|Surfing for surveys|
|Tuesday, 11 January 2011|
Surgical trainees get national and local surveys asking for feedback on their training, while consultants get surveys from junior trainees looking for an easy presentation. It’s ‘survey overload’, but where do they come from and how easy are they to create? The truth is anybody can make one and they are very easy to create. Surveys can be designed for audit, research and patient satisfaction. The following are just two of the many available on the web.
Snap Survey Software starts from £995 for a single software license installed on your PC. For this, you get an in-perpetuity license and hence a one-off charge. To publish and run an online survey on Snap’s servers starts at 1.5 pence per response.
Snap Professional is the core desktop software for questionnaire design, publishing and the analysis of the web, email, paper or telephone surveys. The software will only run on a Windows machine but I was able to get the software running on an Apple Mac running Windows XP and Parallels Desktop 4.0. Snap is a bespoke tool and is desktop-based compared with the online Wufoo. The features are similar but more components of the questionnaire can be changed on Snap. There is also the ability to run multi-mode surveys. For example, the survey is set up to combine a web and paper questionnaire.
Multiple languages are also supported, making it easy to run multi-language surveys in all modes. At an additional cost the data entry from the paper surveys can be scanned directly into Snap. Finally, Snap has add-ons that can be purchased including professionally phrased health questions to create effective questionnaires. They also provide research and training services.
Technology makes the production of the survey simple. It’s important to remember that where surveys fail is in the construction of the questionnaire. Online forms will annoy the recipient if the questions are poorly worded or don’t allow the question to be answered, for example by only allowing one answer when a combination of answers are possible. It still relies on the recipient to fill in the form and not send it straight to trash! It’s also worth contacting the IT department of your hospital as they might already hold a license for the same or similar software.
Offers a free account for one user, three forms, three reports, 10 fields and 100 entries a month. Paid accounts cost between $14.95 to $199.95 a month for more users, forms, reports, fields and monthly entries.
Wufoo allows beautiful online surveys to be built via a web browser. It’s an example of a ‘WYSIWYG’ (What you see is what you get) software where the design and editing of the questionnaire appears very similar to the final version without the need for any programming experience.
A simple questionnaire will take a few minutes to create and be ready to collect data with an email invite. It’s possible to adjust the look of the survey, import your own logo to give a corporate look and all can be password-protected. They are also optimised for viewing on an Apple iDevice.
Data can be accessed through the admin interface or exported as an Excel spreadsheet. As well as the online questionnaires, there is the option to design online reports.
The data and admin interface are stored on Wufoo’s servers but you can copy and paste the code for those who want to have their survey integrated on a particular website.
Nicholas Lee, Oral and Maxillofacial Registrar, Pan Thames Rotation