Free Online Survey Tools for WordPress

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Free online survey toolsAlways being up to a million different things is one of the perils of being me. An unfortunate side-effect is that some things tend to be neglected for a while, like this blog. One of the reasons is that I’ve been trying to research the availability and implementation of free online survey tools for WordPress.

A friend of mine wants to setup a complex survey on her WordPress blog. The idea is to ask some questions on a topic, study the reader response, gather some statistics and arrive at some conclusions — your bog standard survey stuff, really. The challenge and boon of doing an online survey is that a more complex system can be setup to get more out of the process. Ideally, the software tools should be able to gather data, compile statistics, provide some immediate feedback to the participant, and possibly interface with a mailing list or auto-response sequence to allow further contact with the reader. With these lofty goals in mind I set off on my own survey of the available tools.

  • WbExam and WbQuiz plugins
    I first stumbled upon the WbExam and WbQuiz plugins which do exactly what their names indicate. While similar in functionality, they each allow for a specialised type of online form setup. Unfortunately, the focus here is on the immediate evaluation of the answers and reader response rather than on data collection and study. After a quick look, I couldn’t find any mention or evidence that these plugins contained any data storage components at all. They are, however, very well suited for quiz and exam content that is aimed solely at the user experience, rather than statistical research.

    The other stumbling block for most might be that the questions need to be setup by editing code in a template file rather than in the WordPress administrative backend. If the functionality these provide is what you’re looking for, however, I think it’s well worth the effort.

  • Survey Gizmo
    Survey Gizmo looked like a very promising plugin, and the feature list was extensive and impressive. On further study I realised that this was not stand-alone, but instead it was a bridge plugin that connected to some sort of survey API hosted on that site as a service. As a rule I like to avoid these external services, so I passed on this one. But if you’re looking to set up feature rich surveys on your WordPress blog, and you’re not to bothered about having your site be functionally self-sufficient, this might be an interesting option.

  • WP Survey Creator
    While not blessed with tons of documentation, WP Survey Creator was closer to the kind of solution I was looking for — a native WordPress administration page to create the question sets, a default field to collect email addresses etc. Unfortunately its straight-forward simplicity, while refreshing, didn’t quite cover all the options I was looking for. This plugin only allows for questions that will be answered by a multi-choice 1-5 scale. This is a perfect system to study user feedback and ratings, but it would be crippling if any more detailed answers were required for your research. So, a good basic option for certain uses, but I moved on.

  • Survey Fly
    [UPDATE 05 Dec 2009 : The Survey Fly site linked above seems to be down for a while now. Thanks to David Esrati for the warning in the comments and also for pointing me towards Survey Fly’s spiritual successor: wp-surveys.]
    I wasn’t expecting much when I found yet another survey plugin, but I was pleasantly surprised by Survey Fly. It is a very feature complete plugin for its intended purpose. You can add a new survey in the admin area and specify the questions and possible answers for your survey. Responses are stored and statistics can be accessed as simple figures or exported to a CSV file for more complex study and analysis.

    Survey Fly supports almost any kind of HTML form based question you can imagine. This allows for a great amount of flexibility in the collected information. The only drawback (for some) will be that only one survey can be active at a time. Every time a new survey is added the older one becomes inactive and inaccessible. Other than that one shortcoming, and the lack of any ability to provide the survey participant with an immediate individual response based on their answers, this is as good as WordPress survey plugins get.

  • phpMyAdahas
    My aim is to find a WordPress integrated solution to this problem, but I am not completely averse to an external solution if it has many functional advantages in its favour. phpMyAdahas is a fully customizable online survey application using XHTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL. It seems to be very capable, supports multi-page questionnaires, various answering options, and it is even compliant with various web accessibility standards. If your looking for a solution to some heavy duty online surveying needs, this might be the right system for you.

  • POST data manipulation using php and CURL
    I would have loved to find a survey solution that would somehow auto-magically plug into my email newsletter or autoresponder system of choice. But, considering my disappointment with the free tools available in that area, I was not surprised to see that my ideal solution didn’t exist.

    This meant that I would need to create the connection myself if these integrated data submissions for both survey and signup had to be accomplished. After a bit of searching I found this nice article on manipulating form data that is passed to PHP scripts. Not being well versed in PHP at the moment, most of this goes over my head, but I do realise that the solutions I seek are explained in this page, if I only I take the time to understand and implement.

At the end of it all, I never did find my ideal online survey tool, although Survey Fly comes close. From my limited study of the available tools, my ideal solution would be something that had Survey Fly at its base, with the immediate evaluation capabilities of WbQuiz/WbExam, and a co-submission of data to a newsletter script using PHP and CURL as described in the last link. Perhaps I will eventually get around to implementing this Frankenstein monster of free online survey tools myself, at least for my own use, by putting together the same ingredients I mentioned. Sometimes if you want something very specific, you simply have to do it yourself. I am thankful that at least the building blocks exist, and now it is a simple matter of learning some more PHP.

Samir

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Comments
  1. Hi there, I’m glad you liked my article, the method described on that page is very basic and easy compared to the stuff I am doing with curl right now…

    I really like your idea for automating the results using curl, maybe you could leave a comment on my blog about what you would like to do, and I might provide the answer.

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Your post on PHP CURL was one of the most accessible that I found, and your blog in general is a great place for people like me, who can’t quite claim to be expert code hackers, but like to tinker anyway. Thank you for the excellent resource.

      I’d love to pick your brain on CURL issues and the more advanced techniques you mention (although, in all honesty, I still need to wrap my head around the basic stuff). I will definitely leave a more detailed comment on your blog soon about the functionality I’m trying to achieve. I’m sure your input in this would be very helpful to your other readers as well.

      Looking forward to figuring this out, and thanks for your help again.

  2. great inspiring blog. by all counts full marks – design, content, focus, pithy, sometimes humorous, Samir you are great. how about something on Spirituality and religion?

    1. Thank you, Sudhir, for that embarrassingly positive review of this blog. 🙂

      I’m very glad to know you enjoy it that much. I hope I can continue to provide valuable and entertaining content in the future. You mentioned spirituality and religion as possible topics for articles. They are topics that interest me greatly, but did you have anything specific in mind? Feel free to drop me an email through my contact page. Discussing past, present and future content with my readers is always a pleasure.

      Thanks,
      Samir

    1. Hi Jonny,
      Have you tried SurveyFly on a new install of WordPress yourself? The reason I ask is that I have it running and (seemingly) functioning fine on a blog currently running WP 2.6. As far as I remember, I didn’t do anything special to get it working when I upgraded WordPress from 2.3x.

      See the Happiness Survey on DevelopAndGrow.com, a site I created for one of my clients.

      Let me know how this goes. If there truly is a problem, maybe I can hunt for viable alternatives as you suggest.

      Best of luck,
      Samir

    1. Dariusz, thank you for sharing the tip. The Unit Command Climate Assessment and Survey System (that’s quite a mouthful!) appears to be a very comprehensive and complete online survey script. Great find, and one which I’ll be sure to explore in more detail.

      Feel free to return here and leave any comments and thoughts you have on this system as you use it more. A lot of people find this page when searching for online survey solutions and I’m sure your input would be very helpful to them.

      Thanks,
      Samir

  3. Hi. thank you very much for this post. I would like to ask if there is a way to create a search/survey system on WordPress as following:

    We make a question with a new post.
    User adds a comment and reply it.
    User cannot see the next post without replying/commenting the previous one.

    If you show me a way, I’ll be thankful.

    Dr.Engin

    1. Thanks Engin, for your comment and your question.

      It’s a very interesting question because I can’t immediately come up with a simple answer for it, and I love a puzzle. 🙂

      If the “posts” you talk about are just pieces of text you want to show the user one after the other with a question at the bottom, the WbExam plugin(mentioned in the article) does just that, with one question leading to the next. But it doesn’t store any of the data so that might be useless.

      The most common way to show people a sequence of articles is to use an email autoresponder. You could use the [GWA] AutoResponder plugin to set up a series of mails that get sent with links to individual posts/pages that are hidden on your site. But, in that case there is no mechanism to get people to comment to get access to the next link, as far as I know.

      Access restriction plugins like wp-group-restriction exist to allow different groups of people to access different content on your site. But, how do you automatically make a person move to a new(higher) group when they post a comment?

      As I said, this is a complicated issue. I will think about this some more and try to find a solution. In the meanwhile, the answers to some specific questions about what you need would help.

      – Is this some sort of course, in which you will prepare all the posts and materials in advance, and you only want people to see them in sequence?

      – Do the users accessing this need to be anonymous or registered/logged-in users on your site?

      Thanks,

      Samir

  4. Samir,

    Where can i get the buttons for facebook, twitter etc and feed that are on your blog. Can you also help me with where i can get the themes like what you have.

    1. Maryanne,

      Both the buttons and the theme on this site were designed by me specifically for this site. They aren’t downloadable anywhere. But, there are plenty of free sets of buttons and WordPress themes to choose from.

      For buttons just serch for “free social media icons” in any search engine and you will get many choices to pick from. And “free wordpress themes” should bring up a wide variety of sites to downlaod them from.

      If you’re looking for some more elaborate looking WordPress themes I suggest you look at the free ones created by the people over at SmashingMagazine.com . The ones they have available are quite interesting looking.

      I hope this helps, and if you have any more questions you can send me a direct message using the ‘Contact me’ link on top.

      Samir

    1. Thanks for the heads-up David. Much appreciated. I’ve added a note next to the Survey Fly description to warn future readers and point them in towards the new plugin. I should probably do a whole new study on this topic sometime soon.

  5. Thanks for your list of survey tools for WordPress. I’m only recently coming to WordPress so am still finding my way with it. Previously I’ve been using non-Wordpress surveying tools such as Survey Monkey, MachForm or LimeSurvey and wondered if you had come across integrations of these into WordPress by any chance?

    I really like LimeSurvey – so if I’m going to use it, I think I’ll just have to reference it as an external link perhaps.

  6. Hello everybody ! does anyone knows where I can find the best Plugin for Stock Market similar like in http://indianexpress.com.
    If you have any suggestions for that please shoot email at my ID . I badly need this plugin for wp.
    Thank you !

  7. I know this is old thread. But is there any new tools/SDK/plugin available? I have a blog using WordPress and and also have a website. Is there any platform/tools that I can use in both of my sites?


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