Full-time and temporary researchers alike are blessed in this day and age with more possible online surveying tools than ever before. Between choices like SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics and a host of the other possibilities, there are more options than ever designed to help satisfy your research needs.
But just like anything else in life, all survey tools were not created on equal footing. Some excel more than others in certain categories, making each one appropriate for certain niches and use cases. To find out which option best suits your needs, consider the following pros, cons and comparisons:
SurveyMonkey has quickly emerged as a growing force in the online community. Part of this growth has to do with smart marketing and strategy, but an even bigger part is SurveyMonkey’s accessibility. Users can sign up for a free account and have a demo survey running in just a few minutes. When the time comes to send out the survey, you can quickly and easily disperse it, and then check on the results regularly, giving you practically everything you need at your fingertips to efficiently perform your research.
These user-friendly options often come at the expense of depth, though. SurveyMonkey lacks many of the features expected to craft professional-looking and accessible survey instruments. The analysis portion of the website can also make compiling survey results into infographics and the like moderately difficult, necessitating the use of an exported data sheet and an external spreadsheet tool like Excel.
Another negative is that the tools are currently largely hit-or-miss on mobile, with some users getting difficult-to-read formats or having to endure crashes. Expect mobile support to improve incrementally as SurveyMonkey attempts to address these issues.
Pros: Instantly accessible; easy to create and distribute surveys
Cons: Lacks professional-leaning features or depth; has inconsistent mobile support
Best For: Quick and casual surveying, internal surveys, audience quizzes and similar applications
Qualtrics is a more professional take on online survey tools, adding more robust features like deep analytics and longitudinal study panels in addition to features that check for HIPAA, FERPA and ADA compliance. Qualtrics also incorporates more robust vendor support, such as near-seamless integration with Salesforce apps.
Despite having more depth, Qualtrics is still easy to pick up and use at first, and the learning curve on the advanced features is never unreasonably step. Simply put, this is the tool better-suited for academic or professional research in order to abide by typical standards and expectations.
Pros: A wide range of deep tools; robust analytics reporting; integration with third-party tools like Salesforce; compliant with many standards
Cons: Not as simple-to-use all around as SurveyMonkey; more expensive for enterprise-level research (although you get features you may need)
Best For: Professional or academic research intended to be conducted carefully and by rigorous standards
To quickly summarize Google Forms: it is a free tool with limited functionality that can still satisfy many lightweight surveying needs. Nothing is locked behind a paywall, but there isn’t much to see either.
Pros: Absolutely free; quick to use and customizable; integrated with Google Docs cloud suite
Cons: Much more limited; back-end work like analytics must be done mostly manually; lacks needed features
Best For: Mock-up surveys, internal surveying, collaborative projects, basically anything that is not seen externally
No Matter the Tool, Successful Research Needs Constant Management
Regardless of which survey tool you choose, you are always going to need to keep careful track of where you are in your project. That is why we created a free research project management calculator to give you a professional-level management tool for any of your research.
For more information on how you can improve your research with or without tools check out what CFR can do.