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Aug 17, 2016

How to Visualize your Google Form Responses

Whether you’re collecting feedback for a product survey, or creating a sign-up sheet for your next Pokemon Go get-together, Google Forms makes it easy to create polls and questionnaires without the hassle of coding or creating a customized website. However, what does becomes complicated is interpreting all of the response data, especially when you have hundreds of survey participants.

Google Forms has a handy built-in feature that links your form responses to an existing, or new Google Sheet. However, the internal reporting tools in Google Sheets leave much to be desired. Instead of sorting through dozens of responses, consider data visualization.

Visualizing your data with meaningful metrics helps you efficiently interpret your responses and make decisions on the fly. In this blog post, we’ll discuss best practices for creating forms and the benefits of visualizing their responses.

(Although we’ll be referencing Google Forms multiple times throughout this post, feel free to apply these best practices to your preferred survey creation solution.)

Step 1: Creating Your Form

When creating forms or surveys, it’s important to keep them short and sweet. Sending out long and time consuming surveys will lead to delayed, and in some cases, incomplete responses. Before you create your form, define the information you want to receive. Ask yourself what questions you want answered, and what’s the simplest way you can ask them.

When it comes to formatting individual questions, consider having easy, plottable answers. Although paragraph-answer questions do provide meaningful and individualized feedback, they’re hard to plot and therefore, hard to analyze. Multiple choice, scale, and checkbox-style questions are not only convenient for those who participate in your survey, but also for analyzing response data.

Questions like ‘On a scale of 0 - 5, how satisfied are you with this product?’, are easy to answer and easy to visualize. Plugging responses to this type of question into a visualization, allows you to quickly interpret overall customer satisfaction without tallying responses, or scrolling through rows on a spreadsheet.

In cases where a survey question requires a short answer, such as requesting someone’s zip code or email, use data validation to ensure participants are providing accurate responses. While fake names or email addresses are amusing, they’ll pollute your dataset.

Once your questions are complete, it’s time to organize your survey. Google Forms allows you to customize the look and feel of your form to best suit your needs. You can add section headers to segment different groups of questions, or add a progress bar if your form is longer than one page. Conditional branching within Google even allows you to ask users a specific question, based on how they answered the previous question; the customization options are endless.

Finally, make sure to collect information about the respondent such as location and age. This is helpful to segment responses and find patterns within your data. It’s best to ask these types of questions at the end of the survey as they’re easier to answer. If you already have user information in an existing database, you can join it with your form response data.

Once your questionnaire is complete and ready for distribution, review your survey one last time to eliminate any superfluous questions.

Step 2: Preparing Your Data for Visualization

As mentioned earlier, Google Forms has a handy built-in feature that links your form responses to an existing, or new Google Sheet. If you’re using another form creation solution, you can still save your responses to Google Sheets using Zapier.

Once your data is exported, it’s important to convert your data into standard database format. This includes grouping data in columns and removing aggregated data. Once your data is formatted, you can save it as a spreadsheet, or .csv and upload it to your preferred visualization tool. If you’re using Slemma, you can connect directly to Google Drive or Dropbox where the spreadsheet is stored.

Step 3: Visualizing Your Form Response Data

When it comes to how to visualize your form responses the possibilities are endless. While creativity is important in generating meaningful visualizations, it’s important to know when to use specific types of charts and graphs.

To visualize one-time form responses, bar charts and pie charts are going to be your bread and butter. Bar charts are best for comparing responses between multiple groups. For example, customer satisfaction based on age or location.

Bar Chart - Customer Satisfaction by Location

Pie charts on the other hand, are effective in comparing multiple parts of a whole. For example, what percent of those who completed the survey were paid users versus free trial subscriptions?

Pie Chart - Participants by Location

Tables work best if you need to emphasize and compare individual numbers. Single value charts showcase an aggregated measure and present it as a number, such as total number of responses submitted.

Other options for visualizing response form data include scatter plots and map charts. Scatter plots show how much one variable is affected by another, or the correlation between two variables. Map charts provide information regarding geographical trends in data.

The one chart you’ll want to avoid is a line chart. Line charts show how values change over time. Since most surveys and questionnaires require a one-time response, a line chart would not be the best choice in visualizing the data.

If you’re still unsure about what charts will best represent your data, check out Slemma. Slemma’s data visualization tool allows you to manipulate your response visualizations in real-time, no coding necessary. Drag and drop measures and dimensions to create the perfect form response visualizations. Slemma connects directly to your Google Drive, so you can import your data and begin building your data in no time.

Try Slemma, for free, for 14 days.

About Slemma

Slemma is an affordable, cloud-based, data visualization tool that integrates directly with your preferred software solutions to create informational dashboards without the need of coding or writing queries. Slemma helps you transform your standard, Google Form datasets in meaningful metrics.

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