question Type,” as follows:

  • Text. Allows your user to enter free-text in short form. While the ‘Text’ option doesn’t limit entry, it does limit the viewing space the user sees.
  • Paragraph Text. Choose this option for comments and long text responses
  • Multiple Choice. Displays all options defined by you, user selects one via radio button
  • Checkboxes. Choose this option to allow for more than one selection from a list you define
  • Choose From a List. Displays drop-down box of a list defined by you, user selects one item
  • Scale. Allows users to rate on a scale from 0 up to 10, you have the ability to choose the numbers (i.e. 0-10, 1-5, etc.) and the labels for the scale
  • Grid. Useful for rating multiple items on a scale up to 5 (in a row & column format) without the need to create an individual question for each.  See the example below. 


Quick Tip: When typing the “Question Title,” you may also want to preface it with a number (e.g., 1., 2., etc.). If you’ll be re-ordering your questions, you may find it easier to add the numbers when you’re finished. Question numbering appears to be one of the only basic features Google overlooked, in my opinion.

Some additional features include the ability to:

  • Make a question required
  • Easily reorder questions by clicking and dragging
  • Add section headers or page breaks
  • Send user to a specific page based on the answer (multiple choice only)
  • Select one of the 97 themes
  • Edit the survey confirmation message

Now you are ready to send your survey out — almost! I highly recommend testing the survey and sending to a few friends for feedback first. Then, when you’re ready, email the survey link, embed it on your website, or share it on Google +, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, etc.


Finally, sit back and wait for the responses to come in… Whether sent in bulk or to just one, over a week or months, one-time or ongoing, responses are collected on your behalf into a spreadsheet. I LOVE this part (yes, I’m flying my geek flag)!! You can sort, filter, and analyze the data.  If you want to see the age of all survey respondents who live in a specific city, simply filter your spreadsheet by “city” (assuming you include these questions in your survey). This is where Google Forms excels — no pun intended — really! And you can’t beat the price.

What do you plan to create a survey for? Please share in the comments.

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About Deb Lee

I'm your guide for all things tech around here. I love to help small & home office entrepreneurs leverage online & mobile technology tools. I don't bite or speak in too much techie lingo. Have a question or a tip? Drop me a line. Check out my new eBook! 50 Tech Tools to Increase Your Productivity and Profitability.

1 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Victoria Cook
    September 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Thanks for the step-by-step info. I’ve used Google Forms once or twice with good results I just don’t do it often enough to always remember how to do it. These instructions will be great to refer back to. I didn’t realize you could post to social media sites too! SWEET!

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