Customer Development and Research

Survey Software Face Off

Surveys might have their limitations when it comes to the finesse of psychological insights, yet they come handy when it comes to validating options, weighing factors or getting quick feedback from a large number of target customers.

Creating forms and questionnaires online

There are various online survey software products out there and I personally haven’t tried all of them. However, I still decided to quickly summarize my existing experiences to help you compare some options. Let’s summon the players!

Survey software pro-s and con-s

SURVEYMONKEY – The Sober Smarty




  • Powerful analytic engine. Great if you want to compare segments, filter answers by segments or change the layout of charts. It warms the heart of anyone with Stats affiliation. Easy Excel export option for the real nerds.
  • You can pause and restart surveys after launching them. This may come handy as you can still edit some parts of it (e.g. texts, instructions) after you’ve started collecting answers.
  • The collector link can be customized, so it’s not just a lame combo of numbers and letters.
  • Skip logic is available (this is important if you only want to pose certain questions to a specific segment of your respondents, based on their previous answer). However, it takes some time to master it and it is not very user-friendly (not like AYTM, see later).


  • The free version is very limited – 10 questions and 100 responses won’t take you far if you are thinking about doing some serious ‘non monkey business’.
  • On the other hand, 25 EUR/month might seem quite expensive at first glance when you think about price-sensitive startup newbies or freelancers.
  • The design itself is pretty lame. If you want to engage respondents with cool design and customized look and feel, this is not your piece of cake. It’s all pretty clean-cut, rationalistic and sober like a Catholic school girl. (You can only change the color of the header and the typo and add some basic images, but besides that, it’s just one flat white interface.)





  • It’s free, with unlimited questions and responses.
  • Question types are well explained and demonstrated with short videos. Icons make it even easier to understand the logics (e.g. Rabbit for Skip Logic, Smiley for Smiley Rating Question). This helps wannabe survey creators.
  • There are quite a few refreshing options and question types available, e.g. sliders, smiley and star ranking – some details that, for instance, SurveyMonkey is pretty lame at.
  • The survey actually looks pretty decent as you can customize the interface by adding a wallpaper-style background image and change colors.


  • Survey links can not be customized ( least I didn’t manage to figure out how to change it.)
  • Questions can only be answered one-by-one, one per each page. This seemed quite odd at first, even if it do feels much more natural to proceed without scrolling. However, it might make your survey feel slightly longer to some respondents, if you happen to have many questions.
  • Only available in major languages (incl. English of course). This relates to automated instructions, not to your own texts and questions.

I haven’t received any incentive from the company ;), but so far I like their software. Note that I am only in the process of launching my first survey with it, so I might change my opinion when it comes to analysis…





  • Their surveys look pretty awesome and engaging at first glance. The look and feel is close to those of landing pages and apps (thanks to the use of images, illustrations and automatic page loads). This way, the UX is more natural, up-to-date and smooth.
  • In a nutshell, what most people still consider a drag (i.e. filling out surveys for friends or for professional or commercial reasons) becomes more fun to do.


  • Upon a quick look, analytic functions e.g. advanced segmentation and filtering seemed limited, even in Pro. (In the free version, only basic reporting and Excel export are available.)
  • Limited options in the free version, e.g. no logic jump.
  • However, the charts themselves seem pretty promising in terms of design.
  • As I’ve mentioned in case of AYTM above, the one question per page mechanism might make your survey feel longer to some respondents, but the fun factor and ease of use makes up for it.

GOOGLE FORMS – The ‘Discount Airline’ of surveys

Link to Google Forms app



  • Smart and simple integration opportunities, e.g. with MailChimp or via Gmail. It makes it easier to collect or handle data.
  • A feast for nerdy Excel-lovers who love to play around with their own data. (I personally prefer making my life easier, but have great admiration for analysts.)
  • Obviously, it is also free to use.
  • Customized look and feel thanks to the canned templates.


  • If you are no Excel Ninja, you might be freaking out when you need to start creating charts and create your own stats from scratch. I think that in 2014 it is not shameful to look for solutions that save you time and are smarter than you when it comes to actual calculation. (Especially if you are a right-brain type of person and not a Maths champion.)

I haven’t tried other options like SurveyGizmo, SoGoSurvey and co., but maybe in a future round of the Survey Software Face Off. Until then, remember, a good survey is like going on a date; both parties have to feel themselves comfortable with it in order to get to second (data)base.

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