Friday, 1 July 2016

Creating online surveys

Online surveys are a useful way of gathering information about a specific topic. There are a number of sites that offer the ability to create surveys. They can vary based on price and features. Beware sites that offer free surveys as they usually have limitations with their free offering. Most of the free sites offer a basic service which will be restricted to the number of questions you can ask or have limited flexibility in the layout of the questions. Some other restrictions can be a lack of ability to export your survey results which can severely limit the usefulness of the data collection. Paid offerings can provide analysis of the data in a graphical format as well as the ability to export your data in various formats. Some of the most popular paid sites are surveymonkey.com and surveyplanet.com. 

There is one exception to the limitation of the free offerings. Google offers a free survey building service through their Forms service. You will need a Google account to use this as it relies on the Google Docs engine to store the data. Google Forms offers a wide range of options for formatting questions that should cover most needs e.g. radio buttons, multiple choice answers, date picker. You can also add validation to your questions so you can ensure that the data entered is accurate. e.g. you can create a regular expression that can ensure that a proper email address is entered in the Email field.  Google Forms can also be used to create a printable copy for offline processing of a survey (for those who don't have access to the online form). Once you have collated your responses you also get a well formatted summary complete with graphs and summary tables.  For more information on Google forms go to https://www.google.com.au/forms/about/

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