How to Create Online Surveys with Gravity Forms and WordPress Part 1

Online Surveys with Gravity Forms and WordPressSurveys are a great way to determine the wants and needs of your customers. They’re also a great way to get feedback on your products and services, which can help you improve your product and drive more sales.

You might be asking, why do I need to survey my customers when I can get great information from my analytics program like Google Analytics or Clicky?

The answer is simple: no matter how sophisticated your analytics program might be, the data is often passive, and gives you insight mostly into your customers behaviors after they’ve already arrived at and interacted with your site. You don’t learn much about what brought them to your site, or what they thought of your site, your products, or your services.

To determine what the customer really desires, or what he or she felt about your product or service, you need to poll her directly, and that is best done with a survey.

Online Survey Providers

There are dozens of third-party survey applications on the market, some of them more expensive than others. Among them are:

  • SurveyMonkey
  • Zoomerang
  • Google Forms

But rather than creating another login and relying on an outside website to host our surveys, we’re going to create them right in WordPress using a popular form plugin, Gravity Forms.

This post, the first of two, will discuss creating your online survey, choosing form fields, and editing the settings to allow for conditional responses.

The second article will discuss embedding the survey on your website through the post editor and through short codes, viewing the survey entries, and exporting the data for editing in third-party spreadsheet programs.

When we’re done, you will have created an online survey hosted right within your own WordPress website, and it will look like this:

The finished survey

Click to view full image

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of creating our survey, it’s a good idea to discuss some of the features any good survey service should offer.

Survey Services

There are many survey services available, some for free, some better than others, and some which integrate with WordPress. A great survey service has 5 features:

  1. Function and Aesthetic
  2. Custom fields
  3. Conditionals
  4. Exporting
  5. Embedding

Function and Aesthetic

An architect will tell you a great building has both form and function. It is pleasing to the eye while it serves a structural purpose.

Boring, drawn-out, long text box forms do not encourage your viewers to continue past the first few questions. Extremely long surveys are almost assuredly abandoned a few minutes in.

Like a classic piece of architecture, a survey needs to be easy to navigate and to fill in questions, but it must also fit well on the page and be attractively styled.

Custom Fields

Standard survey services allow for placement of standard form fields, like name, address, email, etc. For the most part, these are simple text fields. More sophisticated form applications give you the ability to add paragraph text fields, radio buttons, check boxes, and drop down lists.

Custom fields give your applicant a better user experience and make filling in the survey a more interactive experience. Custom fields also cut down on variances in answers.

For example, one could create a survey question asking for the applicant’s most recent salary level. That could be handled with a simple text field and the applicant would enter the exact number or something general. When you view the entries you could have numbers that vary wildly, and if you wanted to categorize them into ranges that would need to be done in a separate spreadsheet.

Instead, you might try a custom drop down list whereby you create the ranges inside the survey and allow the user to select the option that fits his situation. That way, your survey entry will be standardized and no spreadsheet work will be needed to edit the data.

Conditionals

A conditional is a field which displays only when a certain condition is met. For example, you might create a survey in which you ask the applicant if he is currently employed, with a check box for “yes” and one for “no.” If the answer is yes, the salary survey field appears right below it. If not, the user never sees the salary field, and is directed to the next survey question.

Conditionals make the survey process quicker and more intuitive for the end-user because he is not burdened with seeing extra fields that he may not need to fill out.

Exporting

The ability to export your data is essential. Not every application allows you to slice and dice data or to analyze in its own control panel. This is especially true with surveys that garner massive amounts of entries. This kind of data needs to be edited, analyzed, and manipulated on a spreadsheet program like Apple’s Numbers or Microsoft Excel.

A good survey application will give you the ability to export your entries for editing outside of the program.

Embedding

Most online survey applications want to keep you on their own websites, making the survey you create available only via a link. Some survey applications will allow you to embed the survey in your own website, but unless you know html, this might not be very intuitive.

WordPress survey plugins take the guess-work out of embedding, allowing you to create survey questions directly in the admin panel and them embed survey forms directly into your post or page editors.

And that brings us to Gravity Forms.

Survey Integration in WordPress

Gravity Forms is a popular plugin for WordPress known mostly for the creation of complex forms, but it can also be used to create and manage beautiful online surveys.

Download and Install Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is a paid premium plugin, but well worth the money you spend on it. For $39 you can create unlimited surveys with unlimited questions and get 1 year of support and updates.

The plugin allows you to keep the surveys, and more importantly – the responses, directly on your server and securely in your database, where they can be accessed, exported, and manipulated any time you like.

Gravity forms is installed like any other WordPress plugin and is accessible through its own panel right in your own blog’s admin interface.

Creating a survey in Gravity is easy as inserting form field elements and designing the headings as questions. But before we do that, let’s take a moment and plan out the structure of our survey.

Planning Your Survey

It helps to plan the layout and order of your survey questions. A common customer feedback survey which can be used in business and in nonprofit organizations will include the following questions:

  1. Name
  2. Email address
  3. Was it easy for you to receive the service?
    • Yes / No
      • If no, what were the problems?
        • Too far away
        • Too expensive
  4. Was the service helpful to you?
    • Yes / No
      • If yes, how did the service help you specifically?
  5. Favorite feature of the service
    • Location
    • Pricing
    • Convenience
  6. Possible improvements to the service
  7. Overall Service Rating
    • Rating Scale 1 to 10
  8. Would you recommend our service to others?
    • Yes / No
  9. Would you like to be contacted about your response to this survey?
    • Yes / No
      • If yes, which method of contact to your prefer?
        • Email
        • Phone
          • If phone, Phone entry field

Creating the Survey in Gravity Forms

The following video tutorials walk you through setting up an online survey in Gravity Forms according to the questions we’ve planned and outlined above.

PART 1

In Part 1 of the video tutorial we will be adding survey question fields into our form. We cover the types of questions and form fields needed and the order in which they should be added to recreate our structure listed above.

Part 2

In Part 2 of the video tutorial we edit the survey fields, change headings and field names, and add our conditional field functionality.

 

In the second article, we’ll discuss editing the remaining fields, complex conditional functionality, and previewing the finished form to check for errors. Once the survey is complete, we’ll learn how to embed the survey in a WordPress page via the post editor and short codes.

We’ll setup notifications such that the admin will receive and email whenever the survey is filled out, and finally, we’ll learn how to view and manage the survey entries and export them to third-party spreadsheet programs for data analysis and management.

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