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Microsoft Forms: how to create smart questionnaires in 6 steps

Forms is the Microsoft 365 universe app that will help you collect data, test knowledge and analyze feedback from your communities.

Have fun creating branching forms with multiple-choice questions and assessment scales, customizing every detail with your brand's style. Want to know how to do it?

Let's find out together!

What is Microsoft Forms and how it works

Microsoft Forms is the app in the Microsoft 365 suite that helps people write, publish, and distribute customized forms, from questionnaires to measure customer satisfaction to tests to test students.

In fact, this application can serve anyone who wants to communicate directly with their user audience, obtaining useful information about their engagement, their level of knowledge or their opinion about any topic.

With Forms, you can also organize events and initiatives.

For example, you can disseminate a survey with all the alternative ways of meeting, collect feedback from participants and address their needs without even sending an e-mail.

Or you can post a questionnaire asking for suggestions and to unravel complex situations, such as widespread dissatisfaction with an extracurricular course or failure to use the company's new intranet.

In short, where questions are waiting to be answered, Microsoft Forms is the key to collecting and reprocessing - even graphically - data from your communities.

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Before we get into the details of how Microsoft Forms works, let's look together at how to access the app.

Forms is available for Office 365 Education and Microsoft 365 Apps for Business customers, as well as for users with a Microsoft account (Hotmail, Live or Outlook.com).

However, we should point out that the maximum number of forms you can create and responses you can get changes depending on the type of customer you find yourself in.

Here's how it stands:

  • Office 365 Education and Microsoft 365 Apps for Business customers:
    • 200 active forms.
    • 50,000 responses per form.
  • Users with Microsoft accounts (Hotmail, Live or Outlook.com):
    • 200 active forms.
    • 1,000 responses per form (paid accounts).
    • 200 responses per form (free accounts).

Want to know a little trick?

Export the collected data to Excel and delete it from the corresponding form on Forms.

Doing so will free up space to collect more responses than your account allows.

As far as user access is concerned, the app is automatically activated for all people in the organization.

Nevertheless, IT administrators and administrators can change this default setting and enable access only for certain groups of users. To do so, they must follow these brief steps:

  • Log in to the Microsoft 365 administration interface.
  • Click on "Users" and then "Active”.
  • Check the box next to the user you want to exclude from using the app.
  • Click on "Manage Product Licenses”.
  • Expand the list of apps included in enterprise licenses and uncheck the box corresponding to Microsoft Forms.

Your organization will then be able to control access to the questionnaires and analysis of the data collected, keeping sensitive information safe.

This will prevent prying eyes from viewing the names of users who completed the survey, perhaps giving rather personal answers about their relationship with the company and its initiatives. But this is just one example.

In fact, the forms created with Forms are set up to report responses anonymously. Only at the moment when it is necessary to know the name of the interviewed users, a special text box can be inserted.

Also, continuing on the subject of access to forms, it is important to note that you can also involve people from outside the organization.

You must go to the Microsoft Forms settings and check the box that best defines the audience you want to reach. The options are as follows:

  • Everyone.
  • People in the organization only.
  • People specific to the organization.

Obviously, check the first one so you can collect feedback from people such as your customers, suppliers, or parents of your alumni.

In addition to the target user audience, you can use the settings area in the Forms app to set an expiration date after which the survey will be closed or enable the feature to show solutions.

The latter is particularly useful if you want to disseminate a cross-tab test, allowing participants to discover the correct option for each question immediately after giving their answer.

In addition, you can enable the completion bar, which will show users their progress within the questionnaire.

This is a second important feature to add to your assessment tests, to help participants manage their time. But it can also come in handy to motivate those people who often abandon surveys they don't see the end of.

Two other things you can do in your personal Forms settings are:

  • Create a thank-you message.

For us, it is always nice to read a short sentence expressing gratitude toward the time and effort we put into answering each of the questions.

  • Enable response notifications.

With Forms alerts, you will receive an email every time a user has turned in a completed form. This way, you can monitor the progress of your survey participation - and encourage it, if necessary –.

Having come this far, we are ready to guide you in creating a form with Microsoft Forms.

But first one last point.

If your audience is international, you can count on multilingual support in the app to allow users to view your questionnaire in the language of their preference by opening it in their desktop or mobile browser.

In fact, questionnaires, tests and surveys adapt to any device.

Yep, forms made with Forms are just smart.

The 6 steps to creating a smart questionnaire with Microsoft Forms

Let's cut to the chase and see right away what are the 6 steps to follow to create a questionnaire with Forms.

Step 1: Create the file

First, follow the link to Microsoft Forms to enter the app’s home page.

Here, you will immediately have a choice to make:

  • Create a form from scratch.
  • Explore the platform's templates and open one ready-made to accommodate your questions.

To continue with our example, select "New Form" or "New Quiz".

This will create a blank file, to which you will need to give a name and a brief introduction.

Write the title and description of a new form

Write the title and description of a new form


Now, let's move on to the questions.

Step 2: Structure the form into questions and sections

Forms allows you to construct a questionnaire easily and flexibly, using different types of questions and thematic macro-sections.

The latter are useful for grouping multiple questions that cover the same topic.

For example, you could group all questions related to how often you would like to hold regular meetings or set the day and time of an event.

Create a thematic section of questions

Create a thematic section of questions


Within each section, you can enter a theoretically infinite number of questions, choosing from:

  • Single-choice questions.
  • Multiple-choice questions.
  • Open-ended questions.
  • Questions answered by scoring on a 5-star scale, 0-10, etc.
  • Questions answered by entering a date.
  • Graded evaluation table.

Enter a graded evaluation table

Enter a graded evaluation table


As you can see, you can customize each question on your form by following the platform's suggestions or by inserting small accompanying images.

Step 3: Linear, random or branching path?

Having seen how and what types of questions you can insert, we want to talk about the user path.

In fact, Microsoft Forms allows you to propose the sequence of questions in exactly the order in which you created them... or not.

In case you want to keep the order in which the questions are created, you do not have to do anything. In fact, the path is linear by default.

However, you can choose to administer the questions to your audience in two alternative ways:

  • Random.

The random path causes each of your surveyed users to receive the questions in a different order than the others.

This is useful functionality for school assessment tests, but also in case you want to experiment with questionnaires of a more psychological nature.

To set the random mode, you need to go to the module settings and select "Shuffle Questions".

  • Ramified.

In this case, the user path will not be random, but will follow a linearity of relevance rather than time. What this means?

In a nutshell, you can tie an answer to a question that is not directly following the current question, but is more relevant.

Let's clarify with an example.

If a user selects the answer "Never" to the question "How often do you use our product?", it becomes unnecessary to follow up with the question "What do you like most about our product?" Instead, it pays to direct him to the question "How could we improve the product?".

Each user can then follow a personalized path, consisting of questions most relevant to their experience as a customer, supplier, parent, etc.

To branch out your form, you must click on "Add branching" in the three dots at the bottom right of one of the questions. After that, select the answer from which you want to start branching and choose the question to which you want to redirect the user.

Set up a random user path with Shuffle Questions

Set up a random user path with Shuffle Questions

 

 

Build a ramified user path with Add Branching

Build a ramified user path with Add Branching


All set.

Step 4: Brand the form

Microsoft always tries to give us the ability to customize files and content in the style that best represents us, both as people and as a business community.

Forms is no exception.

In fact, like all applications in the Microsoft suites, Forms allows you to create custom graphic themes or upload one already packaged for your brand.

To do so, you simply click on "Themes" in the upper right-hand corner, scroll to the end of the window that opens to the side, and select "Customized Theme".

Add a custom theme

Add a custom theme


If you don't have a ready-made graphics kit, Forms will come to your aid by offering a carousel full of color palettes and templates-some even featuring animations - to characterize your survey and make it appealing in the eyes of your audience -.

Step 5: Use the preview to evaluate your work

To avoid publishing or sharing a form with errors and flaws, Forms makes previewing available.

By clicking on "Preview" in the upper right corner, you will be shown the result of your work exactly as it will look in the eyes of the target audience. But that's not all.

In fact, you can switch between desktop and mobile modes to view your form in both versions and thus understand whether the setting you gave it holds up on any device.

In general, you should pay special attention to images and how their layout changes from pc to phone or tablet.

Finally, the preview feature is useful for testing the branching of questions.

Indeed, if you have opted to build a path responsive to user choices, you can interact with your questions and see if indeed the redirection you have programmed works.

Step 6: Sharing or publishing, no big deal

Now, you can decide whether to publish your form and start collecting feedback from your audience, or to share it as a template with other users.

One option does not exclude the other, fortunately.

In case you simply want to publish your questionnaire, click on "Collect Responses" in the upper right corner and select how you want to disseminate it.

Among the available options, you will find the following:

  • E-mail.
  • QR code.
  • Code to insert into a web page or Sway.
  • Social media.

You can also copy the link and send it in your preferred platform chat.

Publish the form

Publish the form


Once published, the form will start collecting user responses and make them available to you in the "Responses" section at the top left.

Here, you will be able to view useful data and information such as the number of times the questionnaire was filled out, the average time it took users to get to the end, and the status (active or expired).

You will also be shown a pie chart summarizing the responses obtained for each question, so you can assess at a glance the number of correct answers given or the item that was most successful in terms of preference.

By clicking on "More Details," you can investigate individual questions and view the names of individual users (if required) along with the option each of them chose.

With Forms, you can choose to export the collected data to Excel.

Just click on "Open in Excel" and you will be sent directly to a pivot table already set up with all the answers from your form.

This way, you will be able to better interact with the data and use the features of Microsoft Excel to process it into different types of charts or complete the set with additional information, from external sources.

Finally, Forms provides the "Ideas" feature.

This is a recent innovation for the app, added to help users gain new and unexpected insights from their questionnaires and surveys.

"Ideas", in fact, automatically creates a series of graphs to show different reprocessing of the data and thus provide new keys to interpretation.

For example, the user could obtain a graph regarding the level of satisfaction indicated by the people surveyed, who are divided according to their business department or class.

In this way, it would be possible to see how one department or class of alumni shows a lower level of satisfaction than the other participants.

Reasoning on the matter, one might come to the conclusion that the corporate event or school course being surveyed fails to engage that particular segment of the audience. Perhaps because the topics covered are not relevant to their needs.

Forms thus highlights a specific problem and helps figure out how to solve it with informed strategy adjustments based on feedback from those directly affected.

Analyze collected data and gain unexpected insights

Analyze collected data and gain unexpected insights


Returning now to the form-sharing feature, Microsoft Forms allows you to duplicate your questionnaire and send it to other users in the organization, who can access the file and use it as a basis for creating new surveys.

The goal could be to make a template available to your team that is already configured with the corporate style, so you can maintain graphic consistency...and not have to create a custom form from scratch each time.

Not too shabby of a tool, right?

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What Microsoft apps does Forms integrate with

So far, we have seen what Microsoft Forms is, what its features are, and what it is intended to achieve.

However, there is one important piece missing from the puzzle we have pieced together, and that is the integration possibilities of this application.

If you have been reading our articles for a while, you will know that one of Microsoft's top priorities is to make navigation between its products as smooth as possible.

But this fluidity concerns also and especially the functionality of each application, which is designed precisely to complement the function of all the tools in the Microsoft universe.

Forms, therefore, also has its own integration capabilities, involving tools such as SharePoint Online, Teams and Power Automate.

Let's discover them together.

Microsoft Forms e Outlook

Let's start by saying that you can insert a poll within an email on Outlook by clicking on the three dots next to the "Send" button and selecting "Polls”.

This will open a side window in which you can enter a single- or multiple-choice question.

In fact, it is not possible to create a structured and complex questionnaire, but surely this integration will come in handy to accompany the text of one of your emails and gather feedback from your audience quickly and directly.

once you have sent the email with the survey, your target users will be able to respond without having to go through the Forms interface.

They will be able to interact directly with the body of your e-mail, and you will be able to monitor the progress of the survey in real time from Outlook, without any deviation.

Microsoft Forms e SharePoint Online

To build a site page using SharePoint Online, you have several types of sections at your disposal. Among them, you find the web part specifically for Microsoft Forms.

With the Forms web part, you can create and add a survey directly to a page on one of your communication sites, such as the intranet, or team site.

You can also decide to insert and share the results of an already completed questionnaire, either in numerical or graphical form.

In this way, users who participated will be able to view the overall performance and understand what the common thinking is on certain topics or how their responses fit into the overall picture.

Microsoft Forms e Microsoft Teams

Obviously, a tool like Forms cannot be missing from the ultimate collaboration app.

To add it among the tabs, click on the three dots below the text bar in one of your chats. Several applications will appear, including "Polls”.

By selecting either of these, you can create a poll to post in your conversations with colleagues.

However, as with Outlook seen above, you will only be able to post one single- or multiple-choice question at a time.

This sounds limiting, but it is often all you need to gather quick feedback via chat about the organization of an event, time preferences for a regular meeting, and more.

To disseminate a questionnaire consisting of multiple questions and sections, you must first create it on the Forms app and then share it via a link on Teams - the same goes for Outlook emails -.

Microsoft Forms e Power Automate

You can use Microsoft Power Platform's Power Automate to integrate automation flows into your surveys.

This could come in handy to have the Forms form react automatically to certain things that happen within it.

Let's take an example.

If a user answers in the affirmative to the question "Will you be attending the next company webinar?" they will immediately receive an e-mail with a link to the event.

To set up such an automation flow, follow these steps:

  • Access the Power Automate interface.
  • Click on "Create" and then on "Automated flow".
  • Give your flow a name, otherwise it will be assigned to it automatically.
  • In the section below, called "Choose your flow's trigger", choose the Forms-related option that interests you. For example, "When a new response is submitted".
  • Click on "Create".
  • In the "Form ID" section, enter the name of the form to which you want to link the automation flow.
  • Select "New step".
  • In the "Choose an action" section, choose the event that will start the automation flow. An example might be "Get response details".
  • Again, indicate the referenced form under "Form ID" and then select "Response ID".
  • Click on "New step".
  • In the "Search connectors and actions" section of "Choose an action", select the item called "Condition". You will find it in the "Actions" tab, next to the "Triggers" tab.
  • In "Choose a value", indicate the question for which you want to send an automated email. In our case, let's take the question "Will you be attending the next company webinar?".
  • In the list that will appear next to the question, choose the "is equal to" option and then indicate "Yes".
  • In the "If yes" section, select "Add an action".
  • Under "Search connectors and actions", click on "Choose an action" and indicate "Send an email".
  • In the "To" section, choose "Responders' Email".
  • Write the body of your automated email.

With a little patience, you're done.

Microsoft Forms e PowerPoint

Here is another integration option, one that allows you to insert a survey within a PPT presentation.

To do this, click on "Insert" among the tabs that PowerPoint provides for each slide and select "Forms".

From here, you can decide whether to create a questionnaire from scratch by clicking on "New Form" or "New Quiz", or to add an existing form.

In case you want to insert one of your own ready-to-publish surveys, you simply need to select the relevant file from the window that will open on the side, called "My Forms".

PowerPoint will allow you to edit the survey directly from its interface so that you don't have to constantly go back and forth between apps - you're beginning to understand the importance of integration, aren't you? -.

Once the changes are complete, you can share your presentation via Outlook, OneNote, Teams and more.

The important thing to note is that recipient users will have the ability to interact with your survey directly from the slide it is on.

For your part, you can monitor the progress of responses from the same "My Forms" section in PowerPoint.

Microsoft Forms e Microsoft Stream

Let's wrap up the discussion on Forms with this integration: you can embed a questionnaire within multimedia content created with Stream.

Increase audience engagement with instant questions and small interactive quizzes.

Use this feature to collect feedback on content or to test the level of understanding on the topics covered.

It only takes a few simple steps to do this.

We list them below:

  • Access the Stream interface.
  • In the "My Content" menu, click on "Videos" and choose the video in which you want to insert a form.
  • In the "Form URL" section, paste the link to your questionnaire on Forms.
  • Indicate the title of your questionnaire or survey in "Name your form".
  • Place the form by moving the placement head of the video command bar.
  • Click on "Add to timeline".

Once again, you are done.

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Giuseppe Marchi

Microsoft MVP for SharePoint and Office 365 (now called Microsoft 365) since 2010, Giuseppe founded Dev4Side and intranet.ai with the aim of helping companies to have a simpler and more effective working environment thanks to Microsoft technologies. He works as a consultant for everything related to collaboration, intranet portals and Microsoft cloud platforms.

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