Researchers can now breathe easy. Research work and methods have become efficient and non-cumbersome with the development of survey software. The first step to any research is data collection, and one of the methods of data collection is conducting surveys. For a survey on any topic, a good number of responses are required to analyze data meaningfully. Here arises the problem of finding and contacting the appropriate number and kind of people who would agree to take part. It is indeed tedious, expensive and time-consuming to reach people and conduct surveys. The survey software has solved these problems in a blink, and further development of online survey software has beaten all forms of survey methods.
The online survey software takes just a few minutes to launch, does not need to be downloaded and is interactive to respondents as well. All one needs to do is use the survey wizard in the web browser and get started. The first step to build a survey is to select from the given templates, where questions and answer choices can be selected. Questions can be single, multiple response, matrix type or open ended. An entirely new survey design can be created without any programming skills. A ‘branching’ option is available, where respondents are asked or skipped questions depending on the previous answers they give.
Once a survey is created, a ‘publish survey’ link is available to distribute it as a web link through emails and is also automatically hosted on the vendor’s website. Results are automatically collected and analyzed. Data can also be exported into other programs for analysis.
Vendors offer facilities for customization, such as adding company logos, graphics and images, and changing the background, fonts and colors. Options are also available for running multiple online surveys at a time. Online surveys guarantee that important questions are not left unanswered before the survey is submitted. Instant email invitations can be sent directly from the server using the flexible email tool. Options are also available to limit the number of respondents and prevent them from taking the survey more than once. Passwords can be given to respondents in invitation-only online surveys.
The online survey software is available at yearly subscriptions from many vendors. Some provide the options of starter and professional versions. Starter versions are free with limited features and ideal for budding entrepreneurs or students, whereas professional versions are paid and include all features possible.
The online survey method has many clear benefits over other methods of surveying. But as simple and easy it may sound, it also can have certain limitations. For instance, this method may not give a representative sample, as everybody does not have access to a PC and the internet. In some cases, online survey software should be used to complement other methods, and not as a total replacement of conventional methods.