The 12 Best Free and Open Source Survey Tools to Power Your Research

April 9, 2018 Tirena Dingeldein

Update 4/9/2018: This article was updated to add six new free survey software options.

What if I told you there was a way to see into the minds of your current small business clients and predict their future buying habits?

That is the power of a survey.

With a well-designed survey, you can collect insight on what your clients think of your new product, project what they’ll buy in the future based on what they’ve bought in the past, and measure your influence on an individual’s actions after they come in contact with your brand.

Where do you start when you want to build a survey?

With a survey building tool, of course. Never used one before? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

The best free survey tools to power your research

Capterra’s directory breaks down the top 20 most popular survey software options out there, but we’re going to narrow our focus a bit. I’ve collected 12 of the top free survey tools for your burgeoning survey needs in one easy-to-use, bookmarkable list.

To be included on this list, survey tools had to be free or open source for at least one user ad infinitum (no free trials allowed) and offer a survey building interface feature, email distribution, and more than one question type. Survey tools are listed alphabetically; a summary chart is provided at the bottom of this post.

Twelve free and open source survey tools

1. Google Forms

Screenshot of Google Form survey via Google

Screenshot of Google Form survey (via Google)

If you have a Google account, you already have access to a decent survey tool. For a quick poll or a high level overview, Google Forms is a simple and easy solution.

Google Forms can be private or public, and sync with Google Sheets to automatically collect responses, letting you dig into your survey data all on your own rather than paying another company to collect and crunch the data for you.

This is a good option if you’re asking basic questions and only need to use multiple choice, multi-select, and open-answer formats. The answer options can be randomized, making your results more reliable by combating any selection bias that might be hidden in the answer order. The lack of page or question logic, however, makes it harder to ask follow-up questions.

2. Kwik Surveys

Survey building tool screenshot via Kwik Surveys

Survey building tool screenshot (via Kwik Surveys)

Kwik Surveys is a free option that is ad-supported. You can’t customize the templates, but the tool has 30+ to choose from, some of which are nothing short of adorable (you can have a floral theme, or play host to an encouraging group of penguins in your top margin). A handful of the simpler designs are ready to embed on your website, making it even easier for you to collect responses.

The dashboard is nearly effortless to navigate, and you build your survey with a simple drag-and-drop editor. The types of questions you can ask are a bit limited; it doesn’t offer an open answer option. To be honest: open-ended questions have no business in a successful survey anyway, so it’s no great loss.

Kwik Surveys lets you fully export your results in multiple file types, meaning you can analyze your results in Excel or statistics software of choice. Why does this matter? Instead of just seeing your overall results, you can manipulate the data and get useful insights by testing for significance or putting related questions together in crosstabs. Kwik Surveys will clear your data after six months, so exporting is key if you want to keep a record of the surveys you’ve already run.

3. LimeSurvey

Survey building tool screenshot via LimeSurvey

Survey building tool screenshot (via LimeSurvey)

LimeSurvey is an open source download, meaning it offers several benefits over a free/freemium option. While some tools charge a fee for phone or email support, LimeSurvey has a whole network of developers and users who can help you out, as well as an in-depth manual to help you work through any hiccups.

The collaborative nature of this open source system means you can ask your survey in more than 80 languages. You can have unlimited administrators, but only 25 responses per month across your surveys.

From their example surveys, it’s clear that LimeSurvey is a no-fuss option. They do offer add-ons allowing additional templates and question types. If you have the coding know-how or an IT team to work on encountered issues, LimeSurvey puts most of the functionality of a paid tool within reach.

4. PollDaddy

Survey building tool screenshot via PollDaddy

Survey building tool screenshot (via PollDaddy)

PollDaddy lets you brand your surveys by importing a logo—a feature that is often only available with a paid subscription. You need to have a WordPress account to login, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use their service if you don’t have a blog or use a different platform to build/host your website.

If you do use WordPress, though, it’s easy to embed your survey on your website or serve your survey as a pop-up. Another benefit is offline data collection. By downloading the PollDaddy app to your iOS mobile device or tablet, you can collect responses on a street corner, at the park, or at a tradeshow or conference, wherever your ideal audience is.

PollDaddy doesn’t allow data exporting, meaning you can only see responses in the aggregate. This view is sufficient if you’re just looking for the big picture, or aren’t confident in your analytical skills. The type of survey you need to run often determines whether you need data exporting functionality or not, so be sure to think through your survey plan in advance.

5. Responster

Survey building tool homepage screenshot via Responster

Survey building tool homepage screenshot (via Responster)

If you’re planning on surveying people who use mobile devices, Responster is your tool.

Its page-by-page question design is responsive to screen size, and means that respondents won’t cramp their thumbs trying to scroll down a page of questions or click on tiny buttons on their mobile screen.

The design is sleek and professional; you can add your logo to the start page, brand buttons with company colors, and even upload your own background image.

Responster’s build page and dashboard are so simplistic that entering questions can feel a bit clunky, but there’s no arguing that your respondents will be served a seamless user experience.

The free version is somewhat limited in question format, but comes with question logic, which helps guide respondents down a customized path. In addition to a built-in chart creation tool, you can export your data as an Excel file to gain full control over how you display your final results.

6. SurveyGizmo

Survey creation tool screenshot via SurveyGizmo

Survey creation tool screenshot (via SurveyGizmo)

SurveyGizmo is a flexible freemium option for surveys. The free version has ~25 question types, letting you write a survey that caters to specific needs. If you need even more question types, you can bump up to the next paid level whenever you need to, and drop back down when you don’t ($22/month—the lowest paid level—gets you additional branding and logic options).

You can have as many surveys as you want running at one time, with no response limit. SurveyGizmo also does a great job of pulling an overall report. It will autopopulate averages and standard deviations for each question, while still letting you download your responses for a deeper dive. The data is never removed from your account, so you can go back and review old surveys as needed.

SurveyGizmo is a great option if you’re looking to go just beyond a basic survey, letting you ask more layered and complicated questions, and ultimately obtain more insightful results.

7. Survs

Survey creation tool screenshot via Survs
Survey creation tool screenshot (via Survs)

Survs is a free survey tool that lets you create an unlimited number of ten-question surveys with a cap of 200 responses per survey.

The survey building interface walks you through adding your questions, and is reminiscent of Windows 2000 in its simplicity. You can’t add images or logic to your questions with the free version, but you can mandate answers and give respondents the option of filling out an “other” category for each question. You can also run Likert scale survey questions with Survs.

Survs is a basic survey option for businesses looking to gather a lot of responses from short surveys (which—let’s be honest—is the ideal survey construction anyway). Survs also provides a customized report-building function for its free accounts.

8. SurveyLegend

Survey building tool screenshot via SurveyLegend

Survey building tool screenshot (via SurveyLegend)

Snazzy survey tool SurveyLegend’s main point of attraction is its quick preview function, which lets you view your survey on mobile screen dimensions on the right of the dashboard. Cool, and super useful.

SurveyLegend provides basic live analytics and access to individual responses as they are recorded. You’ll see a geographical representation of respondents, gaining valuable targeting information for your audience.

SurveyLegend walks you through each step of the survey creation process, and offers right-to-left language format functionality to let you input surveys in Arabic and Hebrew.

It’s worth noting that while your SurveyLegend survey will likely be fairly easy to make, it will have a “Proudly made with SurveyLegend” footer at the end of your survey. If branding is a problem, you’ll want to upgrade to the paid option.

9. SurveyMonkey

Question creation tool screenshot via SurveyMonkey
Question creation tool screenshot (via SurveyMonkey)

SurveyMonkey is one of the heavy hitters of the survey-making world, and there’s a reason: its user interface is smooth. If you don’t have access to a distribution list for your survey, you can buy responses from SurveyMonkey.

The cons to using SurveyMonkey? The upgrades you’ll want to take advantage of the tool’s full functionality are all paid. Want logic? You’ll need to upgrade. Want branding? You’ll need to upgrade.

While this isn’t uncommon among survey tools, SurveyMonkey is one of the highest costing paid options on this list, and limits its free option to a bare-bones instance that’s (almost) unusable.

But, if you want an option that provides an easy user interface for basic surveys, SurveyMonkey is a great choice with the potential to grow with you as your company increases in size and capability (and budget). SurveyMonkey is a good tool for small businesses who expect to grow their survey distribution in the coming years.

10. SurveyPlanet

Question creation tool screenshot from survey builder via SurveyPlanet

Question creation tool screenshot from survey builder (via SurveyPlanet)

SurveyPlanet is a great option if you don’t want to take the time to write your own survey. With the templates provided by this tool, you can hyper-target your survey all the way down to eliciting customer feedback from gym or fitness centers. You can also combine question types from several segments to create a truly one-of-a-kind survey.

You’ll need to buy the pro version of SurveyPlanet if you want question branching, but they make up for it in the free version by offering several simple themes and the ability to share your survey across multiple channels.

SurveyPlanet also offers anonymous survey functionality, letting you collect de-identified or sensitive data from respondents who’d be hesitant to provide it otherwise.

SurveyPlanet is a simple tool that provides unlimited surveys, questions, and responses, but doesn’t allow data exporting.

11. Typeform

Survey creation tool screenshot via Typeform

Survey creation tool screenshot (via Typeform)

Typeform lets you create surveys using conversational data collection methods evocative of a real-life interviewer. Typeform will feed your survey-taker a question and, based on their response, feed them one of several follow-up questions that ensure a natural progression, avoiding the “just check the next box” feeling that accompanies so many surveys.

Typeform has a simple user interface that offers drag-and-drop creation and provides options ranging from customizable start screens to room for your legal disclaimers.

If you’re looking for the next generation of survey tools but still want a freemium option, Typeform is for you. None of the other free options on this list provide a conversational interface that Gartner believes will be popular in the future, as well as robust data collection tools (full research available to Gartner clients).

12. Zoho Survey

Survey building tool screenshot via Zoho Survey

Survey building tool screenshot (via Zoho Survey)

Chances are if you’re in marketing you’ve heard of Zoho, a CRM tool that boasts scalability and user-friendliness. While Zoho Survey works seamlessly with Zoho CRM, it will work on its own as a standalone free survey tool.

Zoho Survey provides several question types and a nifty autofill option for known respondents. It also gives you 50+ prebuilt survey templates and unlimited 15-question surveys with Zoho branding.

Zoho’s survey tool isn’t quote as intuitive as others, but it’s still highly functional. It might take a few tries to get your questions set up the way you want them, so factor in a little extra time when you’re setting up your surveys.

If you have Zoho’s CRM already and want a survey tool that can integrate with all of Zoho’s apps at no charge, Zoho Survey is your answer. This tool readily integrates with Google Docs and Zoho SalesIQ as well.

A handy survey tool summary chart

Survey building tool screenshot via Zoho Survey

There are even more free survey tools available out there

While it may feel like this list approaches comprehensive, we’ve barely scratched the surface! What other great survey tools that offer a free version should be on this list? Leave a comment below!

Want to learn more about surveys? Check out these articles:

The post The 12 Best Free and Open Source Survey Tools to Power Your Research appeared first on Capterra Blog.

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