Podcast Episode

453 – Embed a Google Form in a WordPress Site

Announcements

Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Innozilla Skins for Contact Form 7 makes creating Contact Form 7 forms a breeze.

Embed a Google Form in a WordPress Site

Benefits:

  • One form, multiple websites
  • All the results are in the same Google Sheet

To embed:

  • First go to https://docs.google.com/forms/ to create your form
  • Once satisfied with the form, then use the Send button in the upper right corner
  • This gives you three options and the last option, is an embed code that you can drop into your website.
  • If you want to make the form look a bit nicer, then use the Forminator Pro plugin

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about using Google Forms as our form builder for our WordPress website and why we’d wanna do that right here on Your Website Engineer podcast, Episode No. 452.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and I’m excited to be here with you this week as I am back into the swing of things and back into the WordPress world and all of the things that have happened since I last worked at Automattic, but three months off for the 12-week sabbatical was awful nice, a benefit of the company, and I am glad to be back and getting caught up with all the things that I missed, the acquisition of Prospress and all of the things that happened over the last 12 weeks. And today, we’re going to dive right in, and we’re gonna talk about Google Forms. And even though we talk about forms a lot and different form builders and whatnot, I just wanna talk about some of the benefits of using Google Forms for our websites. So, we’ll talk about that in just a couple minutes.

I have a regular show for you today with the announcements and a plugin of the week that I wanna share with you, and then we’ll get into the topic. So, the first thing that I wanted to talk about, and I mentioned it last week, was all about the volunteer call for WordCamp US is now open, and we are accepting volunteer applications. I am on the lead volunteer crew. We’re the people that are vetting the volunteers and helping people just enjoy the time that they are at WordCamp US. And so, the volunteer team has all kinds of different things in various different roles to be involved with, whether that be taking photos, or helping with the registration, or helping with all kinds of things, there’s lots and lots of volunteer community that needs to take place to help to run an event with 2,000-3,000 people like WordCamp US will have.

Now, WordCamp US is the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of November, and so if you are interested in that, it’s going to be in St. Louis, so it’s right there in the middle of the country. Hopefully, it’s easy for everyone to get to, and I’m excited to be there. And like I said, I am on the volunteer team, so we are looking for volunteers. And so, for more information, I think if you just go to US.WordCamp.org, it will forward you to the 2019 version, and then you can look for the call for volunteers. It’s on the blog. And there’s a link in the show notes for Episode 452, so you can get directly to that. So, that is the first announcement.

The second announcement is Ninja Forms’ parent company Saturday Drive acquires Caldera Forms. So, I had no idea. This was a couple things that I learned in this article, but Saturday Drive, I didn’t know that was the parent company of Ninja Forms, but it is, and it acquired the forms builder called Caldera Forms, which is a React-based, drag-and-drop form builder plugin. In addition to the free plugin on the WordPress.org repository, which has more than 200,000 active installs, Caldera’s product line includes the Pro version with more than 30 free and commercial add-ons for things like payment processors and marketing integrations.

And so, the Caldera Forms will still operate under the Saturday Drive umbrella and continue to be developed with more resources, so it’s unsure. I’m not sure exactly – there’s an article here from WP Tavern talking about it, but it talks a little bit about the plan to have two different WordPress plugins under the same umbrella. And so, it’s an interesting read if you’re interested. It’s not like they were fierce competitors. They’d been friendly competitors for years. Caldera Forms has always been a developer tool with a goal of focus on being intuitive enough for everyone, and so I think they’re gonna try to bring some of that technology to Ninja Forms. I don’t know. We’ll have to keep our eyes open to see what happens with those form builders as we progress through the years.

The other article that I found this week on WP Tavern that I wanna talk about is about a Gatsby Theme Jam Contest, and it inspired a couple WordPress starter themes. So, Gatsby is an open-source website framework based on React, and that’s the JavaScript language that just makes the modern web. When you click on something and the page doesn’t refresh, that’s pretty much, in a nutshell, what job description, what this Gatsby thing is all about. Now, there was a contest I was talking about. It’s called Theme Jam Contest, and participants were invited to create their own Gatsby theme and submit them for an opportunity to win swag or a grand prize, an all-expense-paid trip to the Gatsby Days and an event of their choosing. So, the submissions closed, but the article on WP Tavern talks about two different themes that were built with WordPress in mind.

And looking at the contest showcase, it highlighted two, and one is called the Gatsby Theme WordPress Starter theme, and the other one is called – I guess it’s just a WordPress source theme for Gatsby. And both of them are incredible, and so one of the coolest parts about just looking at these, and there’s a link in the show notes to the article, and then inside the article has the demo sites. And the demo sites, they are so snappy and responsive, it is incredible. So, you open up the Gatsby theme for WordPress, and you click the “Read More” button, and the whole thing refreshes before the mouse even clicks up. I mean, it is incredible how fast it is, and if you use the menu items across the top, you click on them, and again, by the time you’re lifting the mouse up, you are getting in that next page, which is really incredible and it goes so, so fast.

And so, that’s one of the coolest parts about the article itself is just using Gatsby, there’s newer – I’m saying newer because it’s this new, I guess, JavaScript framework or whatnot – but using Gatsby as a way to build themes I think is going to be part of the future of WordPress, just seeing how fast, and I just got inspired. I wanna change my entire website to a Gatsby related theme, but of course, I know no Gatsby, and I don’t know if I could modify the starter theme enough to do it. But there are setup instructions on GitHub and the demo site shows you everything that’s in there. So, I would recommend checking it out if you’re interested in seeing a very speedy site. Granted, it’s a WordPress site with a couple pages and a few posts, so it’s not very big, but it still is very, very speedy. I really, really like it. So, that is all about Gatsby themes, and that’s going to wrap up the news for this week.

I do have a plugin that I wanted to share with you today, and it is called – of course, I find all these plugins, and I don’t know exactly how to say them all, but this is Innozilla Skins for Contact Form 7. So, Innozilla Skins for Contact Form 7. I think it’s kinda funny that I’m talking about a form plugin, and I also had news about plugins or form plugins, and then we’re gonna talk about not using a plugin but using a Google Sheets. But anyways, we’ll talk about that in just a second.

But Innozilla Contact Form 7 Skins makes creating Contact Form 7s easy, even if you don’t know HTML and CSS. And so, one of the things that is the biggest downfall with Contact Form 7, and it is one of those plugins that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people are using it, but the big thing is setting it up and configuring it is kind of a pain because there’s no drag and drop feature like a lot of the other big name plugins and whatnot, but this plugin, Innozilla Contact Form 7 Skins, it extends the functionality of Contact Form 7 by tweaking the settings that can be found in a special tab inside the settings. So, it helps you go in, and you can change things, you can change the label style, you can change the general settings. It basically is giving you all of the settings and the features that you would need some custom CSS to do or that you would need some coding skills required to do, and you can do this all now with Contact Form 7.

It is a free plugin on the WordPress repository. It was just added just a few days ago. It doesn’t have many active installs because it’s a brand-new plugin, but I thought I would talk about it and showcase it. So, if you are using Contact Form 7 as your contact form, I recommend checking out this plugin and seeing if it can help you create the perfect contact form for you. And this is perfect if you’ve been using Contact Form 7 for years and maybe you wanna spice it up and change the layout or change some of the visuals of your website, then you can use the Innozilla Contact Form 7 Skins plugin. And you can find it on the show notes and in the WordPress directory if you search for Innozilla Skins for Contact Form 7. Wow, that is a mouthful.

All right, let’s move on to the main show topic. Today, like I said, we’re going to talk about contact forms and using contact forms or embedding a Google Form into WordPress. And there are a couple reasons to do this, and I think I’ll talk about the reasons first, and then we’ll talk about how to actually do this. Let’s first start with what Google Forms is. Google Forms is one of the suites or one of the applications inside the suites. There’s Google Docs, there’s Google Sheets, there’s Google Pages, so all of those different things, but Google Forms is kind of its own product or its own thing inside of the Google Suites application, and it basically is a drag-and-drop visual builder to build out a complete form, whether you need check boxes or – anything. Anything that you can do with Contact Form 7, or Gravity Forms, or Ninja Forms, anything like that, you can build with Google Forms.

And it has the same intuitiveness as a Microsoft Word document or a Google Sheets document and whatnot, and it has the ability to log in and you can put in all of your data. The best part about this is you can use one form on multiple websites. So, if you build out a contact form, and you want all of your results to come to one place, the best thing to do would be use a Google Form, and to do that, you build a form, and then maybe you put it on your website, and then maybe you share it on a social account. Even if you send it to Gmail users as an embedded form, like you send a link, the form itself will be embedded in your Gmail browser, which I think is pretty cool. And so, those are some of the reasons that you might want to use a Google Form.

And you can do all kinds of things, like I said, with Google Forms. You can create surveys, or you can use it for applications, registration. You can format all your fields for text, or paragraph, or multiple choice options. You can collect email addresses for newsletter subscribers. You can drag and drop questions, and you can easily arrange them if you wanna move things around. You can add images and YouTube videos, all within the form itself. You have different themes, and designs, and customizations. The managing responses is the really cool part because all of your responses go into a Google Sheet, and then from there, you can organize them, and you can sort them and filter them and do all the things that you could do with an Excel spreadsheet, you can do that. And every time a new result comes in, your pages just updated.

So, if you wanted to do some intense – I don’t know, if you’re looking to do all kinds of things on a Google Sheet with all the results, maybe you put a form on your website and you’re asking for all kinds of things. In the years past, I’ve done a survey, like what would you like to hear more about on YourWebsiteEngineer.com? What do you like? What don’t you like? All those types of thing. Then, those all come into WordPress, and once they’re inside of WordPress, then what I have to do is I have to export them to an Excel sheet. And then, every time I export, like two or three days later go by, a bunch of more people have submitted the form, and now you’ve gotta export again, or you’ve gotta copy and paste it again, and it’s kind of a pain. But with a Google Form, every time somebody fills out the form, it will automatically go into the same sheet. So, even if you are working on it, you’ll see new updates come in, which is really nice.

And so, that’s some of the benefits of using Google Forms. Now, the Google suite of products come with any Gmail account or if you’re using Google apps, you can get the power of Google Forms, and you can go ahead and build them. And what you’d wanna do is you first go into your Gmail account or you log in to your Gmail account, and then go to Docs.Google.com/forms, or you can also go to create a new template or create a new document and then select forms from inside of Google, and then you will start to build out your form. It starts as a blank form. You enter a form title in the description. You fill out the form fields, you add everything that you need, and then you can customize your form to ensure it blends in with your website. You can change the fonts, add images, add video. It’s kind of limited, so you can’t do everything, so you might find that it doesn’t match perfectly, but you can go ahead and you can get it as close as possible. Again, I don’t think people are not gonna fill out your form because it’s not perfectly matched to your website, so you have to think about that as well.

Now, once you have your form completely built, and you’re happy with it, you will use the button in the upper corner – it’s in the upper right-hand corner – that says “send”, and then you’ll be directed to a page with three different sharing options. And so, you’ll be able to share via email, or you’ll have a link, or the last one is the HTML embed code. And you can take that Google Form embed code, and you can go over to a post or page, and with the new block section, you use the custom HTML block inside of the block editor, and then you paste in that iframe. You can hit “preview” in the top right corner, and you can see your form built right in. If you’re happy with them, then obviously you click “save” or “publish” and you can get that online right away.

There used to be, back in the day, a plugin for embedding Google Forms but as of a few years ago, Google removed the need for that plugin, so it just works without the plugin, but you also can use a form plugin like Forminator, and it has a built-in integration with Google Sheets, so that provides much better styling options for WordPress and allows you to create more advanced forms. It’s called Forminator, and you can use a Forminator plugin, and it allows you to build out and really customize those Google Forms.

And so, like I said, the benefits for doing this are that you have one form for multiple websites. You can send your form directly to people via email, or you can copy your form for manual sharing, or you can share your form on Facebook or Twitter. You don’t have to send them directly to your page. You can send them right to that form itself. It works with other Google products, and so you can have that functionality so you can have YouTube videos right on the form without people ever leaving the form. And then, the form reporting, again, is one of the most powerful features of using this is you can review your responses, you can have them accessed directly from the form dashboard, you can use charts and graphs if you need to depending on the type of answers that you’re getting.

Each block of data comes with an embed code, which means you can copy and paste specific blocks into Google products, so you can pull things into a Google Doc, and if it is a form or a pie chart or something, as those results are updated from people submitting the form, then those will be updated in the Google Docs as well. So, there’s a whole bunch of reasons why you might use a Google Form. I think for the most part, with a contact form or you’re trying to get people to sign up for a product or things like that, forms built on your website with Contact Form 7, or Gravity Forms, or Ninja Forms, something like that is going to be really, really good.

But if you are trying to get people to sign up for some sort of contest that you want people to share or if, again, you’re trying to get a bunch of responses, and you’re gonna do something with all this data that you’re getting in, then I think Google Forms is going to be the perfect solution for your WordPress site. So, that’s what I wanna share with you this week. It’s all about Google Forms and we’ll continue to talk about WordPress as I’m getting back into the swing of things with all of the things that are happening in the WordPress space, all the things that I’ve missed at work, and I’m just really excited and happy to be back.

I’m heading out to WordPress Columbus, I guess, tomorrow or the day this releases, so Wednesday and Thursday of this week, August 7th and 8th, so if you’re in the Columbus area, be sure to check me out. Let me know that you’re there, and I’ll be happy to spend some time just hanging out and talking about WordPress. So, with that, that’s all I wanted to share. Thanks so much for sticking with me and tuning in after the sabbatical, and I’m ready to bring back full, regular shows on a weekly basis. So, that’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.

For more great WordPress information, head on over to YourWebsiteEngineer.com.

And thank you all for those who have reached out via direct messages whether or not my family is safe from the incident that happened in Dayton on Sunday morning. We are all good. We are actually out of town for the weekend at my parents’ house, so we are super safe. But that was one of our favorite areas in Dayton, so it’s so sad that a tragedy like that happened in that area. My wife and I went to dinner there just maybe two weeks ago. So, thanks so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, and we’ll talk again next week. Bye-bye.