Friday, April 4, 2014

Make a Universal RSVP Using Google Forms

Collecting RSVPs and Polling Data is useful for planning events, managing club or group activities, etc. but it can be a hassle to set up a separate form for each event or poll...  Users also dread having to learn how to use a new system each time information needs to be gathered from them. One solution to this problem is to create a RSVP that can be used for any event or poll.

Let's look at some oft-overlooked features of Google Forms that will allow us to create a Universal RSVP:
  • Pages - Pages make it so that you can create separate pages of questions within one form
  • Go to page based on answer - this allows you to collect additional information, but only if a specific answer to a question was given.  
    • For example, if someone answers no to a specific question you can take them to a page that asks why they chose no.  The person who answers yes does not see the page asking them why they chose no.
Here is an example form - go ahead and fill it out a few times:

Universal RSVP (Form)

The responses to this form are automatically entered in the spreadsheet below - have a look:
Universal RSVP (Responses)

The responses spreadsheet is color coded to make it easier for event coordinators to deal with. The top and left hand columns are frozen to make navigation easy.  You can scroll left and right through the data. Some columns are merged to create headings for the different "Events".

The form itself is fairly complicated on the back end, but the user never sees that - for them it's a simple and brief click-through.
When there's a new event requiring an rsvp, administrators just need to add a new multiple choice answer to the Big Question, create a page with event-specific questions, and that's it!

As an event coordinator, you can send everyone to the same place to RSVP for anything - just say "Go to the website and RSVP". 

I shudder to think about what it used to be like when we relied on paper and post or telephone to do this same thing, but the reality is that even with modern survey tools available people still collect RSVPs using email, which is almost as tedious and confusing.

By creating a consistent user experience the hope is that your users will participate more and have more confidence in their ability to participate.  Also, you're collecting participation metrics, which are useful for future planning (if they're there when you need them).

If you'd like your own form, leave a comment below and I'll post instructions on how to make one.  The Google Forms and Spreadsheets web-based applications are free with a Google Account.  If you're logged into gmail or your google account, you can visit drive.google.com to create a new form and experiment!  Good luck!

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