If you are even only an infrequent user of online surveys then you won’t help but get the veiled reference in this post title. That’s it, I’m not saying any more, it’s not in me to put anyone down.
What I am going to tell you about though, is a little known feature of an old favourite which brings you the power of online surveys for free. Nada. Gratis. What’s more, there are no limitations to respondent numbers, and no suckie advertising once your subject has completed your questions. Want to know more? I thought you might.
I hope you’re sitting down because you’re in for a bit of a surprise…
You can produce unlimited FREE online surveys with Excel. Yep, Microsoft Excel has an online survey function that very few people know about. How? Where? I hear you ask. Then let me tell you all about it…
To make use of this (almost) hidden function you are going to need an online account with Microsoft – which for most people means an Office 365 subscription or a OneDrive cloud storage account. You can only create the survey in the online version of Excel. So don’t go looking at the menus of your desktop version, not even if you are signed in to it with your Microsoft account – you have to go to https://onedrive.live.com and log in there.
Don’t worry though, once your survey is ready it can be posted anywhere – and the people you are targeting need not even know what Excel is, let alone use it or have a subscription. So, back to Excel Online; when you have logged in and chosen to use Excel click on the ‘New’ option in the menu bar and this is what you’ll see:
You’ve got it, you’re going to pick the Excel Survey option. From here on in the process is pretty straight forward, so I’m not going to go into vast amounts of detail. You need to add a title to your survey, and have the option of a sub-title too – and then you start creating your questions. The question options are admittedly a little limiting, but to be honest I don’t find that a problem. In the majority of cases you’re going to want to ask people to select something from a list, to answer yes or no, or to type a text answer – these variations are covered, plus a couple of other options too:
Once you have all your questions written you can re-order them with a simple drag-and-drop, and you can click to see a preview of how the survey looks. There are no options to format your survey, but I kind of like this – what you get is a good, clean, professional survey without any visual bias that could otherwise influence responses.
And you’re good to go. Grab your survey link, distribute, and wait for the responses to roll in.
Have I not told you the best bit?!
Shucks, I should have mentioned this earlier – and this is perhaps my favourite part of the whole thing: all responses are automatically added to a spreadsheet that has been created for you.
No manual data entry.
No importing or exporting.
No pesky .csv files.
The only other question you’re probably wanting to ask at this point is: Why did I not know about this before? Good point – well, I only stumbled upon this function by accident, it has probably been covered in various spreadsheet-nerd blogs, but since I don’t read any of those it wasn’t even on my radar. So I’m guessing it probably wasn’t on yours either.
Never mind, now we know!
And finally – let’s see it in action. Click the button below to view my own mini survey created in Excel, and if you’re feeling particularly kind maybe you’ll answer the 3 questions?