Creating an event can be the same as creating an artwork. When you plan it, it belongs to you only. But from the moment the event starts, it's no longer your own creation. How is your audience perceiving it? What will they get from it?
The final decision is up to your attendees.
Naturally, you would like to know their verdict to tailor your future sessions better to the needs of your audience. And that is where evaluations come in handy. Usually collected right after an event ends, they reflect immediate reactions to what people have learned.
In the new reality where lots of activities have moved online, various apps and services can be life savers when it comes to collecting feedback and analyzing it.
The number of tools for creating evaluation forms can feel overwhelming: SurveyMonkey, JotForm, Typeform, etc. We have decided to review the most popular programs to see what they can offer and how to use them for the evaluation of events and training sessions.
In this article, we will take a look at Google Forms. It is probably the most accessible tool out of all.
For individual users: free.
For businesses: part of Google Workspace, with Workspace subscription starting from 6$ a month.
Create as many forms as you want and send to as many people as you have to. All you need is a Google account.
On the downside, free users don't have any support. Instead, there are plenty of guides on the net: from Google itself or from other websites (for example, this detailed guide made by Zapier). Google Workspace users can contact support anytime via the channels Google provides.
- All options, except for support, are available on the free version.
- A Google account is required.
Easy to use. Google forms use the same interface as other Google products. If you are familiar with any of their services you will have no trouble using Google Forms. And even if you don't have any experience with Google, the interface is minimalistic and user-friendly.
Menu for configuring the form is to the right, and customization and general settings are in the top right corner.
Easy to recognize. Still, the fact that most people know how Google products look like can play not in your favor. Your respondents will instantly recognize that you are using Google Forms to collect feedback. For some of them, this tool might seem overly simplistic and not very professional.
Conclusion: standard Google interface everyone knows, simple and user-friendly.
How to configure
Thanks to minimalistic interface, the configuration process is simple and straightforward. However, there are some useful settings you might miss.
To create an evaluation form, you should go through several steps.
Choose a template: Google offers you to choose from several templates among which you can find the Event Feedback. If you have not decided on the questions yet, this template might give you some ideas.
To control the process from the start, choose a blank form.
Write a description: before moving to the questions, you can add a greeting message or instructions on how to fill in the form.
Add questions: there are several question types that meet different purposes:
- Short answer and paragraph to ask for attendees' opinion or a reason for a certain choice.
- Multiple choice, dropdowns, and checkboxes to choose from predefined options.
- Scales and grids to rate an event and its particular aspects.
Perhaps, these are the types most useful in collecting evaluations. However, there are more types on the list.
Configure each question: some questions also contain additional settings, such as:
- Description (e.g. instructions for better understanding of the question).
- Response validation (e.g. maximum character length in a paragraph).
- Go to section based on answer, which comes into action when some of the questions depend on the answers to the previous questions (e.g. if you ask whether a respondent would recommend this event to others and they answer No, they will be redirected to the question asking to submit a reason for the previous answer.).
These options help make questions more to the point and prevent invalid answers.
Your attendees will also be grateful to you for saving their time. Because otherwise they might have spent it on guessing or reading the questions that don’t apply to them.
Divide into sections: You can create sections with questions for better comprehension. It’s possible to merge sections with each other and move questions between them.
Customize: header image, fonts, and colors are customizable in Google forms. You can adjust them by clicking on the palette icon in the top right corner.
Duplicate: Google Forms allow you to copy both questions and whole sections, as well as import questions from other forms. If you are planning recurring training sessions, you can copy the whole form. Or you can add your own templates in addition to the basic ones. All these features can save you plenty of time.
- Several predefined templates and the option to create your own
- 11 question types with additional settings, like conditional logic
- Division by sections
- Option to duplicate questions, sections, and the whole form
- Customization options
How to deliver
After you have configured a form, it's time to hit Send. Google delivers the form to attendees via several channels:
- Direct link
- Form embedded in HTML code on a website
- Social media
Using email would probably be the best option as you can ask everyone for their opinion personally. The problem is that you have to add each email to the mailing list manually which can be time-consuming. And what if you left someone out accidentally?
Regardless of what channel you use, the sending process may require additional tune-up. Here are the options we recommend to check in General Settings before you send a form.
- Collect emails. By default, Google Forms does not register who has submitted a form unless you ask a respondent's name or email address in the form itself. Alternatively, you can enable the Collect Emails option after you have pressed Send. Then the required field asking to submit an email will be added automatically.
- Limit to 1 response. With this option, you can be sure that respondents will not resubmit a form. To reply, they will have to sign in with their Google account. But this solution can pose a problem - not everyone has a Google account or wants to use it to submit a form. As a result, some attendees might refuse to send an evaluation at all.
- Restrict to users in this company and its trusted organizations. If you run training sessions within a company and create a form on their custom domain, you can require respondents to sign in with this domain to leave feedback. But it only applies to Google custom domains.
Consider each option carefully to be sure that your attendees will submit an evaluation and that it won’t become a hassle for them.
Other options available in Settings: adding a progress bar to the form and enabling notifications about new responses. The last one comes in handy if you need to send certificates to those who give you their feedback.
- Evaluation form can be sent either via email or by sharing a link
- The process of delivery and response collection can be adjusted
- Possible difficulties: receiving anonymous responses, a form can be resubmitted, respondents may need a Google account
How to analyze
Compilation. The evaluations your attendees submit will be stored in the Responses tab of the form. Google calculates the number of times each option was chosen and adds charts for some questions for clearer representation.
Conversion to a different format. It's possible to convert responses to a spreadsheet or download them as a .csv file.
Data in a spreadsheet is not always easy to analyze, especially if you have long questions. Because questions are added to the columns as-is and it makes column names too long. If you could label each question and then use these labels for column names, it would have been easier to go through the content of the spreadsheet.
Data comparison. Unfortunately, Google Forms don’t offer any tool to compare the evaluation results of several training sessions or to match the responses with other information you have (e.g. history of events for a single attendee or ratings left by them before). You have to do it manually.
Editing. There is an important thing you should keep in mind - if you decide to delete a question from a form, the responses for this question will be deleted as well. And you might lose important data.
Disabling. After everyone has submitted their feedback, you can toggle off the Accepting Responses option to disable the form.
- Responses for each question are compiled automatically
- Results can be converted into a spreadsheet or a .csv
- In some cases, data in a spreadsheet may be difficult to analyze
- No tools for comparing the responses from several forms with each other
- Form can be disabled when no longer needed
Privacy and accessibility
The link you are sending to respondents allows them to see only the Questions part of a form. They do not have access to Responses. And of course, they cannot edit questions, just reply to them.
How to share access? Unless you give access to other people, only you can edit the form and see responses.
If you want help, you can share the form with collaborators. The sharing process for Google Forms is different from other Google products. Instead of hitting Share, you should click on the icon with three dots in the top right corner and choose Add Collaborators. Here you can add emails of those who you want to ask for help.
And if you click Change, you can give access to all people who use the same company domain or to anyone with the link.
- Respondents can see only questions, not the answers
- By default, only the creator can edit the form and see responses
- A creator can add collaborators who will be able edit and view responses
Google Forms themselves contain only the basic options to create forms. But who says you have to limit yourself with them? By clicking on the icon with 3 dots, you will discover lots of add-ons significantly expanding your possibilities.
- Add-ons and integrations can give you additional functionality
- You have to spend some time to find the add-on you need and learn how to use it
Google Forms are a pretty simple tool, both in the visual side and the features it offers.
With it, you can:
- Create evaluation forms from scratch or use templates
- Customize forms
- Add different questions types with conditional logic and response validation
- Copy forms for recurring training sessions
- Import questions from one form to another
- Deliver a form to your attendees via various channels
- Compile responses into charts and diagrams
- Convert responses into a spreadsheet or a .csv file
- Share access with other people
- Extend basic functions with add-ons
Still, there is room for improvement:
- Customization options are limited. No matter how you customize your form, it’s a standard Google product everyone knows
- If not configured properly, the Forms will not register who has submitted an evaluation
- Another mistake in configuration - and respondents will be able to resubmit the form several times
- To enable certain options, you need to be sure that your attendees have Google accounts
- There is no tool for matching responses with other data or comparing results of several training sessions
- Options for data compilation are limited and might not be enough for a deeper analysis
If all you are looking for is to collect feedback, Google forms have everything you need. However, if you want more complex solutions allowing you to automate the sending process and data collection, you might consider the alternatives.
We will take a look into other tools for collecting evaluations in our future articles and see what they can offer that Google cannot. Stay tuned!