Better than ESP
Most of us are used to soliciting user feedback via mailed surveys or telephone surveys but are overlooking the more cost-effective Web surveys. Web surveys, in addition to needing very little manpower to deploy, have the added benefit of being able to tabulate data on the fly. In his article, “What are They Thinking?,” PC Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 3, February 8, 2000, Nelson King evaluates different software applications and services available to survey users via your corporate Web site or via email.
The editor’s choice was Perseus’s SurveySolutions for the Web 2.0 ($179). Testers found the surveys easy to create using the Microsoft Office-like Wizards and interfaces. The software offers users a spreadsheet-like interface to add data, and it contains powerful tools for analyzing the data once it has been submitted.
Another application worth mentioning is Raosoft’s EZsurvey99 ($399). Although the interface used for creating the surveys is not as easy to use as SurveySolutions, EZsurvey offers data-validation tools that SurveySolutions lacks. EZsurvey allows you to make certain questions mandatory or to skip questions entirely if they are not applicable based on previous answers. EZsurvey does not have the analysis or reporting tools that Survey- Solutions offers.
WebSurveyor 2.0 ($199) also ranked high in tests for its easy to-use-interface; however, it lacked the advanced features of the other products. For $199, WebSurveyor will host your survey for three months and allow up to 1 MB of data to be stored on their server. The advantage to using WebSurveyor is that is extremely easy to set up because it requires no configuration on your Web-site server. The disadvantage is that it lacks many of the powerful features of the other software applications.