Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thoughts on Using Google Forms in Blogs

Yesterday I created a blog post with an embedded form from Google Docs. Here are some of my first reactions to using Google Forms in Blogs.
  • Embedding the form into Blogger was easy.  I simply copied the code from Google Docs and pasted it under the Edit HTML tab in Blogger.

  • Depending on the number of columns you have in your blog design you will have to reduce the width of your Google Form considerably.  That's fine but it means your readers will have to scroll so keep that in mind. I reduced my width to 500 to fit the text area of my blog.
The blog post as viewed on Blogger
  • The blog was a bit slower to load with the form in the blog post.

  • The blog post with Google Forms displayed well in Google Reader and even let me respond to the questions in Reader.  I liked that.  Because of the set width restraint there was a lot of empty white space to the right of the blog post because Reader has a wider format. Unfortunately, the embedded form did not display at all in the emailed version of the blog post.
The blog post as viewed in Google Reader

  • After completing the questions Blogger did not automatically take the readers to the top of the page for the thank you/confirmation message and link to the responses.  If they didn't scroll up, which I'm sure many didn't, they won't realize the content is available to them.

  • The confirmation note which readers should have seen immediately
  • I opened up the answers to all readers so that I could see how it displayed.  The restriction on the width made this difficult to read. There is no left/right scroll bar to see the text that is out of view. I can see that it would have displayed really nicely if it had more room to spread out.  The colored graphs are a nice touch. For paragraphs answers it displays the first few and then ... but you can't click on the ... to see more.  The text answers are in a funky shade of gray highlight to separate them. Perhaps they could have left the highlighting off and just used commas.

The results display - notice the cut off text to the right.

  • The form blog did not feed out to networked blogs automatically. I can't say for sure if that was a fluke or if it is was because of the form.  But that is definitely something to keep an eye on.

  • One user commented to me (thanks Sharon!) that if you hit enter in response to the question it will submit the form.  That can force readers into having to take the questionnaire twice. It would be nice if Google could get rid of that and just rely on the Submit button on the bottom.

Google Forms are a function of Google Docs which is available when you sign up for a free Google Account.

I learned about using Google Forms by watching Thomas MacEntee's webinar  on the topic.  The webinar will be available for viewing for the next 10 days on the Legacy Family Tree website.

1 comment:

  1. I have been using Google Forms ,the Tom MacEntree way ,to track my searches as a research log for a few months . It's been my best system for all online searches and creating the individualized form is nifty .

    Tom is a genius is getting some great ideas out there for online genealogy . My hats off to everyone utilzing these free Google docs products .