Free Online Survey Tools

online surveys represented by mouse connected to a survey tick box

As with so much on the web these days several companies provide free online survey tools as a 'land grab' strategy to attract users. This is a positive development which allows consumers to try out various products before committing to a particular one, and allows small scale users to use it indefinitely for free. In return, the companies get free publicity when people publish surveys using these free online survey tools.

Of course there are limitations to the free accounts, and we will examine and compare these in the reviews below. There are usually two ways companies limit creating online surveys using the free versions: by number of surveys/questions or number of responses. There are usually advanced features available in paid versions.

Another benefit the new web companies and competitive environment have brought to using survey software is the lack of set up fees, contract or termination fees, meaning that as and when you need to run bigger surveys you are still not tied in and can downgrade as easily as you upgraded. This means you can have small, permanently open or regularly changing online surveys running then upgrade to run a bigger survey for a month, with a second month to analyse the results. With upgrade costs from as little as $15 per month (USD) among the products we have reviewed so far, this means you could run an unlimited survey for just $30 (c.£17/€20). That's not bad when you consider conducting major surveys even ten years ago (manually) cost at least five or six figures in market research company fees.

Here is a selection of providers of free online survey tools for you to use in your research programmes:

QuestionPro
QuestionPro is a professional and comprehensive tool for creating online surveys, contributing to its parent company's status as one of the fastest growing companies in the USA, with clients including Microsoft and Motorola. It has a surprising amount available in the free version, including not one but three tools: online surveys, micropolls and Ideascale, a feedback collection and voting platform. It even has neat extra gadgets like Google Analytics and Twitter/blog integration. It has a simple wizard approach to creating and editing your surveys with a large number of question types available.

The free version allows an unlimited number of responses, making it ideal for surveys which are small in scope but large in audience - instead it limited by number of surveys (2) and questions per survey (10). To move to unlimited surveys and questions cost $15 per month, making it the cheapest of the products reviewed here. Interestingly, it also has a social entrepreneurship dimension which amongst other things means giving 1% of gross revenue to various charitable causes. It also offers free licences for non-profits for the professional licence ($15 a month) in return for displaying "powered by" links on your homepage.

Click here to create a free QuestionPro account.

Survey Gizmo
An equally comprehensive package with a fresh, contemporary look and feel which immediately attracts the eye and the imagination. While the attractive design draws you in, it more than delivers on functionality, even on the free version. We particularly liked the dashboard which greets you on login after you've created a survey, with an instant view of the current number of surveys completed and in progress with a map, daily response rate and satisfaction chart. They have a comprehensive training library, including videos, and you can have the starter course delivered by email over 7 days. It offers a 25-50% discount for non-profits, which has attracted the likes of the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox browser), Harvard and the American Psychological Association as customers.

This time the restiction on the free version comes with the number of responses (250) - you can have unlimited surveys and questions. There are various upgrade options starting at $19 a month for up to 1,000 responses. We loved the way the survey creation system works, providing visual examples all the way and making it clear what is happening. There are inevitably more options for the paid versions but we found plenty we could use on the free version, along with a relatively generous response limit.

Click here for features and pricing and to set up a free account with Survey Gizmo.

Survey Monkey
If you are after something a bit different and quirky without compromising on functionality, Survey Monkey may be the one for you. The name alone gives away its cheeky attitude and it certainly delivers on functionality with a neat survey creation and editing system and various ways of collecting responses including generating code to produce a small pop-up window for your website ("We are conducting a survey..."). They make a big thing of accessibility, being the preferred choice for a number of related associations and fully DDA (Disability Discrimitation Act) compliant. All this, and the value of the professional version makes it popular with a number of organisations including Campbells Soup and Surrey County Council (UK).

As with Survey Gizmo, the restriction on the free version is with resonses - this time 100 - but also with questions - 10. It has a simple upgrade pricing structure, with $19.95 a month for 1000 responses (you can go over for $0.05 per response) or $200 for an unlimited annual licence, making it one of the best value products around for complete derestriction in creating online surveys.

Click here to visit Survey Monkey and set up a free account.

Comparison chart - free online survey tools

Features included in free version
Question Pro
Survey Gizmo
Survey Monkey
Number of surveys included
2
Unlimited
Unlimited
Number of questions included
10
Unlimited
10
Number of responses included
Unlimited
250
100
Email survey link inluded?
Yes
No
Yes
Upgrade cost
from $15 to $99 per month
from $19 to $599 per month
$19.95 per month / $200 per year

So which is the best of the free online survey tools?

Having spent a fair amount of time on each product we can honestly say we like and could recommend them all - that is why they are on this list. They all have very good data collection and reporting tools, even on the free versions, and are all easy to use. So choosing one above the rest is difficult:

  • QuestionPro is a serious, established player and if you need unlimited responses and can live with 2 surveys with 10 questions each, this is a good choice - it also has the feedback tool which could be used for a major part of your research; at $15 a month it is also the cheapest upgrade option for unlimited surveys and questions
  • We liked the different approach of Survey Monkey, and while we couldn't recommend it as the best free online survey tool because of its questions and responses limitation, the $200 annual upgrade is good value if you are going to be running lots of surveys
  • Survey Gizmo is well designed, blissfully easy to find your way around and feels the most rounded of the three, partly because it also has the most generous number of responses for the free version, combined with unlimited surveys and questions

For its roundedness, attractive and simple navigation and best free package, we would choose Survey Gizmo as the best of the free online survey tools. Think also, though, about the upgrade options, as clearly if you invest time in one and you do find yourself in need of a bigger scale solution, you don't want to be switching and creating new surveys (though some do offer uploads from MS Word). That said, we would probably also choose Survey Gizmo as the best upgrade option as well because of that ease of use and attractive design which would make ploughing through large amounts of data easier on the eye. Having spent many an hour in Excel, this makes a welcome change!

We will be conducting further reviews in future to ensure you are well informed as to the best free online survey tools, so do bookmark this page and check back!


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