Screen shot 2010-03-30 at 5.05.15 PMI wrote about this two years ago. A lot of you weren’t reading this blog that long ago and those of you who were might want to take a second look at this. It’s just way too cool of a feature.

Let me throw out the situation you might have found yourself in.

  • You’re putting together a volunteer meeting and you want people to sign up to come. You want to ask them if they’re coming, what they’re bringing and if they have kids who will need childcare. You don’t want to use Evite because quite frankly, too many people avoid Evite due to it’s add plastered pages and you don’t want your invite to get lost among the other evites you’re volunteers tend to ignore. Your check in software offers registration, but you don’t want people to have to sign in, register or anything like that. You want easy.
  • Or what about when you want to gauge interest about a possible curriculum, and event or retreat? You could send an email out to everyone, but then you’d have to sort through all the emails that come back. You’d like a quick way to sort your answers and see the results live as they happen in an easy to manage system.
  • What about when you’ve got 50 kids coming to camp and you realize you forgot to ask what T-shirt size the kids need. Again, you could email, but then it would be a hassle to sort through all the emails.

Have you ever found yourself needing a tool that will do all those things? Yeah, I know there are tools out there that do this, but not a lot that can do all of these pretty well, and for free. It’s called Google Docs.

Yep, it’s “forms” from Google Docs and I’m going to demonstrate how beautiful it is right here, before your eyes.

When selecting what kind of Google Doc you want to create, you can choose a form. You just build the form with the questions you want to ask and how you want them to answer them. You can create sections with headers and all that stuff. Once you’re done, you have several options. You can email the form to someone (they can answer the form right from your email… although I’ve had some complications with this before). You can send them a link to the form (it lives at it’s own webpage you can point people to). Or, you can embed it on your own website or blog and just direct people there (which is what I usually like to do).

All the results populate a Google Doc spreadsheet that updates as people complete the form. I can share the spreadsheet with multiple people so they can see it in action as well. I’m just so amazed more people aren’t using this, I use it all the time! So, I’ve created a form so you can see how it works. Click here to leave this page and visit the form that Google is hosting. You don’t have to have any web/blog skills to do this.

Below, I’ve embed the form in this blog post so you can see what it looks like. I can change the dimensions of the embed code so it fits perfectly. Last of all, I embedded the spreadsheet the form populates below the form. This way you can see how the form populates the spreadsheet. Is that freaking cool or what? Try it out. Leave a comment to say how cool this is!

Don’t forget to look at the results below the form. You may have to refresh the page or wait a few seconds to see your results, but they’re pretty quick.

Okay, never mind. The embedded spreadsheet doesn’t seem to want to update the results. You can look at the results here. Sorry it’s not as totally cool as I hoped it would be, but this should keep you form wanting to use the forms, right?