Conducting and analyzing surveys can be difficult and frustrating. Fortunately, survey software can help make research and analysis easier.  

Indeed, modern software makes creating a survey easier than ever, with such features as drag-and-drop tools and multiple stock question types for designing surveys, as well as embedded analysis tools that can filter results by specific responses and add graphics to reports.

According to the 2014 Survey Software Product Comparisons from the TopTenREVIEWS website, “top survey software should be powerful enough to produce relevant and reliable results, but easy enough for novice surveyors and computer users to understand and use.”

Top tool criteria

Here are the criteria TopTenREVIEWS used for its 2014 rankings.

Survey creation 

  • Allow users to customize the look of the survey and set restrictions associated with it.
  • Include respondent restrictions, such as preventing individuals from taking an online survey more than once. 

Survey analysis

  • Include analytical and statistical tools; top programs include sophisticated statistical options, such as tools to compare data from varied survey questions and create corresponding data tables.
  • Be compatible with a word processor or text and data applications to export analysis reports. 

Survey administration

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  • Provide various options and methods for administering surveys--internet, paper printouts, face-to-face interviews, and email. 

Help and support

  • Offer tutorials on survey creation.
  • Include a manual or user guide, as well as FAQs.
  • Have access to responsive and knowledgeable customer representatives via telephone and email. 

2014 rankings

The top survey software tools on the market include: 

  1. The Survey System; http://surveysystem.com
  2. KeyPoint; http://www.speedwell.co.uk/page/12/keypoint.htm
  3. FluidSurvey; http://fluidsurveys.com
  4. Snap Surveys; http://www.snapsurveys.com
  5. StatPac; http://www.statpac.com
  6. SurveyGold; http://www.surveygoldsolutions.com
  7. SurveyMonkey; http://www.surveymonkey.com
  8. Survey Crafter Professional; http://www.surveycrafter.com
  9. Survey Gizmo; http://www.surveygizmo.com
  10. SurveyPro; http://apian.com/software/surveypro

Purchasing checklist

You can use the following checklist from the Infoline, “Using Electronic Surveys,” to evaluate the various development packages and vendors that are on the market.

Tool functionality

  •  Does it have a save and resume feature?
  •  Does it enable users to scroll through questions?
  •  Does it include a back button?
  •  Does it use a PIN number to limit access to preferred respondents in the sample?
  •  Does it enable users to move on to the next question without answering the previous one?
  •  Does it support a matrix question format?
  •  Does it support the use of color?
  •  Does it support translation into languages other than English, if needed?
  •  Does it support a double banking (two-column) display?
  •  If Web based, does it support the major Internet browsers Internet Explorer and Netscape?
  •  Does it provide sufficient space to accept text answers to open-ended questions?
  •  Does it support graphics and animation?
  •  Is the interface, or navigation, intuitive and easy to use?
  •  Is online help available?

Vendor

  • Does the cost fit your budget?
  • Is the vendor willing to prototype a print survey in  electronic format?
  • Does the vendor have the ability to customize question formats?
  • Does the vendor provide phone and email support?
  • Does the vendor have the ability to export data in the desired format?
  • Does the vendor have the ability to modify the survey in real time, if necessary?
  • Will the vendor maintain the data for a specified period of time?
  • Does the vendor have a good reputation and references?

Tool

  • Does it provide a sufficient level of security?
  • Does it support various reporting formats and options, for example, tables and graphics?
  • Does it provide continuous response updates while the survey is online?
  • Does it support survey translation? 
TopTenREVIEWS provides comprehensive reviews and a side-by-side comparison to help you make an informed decision on which survey software is right for you. Check out the 2014 rankings at http://survey-software-review.toptenreviews.com.