By now most of us are very familiar with Surveymonkey, the online survey and questionnaire tool. Even if you’re not, chances are you’ve been asked at one stage or another to answer a bunch of questions online – whether it’s a course evaluation, expression of interest form, course signup sheet or general feedback questionnaire. The ability to design and share surveys online and crucially analyse responses is incredibly useful, not just for the commercial sector selling and promoting products but for educators too. Companies offering online surveys (Surveymonkey is currently market leader but there are many more) recognise this and actively target the education sector offering “education” form templates which can be easily adapted; from straightforward contact forms to student and course assessment surveys. Most of these companies offer a variety of pricing plans from free (basic) to pro (premium subscription service) with some offering educators and NGOs discounted pro services.
Like most free services Surveymonkey’s free plan is basic and can be rather restricting allowing only 10 questions, 100 responses and little customisation. I’ve used Surveymonkey’s premium service for feedback on two education projects and the reporting feature in particular was excellent. It allowed the analysis of data in real-time, the browsing and drilling down of individual responses and the downloading of results in various formats. I could also set restrictions on numbers of responses and create cut-off dates. All in all it was perfect for my data analysis purposes but what about my respondents? Could I have done better?
Recently I’ve had to look for an alternative and ideally I wanted a tool that would increase user engagement. Let’s face it online questionnaires can be terminally boring. Who doesn’t yawn when they’re presented with what can often look like a wasteland of endless questions. Getting online surveys right is not an easy thing to do. How do we keep it simple, without compromising on the survey aims? How do we create forms that are visually appealing to respondents resulting in higher response rates?
Typeform is one online survey tool that has managed to merge data collection with clever, visually appealing, engaging design. Completing a Typeform survey is very different from Surveymonkey for instance. Gone are the multiple options and sometimes off putting list of questions all displayed on one screen to be replaced with a form that asks one question at a time, slowly drawing the respondent in, or as the blurb puts it “like a real-time conversation”. And that’s their usp in a nutshell, their surveys feel less of an interrogation and more of a conversation. It’s all very graphic orientated with some lovely images available to use. There are also some great ready to go templates for Educators which are easily customisable including Quizzes, Course Evaluation Forms, Registration Forms and Contact Forms. Some of these have pro features which you can turn off, so there’s no need to upgrade.
Simple Drop and Drag Design
Using a drop and drag format users can very quickly and simply learn how to design and build attractive, engaging forms using a variety of question types. This makes editing and rearranging questions very easy resulting in super quick survey design. Great for impromptu student quizzes for instance!
You can embed your forms on your website or on social media such as Tumblr or Facebook or even within an email; a very handy feature that can extend your survey’s reach if that’s what’s required or allow you to narrow it to your specific target audience. All forms are responsive, looking good on whatever device your respondents use, from mobiles to desktops. You can find more information on embedding here.
Analysing your responses is easy too. Like the design interface the reporting screen is very simple offering Metrics across devices, and Results that you can download in .xlsx format. You can even track your form with Google Analytics.
Unlike Surveymonkey the free version does not limit the number of questions or respondents, so you have much more creative freedom. The pro version is more important for those wanting to thoroughly brand the form filling experience from Welcome Screen to Thank You page; however there is plenty of customisation available with the free version. Choose your own:
- Button, text, and background colours
- Font (30+ Google Fonts)
- Image backgrounds
Surveymonkey is a really useful tool and I will continue to use it for some projects, particularly when I need a high level of data analysis and reporting flexibility. However Typeform is a great alternative and is particularly suited for school and classroom use, whether you want to get feedback from parents on a particular issue and would like to embed the form on your school site or send by email or you want to run a quick quiz to test learning. Children, in particular, would find this much more engaging and visually appealing. You can try it out for free at Typeform.com. Just choose a template or create one from scratch and you could have a great looking form created in minutes.