Online survey software reviews: reliable or unreliable?

You are ready to do your first online survey or increase the volume of surveys that you are conducting. The obvious thing to do is to use Google to find the right tool. Whilst Google’s algorithms are undoubtedly impressive, when you are searching for a more professional online survey tool than the one that most people use, it can be tough finding that right software system.

Finding the right software tool for you

The aim of this article is to guide you to the right online survey software for your needs and question whether online reviews are helpful and reliable. If you rely on Google, you will find the most used online survey systems rather than, perhaps, th

e one that meets your needs best.

Easy surveys are easy to do

A lot of organisations now conduct surveys. Many of these surveys just would not have happened 15 years ago. If you belong to a club, you might receive a link to a questionnaire by email asking you (sometimes very badly) about your opinions about the club or frequency of visiting etc. Students often use free software to conduct simple surveys to assist with their research.

Doing online surveys professionally

The problem comes when you want to conduct online surveys professionally. If you look for online reviews, you will find plenty of people raving about some of the free online systems. However, if their needs are very basic and they have no budget, this might be a very different market from someone who wants to conduct research for a prestigious client.

Why is software free?

Free software is free for a good reason. There are two main reasons – a) It is very or fairly limited – in other words, it needed little investment to put together or b) The pricing is designed to tempt you in with a low/free entry point which increases as you start to use the system more. I guess there is a third possibility that someone is testing the market and seeing how well their offering is received before investing more.

What’s the problem with free software?

Let’s start by saying that if it does what you want and is good enough for all the surveys you wish to carry out, there is no reason to look further. The reality is though that often you want features that may not be present. Here’s a few examples:

  • The survey needs to look good and can be adapted for any type of device – it needs to be adaptable for desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone
  • Complex question routing is possible – you can use simple or complex logic to choose which people answer each question
  • Response processing – you can use answers to questions as texts for subsequent questions (e.g. Why is Coca Cola your favourite drink?)
  • Data availability – you can easily get the data into the form that you and/or your client want
  • Panel access – you want access to a panel of your choice
  • Questionnaire appearance – the questionnaire looks visually appealing. If it looks dull, response rates will drop dramatically
  • Rating scales can be displayed in different ways – most questionnaires have rating scales. These can be tedious for respondents and become a source of poor response and inaccurate data. Having different ways of asking these types of questions and making it more interactive creates a better user experience which leads to significantly better response rates.
  • Multiple languages – many surveys are needed in multiple languages
  • Data manipulation – it may be important to manipulate the data or merge it with a previous year’s survey, for example
  • Creation of variables – it is often important to be able to create variables, which are created from one or more questions (e.g. age within gender, grouping a number into ranges)
  • Analysis and reporting – you may want to tabulate or produce charts from the data. Can you do this?
  • You want to allow respondents the ability to upload video or pictures
  • You want to show respondents video or pictures on any device

Making sure you have the features you need

You probably do not need all of the features listed above, but the more surveys you conduct professionally, the more likely it is that you will want a growing number on the items on that list. And, of course, the list doesn’t stop there.

Declaring my bias

I admit that I am biased. I strongly believe that Snap is the best product on the market, offering all the above and a lot more. But this is not about Snap, it’s about considering the limitations of the free or low entry cost online survey tools that are available and not relying on Google. Google will veer towards the most popular sources, but in a market where the amateurs outweigh the professionals in numbers, you will not necessarily find the most relevant reviews.

About Snap

We sell Snap as we think it gets the balance right. It makes questionnaire preparation reasonably easy and intuitive. It is packed with features. It handles data, tabulations, charts and reports to a high standard and allows you to export data to all the common formats. Added to that, it is competitively priced.

Alternatives to Snap

There are other products. Most are either more expensive or are more complex to use. Products like Confirmit might be able to handle the most complex of requirements but it comes at a price. Similarly, products like Confirmit and Beacon require knowledge of scripting languages like Javascript to get any benefit from them.

Getting the right software for you

Our policy is only to sell you Snap if we think it is the right product for your needs. That might sound as though it is easy to say, but we only want clients who are well matched to our products and services. If a free product does everything you want, then that’s fine. Similarly, if you need a product that you can program to do whatever you may ever want, Confirmit is probably a good choice.

Find out more

To find out more, contact our Senior Product Consultant, And, remember two things: 1) Look beyond the first page when you search using Google 2) Make sure what you choose has the features you need as changing can be painful.