Using Polldaddy for quantative research

by Foolproof

I have recently been involved in a piece of research for MasterCard® PayPass™ to trial contactless wristbands at the Isle of Wight Festival 2011.

We collected 150 responses to our post-usage questionnaire using Polldaddy, a survey application loaded onto iPads. This tool made setup and data gathering more efficient than pen and paper and it’s more fun too, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Pros

  • Creating a survey with Polldaddy is quick and straightforward. You select a theme from a wide range (or build your own), drag-and-drop the type of questions you want to ask and edit them. You can also customise the text and language of the same survey to run it in different countries/languages
  • Capturing data is available on multiple devices and does not need Internet connection. While you can send a traditional link to your survey, you can also use a dedicated iPhone/iPad app. Once you’ve loaded the survey on to the app, you can run it offline as many times as needed and then sync the results to your online account. This means that several researchers can collect responses in the field and simultaneously
  • Reporting is available at any time and in a variety of ways, from automatically-generated graphs to spreadsheets. This means that you can monitor your research as you go along as well as export your data for analysis as soon as you finish collecting it
  • Recruiting in the field can be easier, depending on your recruitment process and the context in which you are carrying out your research, it might just help to walk around with an iPad in your hands. People tend to avoid eye-contact with the researcher holding the clipboard in the street - but we found that they do get curious about what you’re doing if you approach them holding a shiny new piece of technology!

Cons

  • Rating-type questions are not available; you can work around this issue by using a matrix but you will have to be careful about how you input the answers and analyse the data
  • Survey update on the app is unreliable at times. If you’ve edited your survey after loading the original version on the app, check twice that the update has gone successfully before starting to collect responses
  • Copy of answer options can be partially hidden on a mobile device screen if it is longer than one line
  • Checking the total quota is unavailable on the app. This means that you will have to plan ahead how you are going to count your survey responses during research, e.g. you will have to agree with your researchers to sync results every hour and then log into your online account to view the quota
  • Survey steps are not visible on the app. This can make your respondents impatient and potentially lead to drop-outs if they are filling in the survey themselves
  • Restrictions to taking a survey are limited to one/multiple response per machine, an option to allow one response per email address is necessary
  • Privacy can be a concern. There’s no way to keep respondents from seeing others’ responses on the app
  • Finally, just something to be aware of when using mobile devices, screen glare can affect readability, so think carefully about where your respondents will fill in the survey, especially if it’s a sunny day

What do you think?