Use this guide if you need to create an online form or survey for your project or service.
Understand your needs and requirements
Before you build a form or survey, it’s best to understand your design needs and privacy requirements.
- Review the Analysis Elements in the Creation or Revision of a Form document to help you with the initial design assessment
- If you have a Forms Management team in your ministry, contact them for help with form design
- Review CPPM Policy Chapter 12: Information Management and Information Technology Management
- Review CPPM Policy Chapter 22: Communications and Public Engagement
- Follow the look and feel guidelines to make decisions on logos, colours and layouts
I want to collect information from the public
If you want to collect anonymous information from the public, you must:
- Inform your ministry communications director or manager from Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE). They’ll advise you on media relations and how to advertise your survey
- Connect with the Citizen Engagement team by email (email@example.com) for advice on survey design
- Speak to your ministry privacy officer and complete the required assessments
If you’re a developer, you may need to consult with your Security Officer and complete a Security Threat and Risk Assessment (STRA).
I want to use verified credentials to collect information
If your form or survey isn’t anonymous and requires people to login using an authentication system, you must:
- Review the IM/IT standards on identity management
- Contact the Identity Information Management (IDIM) team by email (IDIM.Consulting@gov.bc.ca) for help with authentication services
- They have expertise in managing identity information and credentials services like IDIR, BCeID, BC Services Card or Verifiable Credentials
Note: You may need to follow ministry-specific policies for data collection. Contact your ministry privacy officer for help.
Government-provided options are available to all ministries and no procurement is required. Your ministry may have other options available. Ask your ministry procurement specialist for details.
Common Hosted Form Service (CHEFS)
CHEFS is a tool that can be used to build forms, collect information, manage form submissions and export data for further analysis.
It is developed and managed by the B.C. government’s Common Components team at the Exchange Lab.
- It’s free for all B.C. government employees or contractors with an IDIR account
- You can build forms quickly and easily by using drag and drop components
- You can save multiple versions of your forms and control who can access them
- Supports login authentication with IDIR, Basic BCeID and Business BCeID
- Doesn’t support embedded forms. Forms must be shared by a link
- Doesn’t support in-app data analysis. Data must be exported and analyzed with another tool
CMS Forms offers one of the most complete sets of tools to meet business requirements and service objectives, including advanced features for design and functionality. CMS Forms is integrated with CMS Lite, the gov.bc.ca platform.
CMS Forms is managed by the Government Digital Experience (GDX) team.
Development is required for some CMS Forms functionality.
- You can quickly transition PDF or paper-based forms into accessible, mobile-friendly online forms
- Generate PDFs from online submissions
- You can embed forms and build a form into gov.bc.ca web pages
- Supports multiple languages
- Supports HTTP web services, JSON and Restful API integrations
- Not currently available on CMS Lite intranet websites
- Requires a monthly fee payment
- Forms can only be published on CMS Lite websites (gov.bc.ca)
Microsoft Forms, part of the Office 365 suite, is a tool for creating surveys, quizzes and polls. Use Microsoft Forms to create simple questionnaires, collect feedback and visualize response data. Microsoft Forms is available through the Office 365 enterprise-wide license.
- Free for all B.C. government employees or contractors with a B.C. government email
- Integrates easily with other Office 365 applications, including Outlook and MS Teams
- You can easily export data to Microsoft Excel for analysis
- Includes automated data visualization
- Limited technical support from the B.C. government
- Doesn’t support exporting forms
External tools may require more time and effort to set up, including procurement
- The Citizen Engagement and Research Services sections of the Goods and Services Catalogue are two options that don’t require a comprehensive procurement process
- You can also review the low-touch SaaS wayfinding guide and the SaaS directory
SurveyMonkey is a web-based tool that enables users to create their own online surveys. For analysis, data can be exported to another tool or analyzed with built-in data analysis options. A Corporate Privacy Impact Assessment (CPIA) for this tool has already been completed.
- Allows for quick and simple surveys
- Includes a library of survey templates and common survey questions
- You can export data or analyze it in the application
- Supports custom logos, colours and URLs
- Requires a procurement process
- Can’t be used for the collection of personal data
- The free version is limited. A paid license is required to use advanced features
- Limited technical support from the B.C. government
- May not be appropriate for in-depth surveying
For complex information collection needs, consider a tool that specializes in large-scale surveying. These tools provide increased functionality to help run surveys involving many people.
There are different types of survey tools available, and each tool has its own unique features and benefits.
When procuring a new tool, consider your needs and the tool’s ability to:
- Handle qualitative data, including users’ beliefs, needs and feelings
- Track opinions, attitudes, perceptions and motivations for large user groups
- Collect and analyze data from large sample sizes
- Allow users to participate in interpreting survey results
- Ensure accurate, actionable and meaningful insights from the data
- Leverage a user group or community to deliver insights
- Allow for open-ended questions that participants can answer anonymously
- Provide features to reduce survey biases
The benefits of using survey tools with these functions include:
- Being able to increase participation more efficiently and involve a greater number of individuals
- Saving time by having access to real-time analytics that compile and organize data for you
- Ensuring a fair and inclusive engagement process
- Being able to involve and raise marginalized and underrepresented perspectives to a higher degree
- Capturing the most accurate insights by allowing people to answer in their own words
Contact your procurement specialist to discuss which survey tool is right for you.