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Jan
21

Reviewing 12 Free Web Poll & Survey Services, Plus Working Examples

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Blogs by design are meant to be dynamic and highly interactive. The author posts stories on a regular basis and the content of these posts could vary across a variety of topics. The visitor to that blog has the opportunity to add their own content to the site in the way of comments about what the author has written. Soon a conversation begins between the author and the readers.

One easy way to get the conversation started is with the use of a poll. Polls provide a way for a visitor to interact with the site without actually leaving a detailed comment. Visitors can also get a sense of how your community of readers feels about a particular topic by viewing the results of the poll.

As an author, polls provide a “sticky sauce” to help keep visitors on the site reading and interacting with your content. By featuring a “Poll of the Month”, your readers will return to see what the new poll is and to read about the results of the previous poll.

Choosing a Free Poll
I love free stuff! There are quite a few free poll services out there, but sometimes free comes at a price. Some of the free services may cost you your visitors as they are sent from your site to the free poll host site to vote or view the voting results. Some free poll services cost you the participation of your visitors when they find out they have to register on the free poll hosting site just to cast their vote or view the results. Other free hosting sites cost you in the way of a limited toolset to customize the poll so that blends in with the rest of your site.

Goals of the Review
I took some time to search out a number of free poll sites to find one that would:
1. Be easy to use, even if you have limited web design skills.
2. Allow options to customize the final look and feel of the poll with styles and colors to match your site.
3. Polls that allow visitors to vote and view the results without leaving your site.

On With the Show…
In no particular order, here are the 12 popular free poll services that I examined. The reviews include working examples so you can take ‘em for a spin.

1. Blog Flux
http://polls.blogflux.com

Blog Flux requires that you create an account on their site before you have access to the tools to create a poll. Once your account is created, you create the poll with up to five options. You then have a choice of customizing the look of the poll with several choices that oddly doesn’t include the type of font to be used in the poll. After the visitor clicks on the add my vote link, the results will appear in place of the poll questions on your site. The poll includes a link back to the Blog Flux site. A unique feature to the Blog Flux polls is that the voting results are mapped on Google maps, however the feature didn’t work for me. The site has other tools to enhance your blog such as a button or chicklet creator, a link logger, and a pagerank checker to name a few.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page?
Easy of use: 8 out of 10
Customization options: 6 out of 10

2. Blogpoll
www.blogpoll.com

Begin creating a poll as soon as you hit this site that focuses on only one thing – creating blog polls. You have a choice of up to 20 options or answers to your poll question. You can click on the refresh button as you create your poll to see what the final poll and results will look like. Customize the look and function of the poll with a variety of options including advanced options that enable you to prevent multiple votes with a cookie or by using the visitor’s IP address. The downside to polls created with this site is that the results page is populated with at least three banks of Google Adsense ads. Your visitor will automatically be redirected to the results page on the blogpoll.com site when they click on the button.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? Yes, three banks of Adsense ads
Easy to use: 8 out of 10
Customization Options: 8 out of 10

3. Majik Widget
http://www.majikwidget.com/mw/index.php


To create various widgets for your blog, you’ll have to pay for them out of an account of “widget credits”. Upon registration, you’ll receive a balance of 25 credits, each poll costs one credit, so you’ll be able to create 25 different polls until you’ll need to buy more credits. Credits are available in blocks of either 500 or 1000 credits. 500 credits will set you back $25.00 and 1000 credits will cost you $50.00.

The Majik Widget website carries the endorsement of Guy Kawasaki and he recently used a Majik Widget poll in a recent post on his blog titled, “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn.”

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 5 out of 10
Customization Options: 5 out of 10

4. Poll Daddy
www.polldaddy.com

Ok first of all, the logo for this site kinda gives me the creeps. If someone walks by as you are busily configuring your poll, I’m sure they may assume you’re on a well…questionable site. Now that little disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll move on.

Poll Daddy came up out of public beta on October 31st, so it’s a fairly new site. The polls you create on this site blow away the simple HTML polls created on the other free poll sites. After you sign up for a free account, you can create a poll and customize it to fit into your site design or choose one of 14 “skins”. Some of these styles or skins have been designed with the blogging community in mind. The narrow styles will easily squeeze into the sidebar of most blog themes.

After the poll has been created you can view the results via the poll posted on your page, or you can see all the results of multiple polls from their site after you log in. The poll can be “reset” on this administration page so that the previous poll results go back to zero. Poll Daddy provides specific instructions on how to embed the HTML code into WordPress, Typepad, and Blogger. Results from the poll can even be accessed via an RSS reader made possible by an RSS feed generated from your poll.

If you have a Widgetbox (http://www.widgetbox.com) account, the Poll Daddy poll can be incorporated into a Widget for your blog.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 9 out of 10
Customization Options: 10 out of 10

5. Opinion Republic
www.opinionrepublic.com

Polls created on Opinion Republic are not the choose one of the choices type of polls that the other sites produce. It’s an open-ended poll where visitors can type in their own responses.

It was a little difficult to use, and the poll that the site produces was not customizable. The polls can be accessed via an administration page. Visitors voting and looking at the results will be sent to the opinionrepublic.com site in a new browser window.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? Yes
Easy to use? 4 out of 10
Customization Options: 1 out of 10

6. Cool Web Toys
www.coolwebtoys.com

After you register for a free account at Cool Web Toys, you can construct one of three “Cool Web Toys”. Choose from a web poll, an embedded web shat client, or a “CoolWebOfTheDay”. The CoolWebOfTheDay can include content such as word of the day, quote of the day, or any of the other 10 fill in the blank of the day content.

As far as poll creation goes, it’s fairly straightforward with average customization availability. When I copied and pasted the HTML code the published content included a footer bar placed way below the poll. I chose to strip out the HTML code for the footer and the results appear here. As you can see, the branding from Cool Web Toys is missing, makes for a cleaner poll, but Cool Web Toys loses the link back and the brand exposure.

Results are shown quickly and the visitor will not be redirected from your site unless they click on the link labeled, “More Info” after the results are shown. If they click on that link a new browser window opens up and they will be on the Cool Web Toys site with a bank of Adsense ads.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 5 out of 10
Customization Options: 5 out of 10

7. Myepoll.com
www.myepoll.com

Polls created at this site can not be embedded into your blog or page. Once visitors click to their site with Adsense ads, they’ll have to enter their e-mail address to vote. Voting results are not visible to the voter or the curious visitor who wants to take a peek at the current results.

With so many better choices, I don’t know why anyone would consider using this site.

If you’re still curious, you can see the poll at the following link:
http://tinyurl.com/27jgw4

Can voters view results? No
Ads on voting page? Yes
Voters redirected offsite? Yes
Easy to use? 4 out of 10
Customization Options: 0 out of 10

8. Pollcode.com

www.pollcode.com

Which Season is Your Favorite?
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
  
pollcode.com free polls

No sign up is needed to use this poll creation site. Add your question and answers, tweak some of the colors, and copy and paste the code. It’s easy to use and the preview of your poll is shown on the page as you make changes.

Downside with this one is that when a visitor places their vote, two windows open up. One with a pop under ad and the other opens the pollcode site with the results along with an Adsense ad.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? Yes and a Pop-Under Ad as well
Voters redirected offsite? Yes
Easy to use? 8 out of 10
Customization Options: 4 out of 10

9. Pollhost.com
www.pollhost.com

Which Season is Your Favorite?
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

No sign up is needed, but advanced features are available to users who have registered for a free account. Creation is pretty straightforward. Create the questions and the possible answers on the first page. You then are sent to a page where you have the ability to change the voting box type, the font type and color, background color, and the color of the result bars.

The resulting HTML code can be copied and pasted on to your page. Visitors clicking on Vote or View (view the results) will be taken to the pollhost.com site in a new browser window. The results are accompanied by a bank of Adsense ads.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? Yes
Voters redirected offsite? Yes
Easy to use? 8 out of 10
Customization Options: 4 out of 10

10. Vizu.com

www.vizu.com

Unlike all the other sites, Polls generated by Vizu.com are delivered via a Flash widget rather than a snippet of JavaScript or HTML code. This comes in handy if you are planning on using a poll on a site that doesn’t allow JavaScript such as MySpace.

You’ll need to create a free account to build the code for your poll. Another feature that sets polls generated from this site apart from all the rest is that you can add images to the answers (as shown in the example), in the question, or both. Other customizations are similar to the ones found on some of the other feature-rich sites.

On a side-note, Vizu.com also offers a way to monetize your site by showing polls created by others. Site owners set the minimum CPM (cost-per-thousand) based on page impressions. Polls are shown in Poll Zones that the site owner customizes on the Vizu.com site much the same way as a poll. For further details, you can view the Vizu Answers section of the site at http://answers.vizu.com/index.htm.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 7 out of 10
Customization Options: 7 out of 10

11. dpolls.com
www.dpolls.com

Create polls and vote for free. dPolls.com

Dpolls.com is another site that provides both a free poll generating service as well as a community built around the polls created by registered users. A new poll can be made in five steps; unfortunately, none of the steps allow much in the way of customization. The default background shown behind the poll questions is based on what category your poll would best match the content of your poll. For this example, I chose the Religion Category with the Christianity subcategory.

The length of open voting for the poll has to be defined at dPolls.com. Either by time, with a maximum of six months, or by the number of votes cast. When the poll has reached the expiration period, the word “Closed” is shown as a watermark on the poll and voting is disabled. The final voting results can also be sent to the site owner via e-mail.

Visitors who wish to see the votes, without casting a vote, must click on the icon in the lower right hand corner of the poll window. This feature is obviously hidden to your visitors, unless they just happen to hover the mouse over the icon and then a help tip pops up with the text “Show poll results.”

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 3 out of 10
Customization Options: 1 out of 10

12. Quimble.com

www.quimble.com

Creating a poll is just a two step process at Quimble.com. After you are registered as a user, log-in and choose your question and create the possible answers. The trade off with a two step process is the fact that there is no customization of the end product on their site. If you’re good with CSS, you can tweak the HTML and CSS code to make it blend into your site.

Visitors who choose to click on the “Discuss this poll at Quimble.com” link will be taken to their site, where they will need to register as a user before they are allowed to leave a comment about the poll.

Can voters view results? Yes
Ads on results page? No
Voters redirected offsite? No
Easy to use? 8 out of 10
Customization Options: 1 out of 10

As you can see, there are many choices for poll creation for your blog, but if I had to choose one, it would be Polldaddy.com for ease of use, customization options, and the variety of ways that you can deliver the poll to your audience.

Polls are quick and easy way to jumpstart the discussion on your blog, give them a try.

About the writer: Mark Anderson has over 12 years in the sales and marketing field and has spent the last several years focusing on projects involving web design, email marketing, and graphic design. He’s part of the Visual Arts team at Evangelical Free Church of Naperville in Naperville IL. You can drop him a line at churchmarketing@yahoo.com.

 
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Comments

  1. AhmedF says:

    Hi hi – I’m from Blog Flux.

    Great writeup – we are working on a redesign of Blog Flux right now. One thing we will be sure to overhaul is our poll, allowing you to make it much better looking (and a much better ‘default’ view).

    Cheers :)

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