Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks
Google Forms lets you control the questions presented to users based on data already collected. It helps you ask follow-up questions that depend on earlier responses. But it’s not clear how — or why you should bother. Let me show you how it works.
We ask follow-up questions all the time. Here’s a few examples:
- You’re planning a lunch event, and need to find out if an attendee has dietary restrictions. The people who answer, “No” don’t need to be distracted by a question asking what type of meal is acceptable (vegan, gluten-free, etc.).
- We ask people using an eCommerce store where they found out about the website. If the user clicks a form choice that he learned about it from a flyer in a local coffee shop, we ask him to identify one of the three coffee shops in which we posted flyers. If the user instead had a personal referral, we might ask her for the friend’s contact info so we can send that friend a “thank you.”
- We prompt for a location specification. A chain of car dealerships is in certain cities in a few states. To help users find the nearby options, we ask them which state they’re in, then follow up to ask about the cities in that state.
The technical term for this kind of survey logic and data management is logic branching. Google Forms calls its implementation threading and flow, and it’s mighty powerful. This short example shows how to put it to use, using that third example: the common state and city logic branching.
In our scenario, we operate several car dealerships in only a few states. We have users looking for a car from one of our dealerships in select cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. Our dealerships are managed by a District Manager covering each state, so our Oregon District Manager does not want to see people interested in cars in Washington or California.
We want users to fill out the Google Form just for the state they are interested in buying a car with their names, emails, and phone numbers. This is accomplished by separating the Google Form into sections. We make a section visible when the user response matches a condition (or set of conditions, though we aren’t delving into that here); otherwise we never show that option.
First, set up the form with the first question, asking the user to select the state in which he wants to buy the car (presumably where our dealerships are located). Other questions can be in this initial section, but this is the fork in the road.
On the “State” question, click the
Add section icon on the right to add a new section. This is going to be the section to which we direct the user, based on his answer.
In this case, we begin with Washington. In Section 2, add the cities in which the dealerships are located. You don’t need to re-iterate to the user that these are Washington state dealerships; the respondent only sees this page if he said he wanted a car in Washington.
Then finish the section by prompting the user for his name, email, and phone number, using the usual Google Form fields. The result looks something like this.
Repeat this process, adding a new section for each state, prompting the user with the cities that include dealerships.
At this point, you just have the sections sitting there. Next, you need to tell Google Forms when and how to route the user to each section, based on the data entered.
Go back to your first section, where you initially prompted for the state. Click on
Go to section based on answer in the lower right extended options icon.
For the Washington answer, send the user to the Washington section; Oregon to Oregon; and California to California.
Now, when the Google Form user selects a state, he is directed to the section for his state with the proper cities. Each car dealership can keep track of people interested in purchases in its city, without distraction from unqualified buyers. And best of all, you only have to manage one form.
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