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Google Forms: Origin, Features, and Capabilities

Google Forms is a free web-based data collection tool that allows you to create surveys, polls and questionnaires to gather relevant feedback from your audience. Anyone with a Google account—personal or professional—can use Google Forms for data collection. 

This data collection tool started as a Google Sheets add-on tool in 2008 before developing into a stand-alone tool in early 2016. Due to the popularity of its parent company as one of the most critical workspace tools, Google Forms is an important part of many organizations' tech stack.

In recent times, however, more versatile survey tools like Formplus are fast-becoming industry favorites. Let's look at some of the features of this data collection tool. 

Features of Google Forms 

  1. Mobile-responsive forms
  2. Form templates
  3. 12 different form fields
  4. Conditional logic
  5. Export data as CSV
  6. Google apps integrations
  7. Drag and drop form builder 
  8. Form customization options

Limitations of Google forms

While Google Forms supports basic features for data collection, it has quite a number of limitations that can affect how you collect and process data. In this section, we'll go through some of these limitations. 

  • No Offline Forms 

You always need access to the internet to create, view, and submit a Google Form. This means you cannot use this tool to conduct surveys in remote areas or places with poor internet connections. 

  • No E-signature Field

You cannot collect digital signatures from respondents in Google Forms directly. You'd have to find a workaround through add-on applications or replacing digital signatures with the respondent's initials. Of course, the latter depends on the complexity of your data collection process. 

  • Limited Templates

A robust templates' library puts you many steps ahead when it comes to data collection. Instead of building forms and surveys from scratch, you can simply edit existing form templates and ship them out on time.

While Google Forms has a template library, there are only a handful of options here for simple use cases. For instance, you wouldn't find templates for consent forms or incident report surveys. 

  • Limited Form Customization Options 

There's only so much you can do with Google Forms in terms of customization. It has a few themes and you cannot create custom form themes from scratch. 

Due to these limitations and some others not mentioned in this article, many organizations are switching to Formplus for more efficient and seamless data collection. 

Formplus vs Google Forms

As a more modern data collection platform, Formplus has a range of features for more complex data gathering needs. Let's see how it compares to Google Forms. 

  • Offline Forms

Unlike Google Forms, Formplus allows you to collect form responses in offline mode. This means respondents can fill and submit your surveys and questionnaires even when they are in remote areas or in places with low/poor access to the internet. 

  • Form Fields 

Formplus has more than 30 form fields that you can use to collect data in different formats. You can add text fields, numerical fields, rating and multi-choice fields, and advanced field options for images, e-signatures and payment integrations. 

Google Forms has only 12 fields so it isn't the best choice for complex data collection use cases. 

  • Templates Library

Formplus and Google Forms have template libraries containing pre-built forms for different industries and use cases. However, the Formplus library is more robust with more than 1,000 ready-to-use form templates. 

For instance, you'd find form templates for health questionnaires, market research, incident reports and the like. All you need to do is choose a template and tweak it to suit your needs in the Formplus builder. 

  • Online Signatures 

With Formplus, you can collect digital signatures right in your surveys, reports and questionnaires. You only have to add the e-signature field to your form, and you're good to go! Formplus saves submitted signatures as images, and you can access them whenever you want. 

On the other hand, Google Forms doesn’t have an e-signature field. So, users have to create workarounds like collecting initials in text fields in the place of digital signatures or using digital signature add-on tools for this purpose. 

Google Forms vs. Microsoft Forms 

Like Google, Microsoft also has a data collection tool for creating and launching surveys in different contexts. So how does Microsoft Forms compare to Google Forms, and is it worth a try? Let's find out! 

  • Form Fields 

Google Forms supports more form fields and question types compared to Microsoft Forms. For instance, you can create forms with multiple sections and conditional logic right in Google Forms. 

  • Subscription/Pricing

Microsoft Forms has a free version and a paid version. Certain features like adding form collaborators only work for people with a paid plan. With Google Forms, you don't need a paid plan to pull this off. 

  • Templates

Like Google Forms, Microsoft Forms has a limited templates library with a few options to choose from. You can modify these templates to suit your unique needs and preferences. 

  • Themes

Compared to Google Forms, Microsoft Forms has more exciting themes for form customization. If you’re a stickler for graphic themes that carry through the entire form, Microsoft Forms may be a worthy investment for you. 

  • QR Codes

Microsoft Forms has the QR code option which means you can send out surveys, questionnaires, polls and the like as QR codes. With QR codes, form respondents only need to scan the code to access and fill your surveys and polls. 

FAQs On Google Forms

How to make a Google form public but not editable

The first thing to know here is sharing your form and sending it to respondents are different things. If you share your form with respondents, it's very likely that they'd receive the editable versions. Here's how to avoid this:

  1. After creating the form or survey, click on the "send button" just beside the settings icon.
  2. Click on the "link" icon and copy the URL. You can also shorten the URL before sharing. 

If you want others to be able to see responses and edit the form, you can share it with collaborators. 

How do I share a Google Form with non-Gmail users? 

Depending on your Google Forms settings, respondents can access any forms you share even if they do not have a Google account. All you need to do is copy the form link and share it with them. Alternatively, you can share the form link via email invitations. 

I can't submit my Google forms. Why? 

This happens for several reasons but the most common one is the respondent hasn't filled out all the required fields in the form. If the problem persists, try clearing your cache and reloading the form. 

Which browser is best for Google Forms?

Opera mini and Google chrome are the best browsers for viewing and filling out Google forms. 

Google forms not working on mobile: How to solve

Google Forms supports mobile optimization so ordinarily, you should be able to view and fill your forms right from your smartphone. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. 

There are several things to do if you can't access Google Forms on your mobile device:

  1. First, re-open your browser and refresh the page.   
  2. Clear your browser's cache and cookies
  3. Turn off any plugins and extensions then reload the page
  4. Try opening the page using another browser 

Google Forms not loading: How to solve

In some other cases, you wouldn't be able to access Google Forms on any device—including your laptops, tablets and mobile phones. 

This is quite similar to the previous case so you can try some of the methods outlined earlier. Reload your browser, clear cache and try accessing the form via another device. 

Does Google Forms allow anonymous responses? 

Google Forms can be anonymous, but the form maker must enable that feature through the form's settings.

How to solve Google forms not recording responses

When creating your form, Google Forms prompts you to choose a location for saving form responses. 

If you can't find all responses, go to the settings page and adjust your preferences. 

How do I retrieve data from Google Forms?

Retrieving Google forms responses is pretty easy. Here's how to go about it: 

  1. Open Google Forms
  2. Click on the three dots at the far right of the page
  3. Choose "download responses in .CSV" 

Can you edit a response in Google forms?

Editing responses after submission in Google Forms is possible, depending on the form's settings. As the form administrator, you can allow this to happen by adding it to your preferences.

  1. Go to form settings
  2. Under "General,” check the "edit after submit" box.

That's it! Form respondents can now edit responses after submission. 

How many responses can you have in Google Forms?

You can collect unlimited survey and questionnaire responses in Google Forms. 

How to recover Google forms responses

Unless in rare cases, all Google Forms responses are fully accessible in the web-based application.

All you need to do is click on the three dots at the top of the form, and download responses in csv format. You should have access to all your responses now.  

Google forms not syncing with excel: How to solve

You can sync Google sheets and Google Forms to update data automatically. Here's how to pull this off: 

  1. Go to the form responses tab.
  2. Click on the three dots button located next to the Google Sheets icon. Click on Select responses destination from the drop.
  3. Click the "create a new spreadsheet" option. Or you can sync the form with an existing spreadsheet.

Can Google forms merge?

Google Forms doesn't support form merging but you can pull this off with add-on tools like Form Merger. 

Can I copy questions from one Google form to another?

Yes. In 2019, Google Forms released a new feature that allows you to reuse questions from past surveys and questionnaires. In other words, you can copy questions from an existing form to a new one. 

Google forms not sending email notifications: How to solve

If you're not receiving email notifications from Google Forms, there are a couple of things you can do: 

  1. Make sure you're not using multiple notifications add-ons.
  2. Troubleshoot Google Forms
  3. Try reloading the web application

Google forms not saving: How to solve

Google Forms has an autosave feature that automatically saves your progress as you complete surveys and questionnaires. Saved responses are stored in the cloud as a draft for a 30-day period. 

However, to enjoy this feature, you need to access the form via your Google account. 



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