Why do we love polls so much? It just feels really good to share your opinion about something -- whether you're weighing in on your favorite videos, choosing a new design, making a political comment, or voting for the best vacation spot. And polls and surveys offer a good way to engage your visitors and gather crucial feedback. The following tools make it easy to create polls that elicit the information you need.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: Poll EverywherePoll Everywhere (Figure A) is a fun and easy-to-use polling app that is designed to help you get a quick, live response from your audience, whether they're using their browsers or their smartphones. You can easily create a poll and then send respondents codes they can text back or enter using the unique browser URL they receive for your poll. The results are tabulated in real time and displayed in your browser window. Very slick!
Poll Everywhere lets you gather and share instant poll results.
You can share your poll results on Facebook or Twitter or send others a link to view the results. What's more, Poll Everywhere makes it easy for you to display your results on PowerPoint slides, so you can incorporate live feedback into your presentations.
Poll Everywhere is available with a basic free account that enables you to create an unlimited number of polls for up to 40 people. There are also several paid plans based on the number of possible respondents you hope to have (into the tens of thousands). This is a tool worth testing if you like the idea of gathering live results from folks and tabulating and sharing results on the fly.
2: EasyPollsEasyPolls was a bit surprising. It didn't even ask me to log in before it displayed the first question page. As you type your question and answers on the left, they appear in the right preview area (Figure B). After you click Save, EasyPolls will prompt you to create an account (gotcha!) and then send the login information you need to the email address you enter.
EasyPolls is a free survey tool that is simple to use and easy to share.You can choose a design for your poll by clicking the Looks & Feel tab and choosing the style you like (Figure C). You can also share your poll easily using a number of social media tools or embed the poll directly on your blog or Web page. Once your poll has been posted awhile, you can get a sense of how people are responding by clicking the My Polls tab and clicking the Reports button. You can see where people are responding from and how they are answering, which just might help you fine-tune the content you're posting on your blog or site.
EasyPolls offers a selection of format options for your polls.
SurveyMonkey is a popular survey tool that lets you gather data from anyone who has access to the Web. The Basic edition (10 questions / 100 responses per survey) is free. There are also three paid versions that offer additional features. You can create a survey using the online tools, collect the responses from those invited to take the survey, and then analyze the results you get.Begin by going to the SurveyMonkey site and clicking the Sign Up FREE button. After you enter your account information, the SurveyMonkey screen spells out the basics of the process for you. Just click Create Survey to get started. You can then choose a category for your new survey (Figure D). If you want to use an existing template, click Use An Expert Survey Template and choose the desired category.
Survey Monkey is an easy-to-use survey tool you can customize to fit the look and feel you want to display.
Click Add Question, type the text for your question, and choose a question type. If necessary, enter the choices users will select as they answer the question. Rinse and repeat until you've added all the questions you want to include. Click Send Survey to get the URL you can share with people who want to take the survey. You can also post the URL to your blog or Web page if you like (or share it on Facebook or Twitter).
4: Constant Contact
I don't know if you've noticed this, but it seems like every third newsletter I get from a business or nonprofit group is produced using Constant Contact. Now Constant Contact has entered the online survey arena, which is smart since it's already collecting your contact lists. You can try the Constant Contact survey tool free for 60 days, after which it starts at $15 per month.Once you enter all your information to start the trial, click Create A Survey Now in the Constant Contact Surveys & Polls window (Figure E). Enter a name for the survey and then choose whether you want to start with a survey template or a blank survey. (Another option here is to let Constant Contact do the whole thing for you.)
To begin your survey, you click Create A Survey Now.After you make your choice, click Next. When you click Question to the right of the Add Here link, Constant Contact prompts you to choose the question type you want to create (Figure F). Then, enter your question and corresponding answers. You can click the check boxes at the bottom of the question form if you want those taking the survey to be able to add comments or if you want to require that participants answer the question. Click Save to save the question and click Question to add the next one.
You can choose a question type from this list.
Continue until you have all the questions you want and then click Save & Continue. Constant Contact gives you the option of creating a greeting page for those taking your survey or having them go straight to the survey page. You can also tweak a closing page and give survey takers the option of going to your Web site or receiving a friendly thank you. Finally, you can preview (and edit, if necessary) the survey and then click Test and then Publish to go live with your survey.
5: Question Pro
Question Pro is an online survey tool that boasts clients such as Microsoft, Honeywell, Motorola, ING, and Qwest. You can create one survey (10 questions / 100 responses) for free. Two paid plans offer unlimited surveys, questions, and responses, in addition to more sophisticated features, such as skip logic, email list management, and data segmentation.Similar to other survey tools, you can sign up with only your email address and gain access to everything you need to create your first Web survey. After you log in, click the Create A New Survey button. As Figure G shows, Question Pro gives you the option of copying a survey template, starting a new blank survey, or adding a survey from a Word file -- a nice feature. Click Continue and Question Pro prompts you to enter a name for the survey. Choose the template you'd like to apply and click Finish.
Question Pro gives you multiple options for creating a survey.Question Pro walks you through the process of adding questions and intro text and then brings you back to the Edit Survey tab, where you can edit questions, add logic, change the font or layout, insert more questions, and much more (Figure H).
The Edit Survey page lets you fine-tune the content, appearance, and behavior of your survey.
Recommend online survey apps
What are your favorite poll and survey apps? Share your recommendations with TechRepublic readers.
Katherine Murray is a technology writer and the author of more than 60 books on a variety of topics, ranging from small business technology to green computing to blogging to Microsoft Office 2010. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010).