By Dave Overfelt

There are a lot of survey tools out there and it is easy to get tied to one because it is popular or familiar, which aren’t great reasons to use any tool. As you plan your survey, it may make sense to use one or more survey tools. Here I offer a general overview of the themes across survey tools and a more detailed discussion of individual survey tools.

Plan ahead and pick your tools around three core questions. Who are you surveying? What information do you want to gather? How do you want to report it?

If you need to ask lots of questions you will need SurveyGizmo or LimeSurvey. If you need to download your data for analysis you will need Typeform or LimeSurvey. If you have an audience that doesn’t really like surveys, you may want to pick a familiar tool like SurveyMonkey. Think about how sensitive the data is, you definitely should not use a free version of a survey to collect sensitive data. If sending a survey might end up with you losing volunteers or program participants, don’t rush into anything.There are lots of considerations here so you can just pick a single focus to get started! 

The descriptions of survey plans vary from a short three bullet points to a ridiculous long list of every possible thing you can do with a survey. Here is a selection of four tools with prices as of mid-February 2020. If there is another tool you are considering, send the link to me (dave@kolibriassociates.com) and I will take a look, add it to the post, and check the prices for any changes. In addition to the prices below, many of these tools have enterprise setups with custom deployment and price proposals.

Remember, when you use a free tool online, you are the product. Your data, your questions, the way you ask questions, the way users interact with your survey, and many more data points emerge to help a survey business improve their work and sell more subscriptions.

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Typeform makes the Nicest Looking Surveys

I have not deployed Typeform in the real world but a stroll through some of the free elements is impressive. It is easy to use and feature rich. If you need to ask more than 10 questions you will have to use more than one survey or may need to just use a different tool. But overall, if you want to make a very nice looking, snappy survey quickly, this may be a good route for you. The paid versions run $35 and $70 a month and have a long list of features. You can learn more here.

Typeform Free Features

  • 3 typeforms.
  • 10 questions per typeform.
  • 100 responses per month.
  • Templates.
  • Reports and metrics.
  • Email notification when someone completes your typeform.
  • Embed your typeform in a web page.
  • Download your data.

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SurveyGizmo is A Great All Around Middle Ground

I have not used SurveyGizmo  in the real world either but a work through of the free side and I can say it is very capable. When you get into the paid versions you can integrate your surveys with data visualization tools. Like SurveyMonkey, you won’t be able to download your data in the free version. If you have a lot of questions to ask and don’t need to have a long list of surveys, you can get along pretty well in the free version. These surveys look good, they are easy to put together, and easy to analyze. All in all, this is a great option if it fits your needs. You can get paid versions for paid versions $25, $85, $150 a month. Learn more here.

SurveyGizmo Free

  • 3 surveys
  • Unlimited questions
  • 100 responses

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LimeSurvey Is The Most Technically Sophisticated

I worked with LimeSurvey in a large organization as a survey creator and analyst. I didn’t find the surveys I was able to create to be very visually appealing, but that could have been a consequence of our deployment and my user role. The surveys themselves can be very technical with fine grained options for how they work. If you have fewer than 25 people, want a routine internal survey for running long term analysis, and you have the internal capacity for something complex, this is an amazing tool. LimeSurvey is far more capable than any tool I have used and the cost is very low for what you can do with it. You can pay for a version you host on a local server running from $7 to $11 a month or you can have them do the hosting for $24 to $71 a month. Learn more here.

LimeSurvey Free Features

  • 25 responses/month
  • Unlimited number of surveys
  • Max 10 administrators
  • 10 MB upload storage
  • No white-labeling
  • Advertisement on end page
  • No feature restrictions

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SurveyMonkey is Easily The Most Recognizable

I have used SurveyMonkey at every organization that has used surveys. It is so common that most people who have taken an online survey will have used it. If you are surveying people who may be hesitant to put their information in a web survey, it is easy to build trust using SurveyMonkey because it is so common and familiar. The interface is fairly easy to work with and you can make surveys with skip logic. Unfortunately with the free version you aren’t able to download survey data files. You can pay for a personal level for $32 and $99 a month or go for a per user pricing at $25 and $75 a month. You can learn more here.

SurveyMonkey Free Features

  • Unlimited surveys
  • 10 questions per surveying
  • 100 responses per survey

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