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Create an online survey

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Welcome back for March's Quick Byte #3!

Today we'll look at tips and methods for creating online surveys and collecting feedback using available web-based tools, many of which are free. PLUS THERE IS A GIVEAWAY AT THE END!!!


What

Online surveys are a way to gather feedback data from your survey audience in a convenient, cost-effective way. Online surveys can be used to gather opinions, assess knowledge, evaluate events, determine interest and availability, and I'm sure a million other uses!

Please note that the Extension Evaluation team has lots of resources if you have more advanced questions about assessing your program. UM Extension Program Evaluation resources (login required)


Why

Web-based tools make delivering surveys easy and, in most cases, can also help you organize the results. Audience feedback can be invaluable in decision-making regarding your program. It can also just be an easy way to get a vote on a simple detail (lunches, agenda items, etc)! All you need from your audience is their email addresses and a willingness to give feedback. Making online surveys is so easy, you'll have to remind yourself not to do it too often!

Which reminds me, I made a survey for you!

Quick Bytes: Topic Interest Survey

Thank you for taking it!


How

I'm going to go over the online tools for audience feedback that I prefer. There are lots to choose from so you will of course need to evaluate what fits best for your purpose. Please leave a comment if you know of another one that might be useful to Extension work!


Thumbnail image for surveymonkey.pngSurveymonkey

I have done a lot of Surveymonkey surveys, and it is a great tool, but it does have a few quirks.

First positive thing, it's fast. I used Surveymonkey for the survey you just took (hopefully! go take it!) on Quick Byte topics. It allows for easy cutting and pasting so I had that survey setup in less than 2 minutes... KA-CHOW!! (..."and it looks like it," you're thinking...). 

Second, it's free. Surveymonkey has a free option, but even better, Extension has a paid organizational account! You can contact the IT Help Desk to learn how to have access to our account.

Third, it gives you a nice organized spreadsheet and charts of your results. This is a huge time saver for me! Look, you can even share them on a web page! (you can password protect this if you wanted)

And fourth, it's got all kinds of fancy "logic" features. If someone answers the question "how many school-age kids do you have" with zero, then you can have it skip the next whole page about what are their after school activities. (or whatever!) Pretty cool.

As for the quirks. I really wish it had the ability to do email notifications when a response is submitted. This drives me crazy. What this means is that you can't use Surveymonkey for any kind of "response requested" form, like a trouble ticket or a contact form.

Also, it does not allow file attachments. So using Surveymonkey to submit proposals or reviews is a problem. You can make a giant text box(es) for people to paste into, but everything will lose all its formatting and you will have a heck of a job cleaning that up (been there, done THAT). 

But all things considered, Surveymonkey is my go-to tool. For a good video tutorial, watch this one on YouTube.


Wufoo

wufoo.pngWufoo is a great online survey tool, and is very similar to Surveymonkey. The reason I am including it AND Surveymonkey is that it does email notifications AND file attachments. ALLELUIA!

My main reason for showing a slight preference for Surveymonkey is that it is paid for. ha! (Wufoo does have a free option, but it limits you to only 3 surveys and 100 responses.)

In case you're not familiar with Wufoo, here is a form I made. You can snoop around and submit it and see how it feels.

My recommendation is to create a test survey, maybe just the first few questions of your actual survey, in both Wufoo and Surveymonkey and you will see right away what works best for you. I always need to send my surveys to a group for review, and Surveymonkey allows me to set that up as a separate data set (which I can then ignore in the final results). Also, Surveymonkey allows me to cut and paste more easily than Wufoo. Stuff like that, as well as the email notification and file upload features and cost, will make your decision for you.


UMSurvey

UMSurvey is the University of Minnesota's centrally-supported survey tool. It is in the process of being retired, so I'm not really going to talk about it. You can read about the project to replace it here.


Google Forms

googleform.pngGoogle Forms can sometimes be a great tool for online surveys. If you need email notifications and have a simple survey form, Google Forms is definitely the way to go. And you can't beat the price!! (free)

The times I have used Google Forms for online surveys, the main reason was so that I could then "hand it off" to whomever I was creating it for. Since it is essentially just a Google Doc, that is very easy to do!

However, the survey results are just dumping to a spreadsheet table and therefore you will get no fancy data organization here. That kind of bugs me after working with Surveymonkey and Wufoo so much. And beware--you can't duplicate a form. This is a huge pain for me, since I use similar forms year after year.

We will have a whole unit on Google Forms coming up later on!

Doodle

doodle.pngDoodle is not an online survey tool, really, but more of a quick polling tool for finding a meeting time. But it is so awesome, you have to know about it!! So I put it in this unit. Go check it out, you don't need an account or anything.

Assignment

  1. Click through to Surveymonkey, Wufoo, and Doodle. Poke around until you feel like you know what it would take to get started.
  2. Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with something here, or found something else interesting to share.
  3. Pat yourself on the back!

But Wait there's MORE!

Every University of Minnesota Extension-affiliated employee who leaves a comment below, or via twitter (use tag #ExtQuickBytes), facebook, or google+ during the time period March 29-April 4, 2012 will be entered to win this fabulous prize--a paper tweet notepad, for communicating tweets the old-fashioned way!

papertweet.JPG




2 Comments

renc0003 Author Profile Page said:

Awesome examples of easy to use online surveys-some I'd never heard of before. Thanks! :)

thbrown Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for the info that UM Extension has a Survey Monkey account.

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