Three tools for online surveys

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© Lead Image © Dusit Panyakhom, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Dusit Panyakhom, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 162/2014
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Increasingly, surveys that measure customer satisfaction, political opinion, and so on are conducted over the Internet. We researched which tools are suitable for online surveys and which help you the most with statistical analyses.

Surveys are bread and butter for market researchers, but students, companies, and journalists also need to tap into current opinion. They query the participants either in person, by telephone, in writing, or online. The benefits of computer-based surveys are obvious: The software not only provides the questionnaire via a browser but also stores the answers directly on the server. Therefore, most survey tools contain features that help with the statistical analysis, generate reports and charts, and export the data into other formats.

Platforms that host survey software  – and provide their services for smaller or larger amounts of money  – abound on the net, and I include here a representative from this category: Polldaddy [1]. In this article, I compare Polldaddy with two solutions that run on standard LAMP servers  – the open source programs LimeSurvey [2] and Opina [3]  – and look at how convenient the installation and setup is on a typical LAMP system. All three candidates were asked to show how they deal with the responses from participants, whether anonymization functions exist, and whether they help evaluate the responses and export the data for further processing.

LimeSurvey

The first test candidate comes from the open source camp and is free of charge. LimeSurvey is released under the GPL and feels at home in a classic LAMP environment. In 2003, the project was launched under the name PHPSurveyor. In 2007, it was renamed and "PHP" was removed to avoid conflicts with the PHP license.

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