Google Docs Forms versus Survey Monkey

I received this question by email this morning:

Just wondering…I’ve used Survey Monkey for a long time. It gives you lots of information…what are the advantages of the Google one that we do in Excel? I know about the instant graphing, but is there something else? Thanks!

And since I took the time to send a response, I thought I’d share it here, too:

This is a good question – that I’ve been meaning to answer in writing for a while. Here are a few thoughts off of the top of my head:

Advantages of Google Docs forms over Survey Monkey:

  • No limits (like a free surveymonkey account)
  • No costs (like a $200/year surveymonkey account)
  • No need to export data
  • it’s already in your spreadsheet, where you can graph or manipulate it in many ways.

Disadvantages of Google Docs forms compared to Survey Monkey

  • Duplicating a spreadsheet doesn’t duplicate the form! This is a big deal if, like me, you create many evaluations from a single template. It was a PAIN the one time I tried to do several versions of a form in Google Docs.
  • No pre-set visualization like the simple bar graphs in Survey Monkey – you have to set it all up yourself.
  • You can’t customize the template (colors and logo etc) the way you can in Survey Monkey.

Collaborators are also handled differently. It’s very easy to “publish” the results using either system, but Google Docs allows you to have true collaborators who can also manipulate your data. On the other hand, Survey Monkey makes it easier to determine how much of the results you share and what people can do with them.

At this point I’m glad I still have SurveyMonkey for evaluations, but we’ll see what I decide next time my renewal comes up, especially if Google gets the duplication issue squared away.

If you are using both and know of other differences I’ve overlooked, please let us know in the comments.

10 Responses to “Google Docs Forms versus Survey Monkey”

  1. Diana Kenney Says:

    Great post Mark! I’ve been wondering the very same thing. We used Google Forms for our district’s summer professional development sign-ups. It worked great. The only negative comment from someone was that it’s not a very “pretty” looking survey. I think the functionality and cost effectiveness over-rides it’s lack of “prettiness.”

    Thanks for the timely post!

  2. Ken Says:

    I think both have their ads and disads. For the most part I prefer google forms since it is free, more collaborative, and provides graph data instantly. Survey monkey, which I have used extensively, is good for more generalized information and free form responses. Wonder if google will come up with a similar interface or competitive one for that matter?

  3. BJ Says:

    I’m relatively new to forms and very familiar with surveymonkey. I think google is the better choice when the question pool is reasonably simple and short, but once things start to get more complex by incorporating logic or sharing detailed or extended responses, I like the monkey.

  4. Youssef Elias Says:

    I too like the Monkey, however Forms is the best tool for what I need. I’m in the process of creating a survey that 150+ teachers will take 5 separate times. I’m sharing the spreadsheet with the administrators of the program who can then make some real time adjusts to the instructional program. As far as customizing the template, you can always embed it into your own page. Thanks Mark.

  5. Kern Kelley Says:

    The two features I miss most from Monkey when I use Forms is having the ability to forward a user to a URL of my choice once they’ve submitted the form and the ability to track an IP so a computer can only be used to enter data once. This is especially helpful when voting for the best skateboard design in the school ;) ( )

  6. Eric Jarivs Says:

    I, personally, would recommend using Google Forms when people are signing up for something (e.g., a class or in-service). I use Survey Monkey for quite a bit for actual surveys.

    A feature I find particularly useful is the ability to e-mail surveys to multiple participnts. This allows me to see who has completed the survey, and I can then easily send reminders to those who haven’t completed the survey.

    Survey Monkey does charge for their “advanced” features. Although you can pay a $200 annual fee, they also allow you to pay $20 for a month of usage. Once your survey is completed, you don’t have to continue pay the $20. You still, however, have access to all the results.

    Long story short, I like Google Forms for actual online forms; and (obviously) I’m a big fan of Survey Monkey for surveys and questionnaires.

  7. Andy L. Says:

    For very simple things, I think you nailed it on the head with the direct benefits of data being in your spreadsheet. But as soon as you start doing a tiny bit more, dedicated online survey services are going to win out exponentially. May I also make another recommendation? Check out for your online survey needs, and the free account covers a ton of things over google forms and most other online survey sites.

  8. Joe Thibault Says:

    I use a Google form to collect our student evaluations after they complete online classes, the form is about 25 questions, 4 which are qualitative (the rest simply multiple choice). I’ve noticed that if I let the spreadsheet accumulate over 200 responses it gets very difficult to manage online, have you ever reached an upper limit?

  9. Mark Wagner Says:

    Thanks for the comments all. Your perspectives have added a lot of value to the post.

    And, Joe. No. I haven’t collected that much info just yet – at least not using a form. I have several Google Spreadsheets that are quite large, but most use multiple “sheet” tabs. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Thanks for the heads-up.

  10. Rodney Says:

    Thank you Andy L. for suggesting SurveyGizmo as I was not aware it’s free account doesn’t have a survey response limit. This is just what I need as I have a survey that I want to collect responses over a long period of time but I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for.