By Kathy Marquis
We’ve all gotten them in our inbox, “Just take a few minutes to answer these few questions.…” Now it’s your turn to make up your own survey and send it to a handful of friends. Also, please do take a few minutes and fill out our “23 Things for Archivists” participant survey (more info on that below.)
The most commonly used are Survey Monkey and Zoomerang, but I also recommend SurveyGizmo and the Google Docs version. SurveyGizmo and Zoomerang are the simplest. Start with the basic tutorials on survey creation. Both also include guidance on what makes a useful survey question and the structure of surveys. After you create your account, you select the look and structure of your survey and begin entering your questions. Template options for the entire survey, and lots of question types (multiple choice, drop down, open text, etc.) are offered. (Note: Zoomerang allows you to use your Google account, if you have one.) Survey Monkey and Zoomerang limit you to 10 questions in the free version (and 100 responses), but Survey Gizmo offers unlimited questions, even in the free version. It also has a plugin for WordPress which allows you to monitor responses. They also make “skip logic” or branching (answering a question one way reveals additional questions, another way hides them) only available to paid subscribers. In Zoomerang, you can import your survey (up to five questions max for free users) directly from a Word document. You can create a link to your survey, or choose to embed it in your blog. All include a reports feature that helps you analyze your results. And some, like SurveyGizmo, include a diagnostic test that gives you a score on how easy to answer your survey is (our survey passed–whew!).
As with many of the applications we’ve explored in this series, there are free versions and “upgraded” survey applications. With the cost of a subscription comes more functionality, longer surveys, and greater number of responses allowed. If you’re using Blogger for your blog, you can also create simple surveys by adding the survey gadget.
- Make up a five question survey to send to your friends. You will be creating a survey in all three applications, but it’s fine to use the same questions. Either find very understanding friends, or pick different friends for each version.
- Create a Zoomerang account and explore the tutorials. Create your brief survey, and the link, and send the link to your friends to respond. Their responses will be sent to your email. Explore the reports function to see how you can view the responses.
- Now create a SurveyGizmo account. Be sure to click on the small blue link that says “free, student and non-profit accounts available” (click on “free”), NOT the big orange Free Trial button. Set up your brief survey and send it out to a few more friends. Feel free to include firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Last but not..: please take *our* survey (created with SurveyGizmo) and tell us what you thought of this 23 Things for Archivists series–and thanks!
Take a look at the survey templates in Google Docs. This is much less “point and click” than the others, but has more versatility – and there are no limits! As you learned from the last Thing, Google Docs allows you to create your own template, if you choose – or to take advantage of the many user-generated templates, one of which may be just perfect for you. Once you choose the template, you can add and subtract questions, selecting the format (multiple choice, textbox, etc.) Be sure to rename your survey. If you store it in Google Docs, it will appear as an Excel spreadsheet with only the main questions visible. Just click on Form > Go to live form, to see the actual survey.
Why didn’t we go with Google Docs for our survey? The results are more clunky and you have to play with them more to pu them into a report.
- Did you prefer one survey utility to another? Why?
- Did you get enough responses to make a useful report? What was the nature of your survey?
- What could you imagine using a survey for?
- Could you make use of a (free) survey utility that limits you to 10 questions and 100 responses?
- “Create a Survey in Google Docs” video on YouTube
- “Comparing Survey Applications: Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey, FluidSurveys, and MySurveyLab” on Listio for Web 2.0, January 2009.