Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How do I create a survey?

Want to survey your team? Your customers? Your potential market?

The easiest way I know to do this is with SurveyMonkey (here). You can easily sign up for a free account, and have a play. The free accounts have some limitations: your surveys are limited to ten questions, and you cannot export linked data. By that, I mean that each question is exported individually, not still connected to the rest of the survey data that your respondent has entered. For example, if you asked if participants were male or female, and later asked them if they preferred red or blue, you would not be able to tell how many men chose blue. You can't cross-tab your results with a free account.

That is not a mission killer while you are teaching yourself how to use the software though, and SurveyMonkey is pretty easy to learn. To create a survey, you simply drag-and-drop questions onto your 'design survey' tab, and then fill in the question and answer text. Each question type has 'help' text floating above it, so you don't need any additional Help windows.

SurveyMonkey have their own channel on YouTube, which you can access here. You will find lots of 'how to' videos which make learning so much easier than a static help file. 

After you have explored the free accounts and know what you are likely to use this for, I think it is worth signing up for a professional account. This allows you to export your linked data, to ask unlimited questions, and more question and survey logic options. I have had a paid professional account for a number of years, and the NZD$300 investment has proven worthwhile.

With a paid account you can also use skip logic on questions. Each answer to a question can send the respondent to another question (or page). For example, someone who selected "Blue" to their favourite colour could be routed to a follow-up question, such as "Why is that?". Even better, you can insert piped text, where the you can incorporate the earlier answer in your follow up question. So where Q.3 was a multiple choice question about favourite colours (eg, Red, Blue, Yellow, Green), Q.4 can ask, "Why did you prefer Blue?" and Q.10's multiple choice options can include [favourite colour] as a response, so you can learn more about that blue answer (Schindler, 9 January 2016).

The analysis tools will graph and cluster your data for you, though, as mentioned before, the free accounts have limited ability to download data. With a professional account, SurveyMonkey gives you quite a lot of options in analysing your data once you have collected it. You get a range of formatted export choices, as pdf, PowerPoint, Excel or CSV. You can also export your linked raw response data to Excel, Google Sheets, pdf or SPSS, then further crunch your numbers off-line. 

I wouldn't consider getting a paid account until you have signed up for a free account and have gained some mastery. Experiment with polls and other small surveys until you get confident with asking questions and know how much data complexity you need. There is no point collecting data if you aren't going to do anything with it.

Save getting a paid account for when you are ready to need quite layered information.


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