Online survey tools
There is little doubt that online surveys can prove to be immensely beneficial for research. To gauge responses, questionnaires administered online can save time and money besides offering convenience. A good online survey system can have an impact on the data gathered. Obviously needs vary and based on the requirements any online survey system can be good. After all, the ones we can find online are in business.
Working on a research with my colleague on an important project, a need arose to conduct an online survey. A popular name SurveyMonkey was the obvious choice as many colleagues are also using it. Initially Surveymonkey seemed quite promising; however the nature of our complicated survey forced us to look at other options.
There are some features that I feel an online questionnaire must have. The ability to bold, italicize, and underline text can come in handy when some words needs to be emphasized. For some, aesthetics can play a major role in the choice of an online survey system. In addition, a survey system would allow us to present the survey questions clearly and send a link to the online survey to the participants. Good representation of data, once it has been collected also matters. So I decided to do a little research into the different options available and what should a person be actually looking for in an online survey system.
A simple Google search shows that there are number online survey systems available. Some of the useful features in an online survey that you should be looking for are as follows:
- Design Flexibility – This would imply having a survey that can be customized according to needs. The ability to alter formatting, color scheme, background, logo, add pictures and videos where needed simply makes the questionnaire more powerful.
- Skip logic – As evident from the name, building “skip logic” in a questionnaire would enable a user to jump to a different question when needed. Designers may also want at a certain spot in the questionnaire to let respondents skip to a different section if some questions do not apply to them.
- Piping – This allows for efficient follow-up questions, as answers can be pulled from an answer in another part of the survey. For example, a question may ask about the software package you use such as SPSS, and a follow-up question can ask about the features that you like about the software package, then piping would allow for the name SPSS to fill into the space automatically.
- Website integration – As evident from the name, website integration allows for the survey to be integrated or embedded in a web-page.
- Data analysis – Data analysis forms the gist of any survey. Only through an analysis of raw data can we reach some conclusions. A good survey system would offer good visual data representation. This data may also be download-able in MS Excel format and used for statistical interpretation.
A range of options are available to conduct online surveys. While some are free of cost, most involve a cost. Depending on the functionality and features, prices may vary. From an educator’s point of view in a research university, there are a number of great options available. It is up to the user to decide what suits him/her best. SurveyGizmo has proven to be the most user-friendly with greater flexibility. Here is a comparison of the different options in SurveyGizmo. Other choices that are worth mentioning besides surveymonkey and surveygizmo are zoomerang, polldaddy and Limesurvey. If you have some time at your disposal, you may also consider using Google Docs for creating an online survey for free. The form function in Google Docs is quite useful in creating great surveys online.
A good survey system offers flexibility. To be able to decide the color scheme, formatting, data representation and overall design are what we should be generally looking for. The choice of an online survey system should be made based on the actual need and not just whats looks most fancy.