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Surveys Back Up Again

A few days ago, I wrote about our surveys no longer being active. Since then, I received some suggestions for survey sites to check out. Thanks to everyone who responded. I did a lot of digging and searching, but in the end, I decided to program my own solution (like I needed another project, lol).

The survey sites I checked out were just too restrictive. They all had a "free" account option. I love when sites do that, because I can give their service a real test and then decide to upgrade later, when I need to. But some of those survey sites wouldn't let me create more than one survey at a time, so they were instantly out. Some wouldn't let more than 100 people respond. Well, our Batch Image Converter program has been downloaded over 50,000 times. So those survey sites were out. Some restricted what I feel are core features -- like a free-form text comment box at the bottom of the survey form. How am I supposed to get meaningful feedback with just a bunch of check and radio boxes? The whole point of running a survey (to me, at least) is to get feedback about the things I didn't anticipate. Free text entry is an absolute necessity.

The cost for removing these restrictions was pretty much the same: $20 to $25, per month.

I have no problem with sites charging for premium features. My problem is with the cost of the next step up from the free, ad-supported accounts. These sites almost universally go from major restrictions (1 to 5 surveys, 100 responses, etc) to no restrictions. But I don't necessarily need all of the restrictions removed. I could get by with maximums of 10 surveys and 50,000 or so responses. My problem is that the survey sites I found had no such middle ground.

So I grabbed source code from a dead PHP project, modified it, and built the surveys on my own site. Took me about five hours to get them working and looking good. Are they perfect? No, probably not. For one thing there's no admin section (yet), so I have to look at the raw data and figure out what it means. There's also no real spam control (that should be fun). I want the feedback, but I can't justify spending over $200 a year to run a handful of simple surveys.

My advice to all these survey companies: add a "Small Business" account option, with features somewhere between the Free and $20 accounts, and charge a much smaller monthly fee (in the $5 to $10 range).

Update Sep 27, 2015: Now that we're on a new host, I installed Lime Surveys and recreated the surveys. It was a little strange getting started, but once I got past that the surveys were actually pretty easy to customize and get running. Plus, the old way I talked about above was just way too cumbersome to maintain. Lime Surveys does a pretty good job there, and it was free.

Update Jun 8, 2022: The surveys are still there, sort of, but I'm in the process of rewriting all of our websites so the links will stop working soon (tm).