Tag Archives: Google Docs

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Choosing the Best Baby Name is Hard on your Server

We reproduce, you decide! We’ve hit well over 2000 votes on our baby name survey, and so far my blog has held up well (thank you, WP Super Cache). The traffic has been enough at times to slow the Google Docs form and graphs. To get slightly back on track for this blog, here’s a quick usability lesson – as a form becomes less responsive to users, double- and triple-submissions will increase.

Votes have been coming from all sorts of interesting places:

  • Many, many Googlers contributed votes. Obviously I can’t link to any internal company discussion, but I can assure you it was equal parts amusing, helpful, and nerdly. I had a fun time explaining all the programming jokes to Ann, particularly why we won’t be naming the baby after little Bobby Tables. Wysz supplied the very first votes, for Erin and Isaac.
  • For some international perspective, The Telegraph wrote about the survey in their “How About That?” column. If anyone has a copy of today’s print edition, I’d love to see if the story made it’s way on to dead trees, given my former journalistic predilections. I really got a kick of the headline, “Google man asks Internet to name his baby” – now that I’ve been publicly outed as Google Man, I’ll need to start wearing my cape to work.

If I’ve missed any, please add them in the comments below. And if you’re having trouble voting or seeing the charts and graphs, try again a little later – I think I my use of Docs and Spreadsheets is somewhere between “statistical outlier” and “abusive” at this point.

Create a survey or poll for your blog with Google Docs and Spreadsheets

You may have noticed the snazzy poll I posted on my blog the other day.  There’s a number of different survey and poll plugins for WordPress but all the ones I’ve looked at have caveats and limitations.  You can also use a service like SurveyMonkey but it has some data limitations for free accounts.  Instead, I used Google Docs and Spreadsheets to create a survey quickly and easily.  Here’s how to do it.

1. Getting to Google Docs and starting your form

We’re going to assume you have a Gmail account or have signed up for some other Google service already.  Go to http://docs.google.com.  Click on New -> Form

2.  Creating your form

This is actually pretty easy, and the online help does a pretty good job explaining what to do.  You have a number of options when creating a question – you can make it multiple choice, full text, or even a numerical scale, and you can mark some questions as required.  If you’re looking for the “Add question” button, it’s up at the top of the page rather than below the last question.

3.  Publishing the survey on your site

After you’ve created your form, use the More Actions button to find the Embed option.  Just copy this iframe into your blog post – it’s that simple. You’ll get code that looks something like this:

<iframe src=”http://spreadsheets.google.com/embeddedform?key=ppevxmL24UqnRb77Xy3AOWg” width=”310″ height=”1044″ frameborder=”0″ marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″>Loading…</iframe>

You can change the height and weight to better fit your blog template.  Keep in mind that some blogging software will not let you post HTML code and others, like WordPress, require you to use the HTML view.

If you can edit your template or sidebar you can even include the poll on every page, instead of just putting it in a post.

4.  Getting data

Here’s where it gets really cool – the data is automatically collected into a spreadsheet that you can share, edit online, or export to Microsoft Excel.  It’s pretty easy to export CSV for a statistical package like SPSS too.

There’s an optional fifth step, creating a chart or graph to let your users see the results, that I’ll cover later.  If you can’t wait just jump back to my post about urban usability and read about how I created the time-series chart there.

Please take a quick survey – Related posts and social bookmarks

A little while ago I added the Sphere Related Content plugin to my blog, and I’ve been using the ShareThis plugin for social bookmarking links for a while now.  The former should theoretically benefit users who want to read more about a topic I’ve written about, while the latter should make it easy to share my articles with others.

WordPress makes it easy to add plugins but I wonder if these are actually useful my readers.  Please take a moment to fill out this survey and let me know.

I used a Google Docs and Spreadsheets form to make the poll.  Later I’ll post about how you can do the same on your blog as well.