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The 6 Best Free and Open Source Survey Tools to Power Your Research

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My life has revolved around surveys for seven years.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. But I love surveys. I take them. I run them. I chase people down the street and make them answer my questions (Only that one time, but you’re welcome, group members from that class project we did three years ago). Surveys are a great way to make educated strategy decisions and ultimately grow your business.

Want to know who your target customer base is? BAM, run a survey. Want to know how to better serve your current customers? BAM, run a survey. Want to start measuring your Net Promoter Score? BAM…you get the idea.

And thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of survey tools out there to make your survey dreams a reality.

survey tools

The best news? A bunch of them are free.

We’ve already told you a bit about the most popular survey software options out there, but below I’ve gone through some of the top free survey tools for your burgeoning survey needs (alphabetically below).

Google Forms

free survey - google form

If you have a Google account, you already have access to a decent survey tool. Google Forms can be private or public, and will sync with Google Sheets to automatically collect responses, which allows you to dig into the numbers on your own.

This is a good option if the questions you ask are basic, and you only plan to use multiple choice, multi-select, and open-answer formats. The answer options can be randomized, which makes your results more reliable (this combats any selection bias that might be hidden in the answer order), but the lack of page or question logic makes it harder to ask follow-up questions. For a quick poll, or a high level overview, it’s a simple and easy solution.

KwikSurveys

free survey - kwiksurveys2

KwikSurveys is a fantastic tool. It is a free option that is ad-supported, so when you run your survey, respondents will see a few ads on the perimeter. You can’t customize the templates, but they have 30+ available 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). As an added bonus, they have a handful of simpler designs ready to embed in your website, which is a great and easy way to collect responses.

The dashboard is easy to navigate, and you can build your survey with a simple drag-and-drop editor. The types of questions you can ask are a bit limited – no open answer – but to be honest, open-ended questions have no business in a successful survey anyway. So it’s no great loss.

The other huge benefit compared to other options is that KwikSurveys allows you to export your results completely, in multiple file types, which means you can analyze your results in Excel or a statistics software. This is a big deal. Instead of just seeing your overall results, you can manipulate the data and get more interesting insights by testing for significance or putting related questions together in crosstabs. KwikSurveys will clear your data after six months, so this is also important for keeping a record of the surveys you’ve already run.

LimeSurvey

free survey - limesurvey

LimeSurvey is an open-source download. There are a lot of benefits to an open-source option over a free/freemium option. While some tools ask you to pay a fee to get 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 open-source means that you can ask your survey in more than 80 different languages. Surveys and survey responses are unlimited. From their example surveys, it’s clear that this is a no-fuss kind of option, but they do have add-ons for additional templates and question types. These options and add ons will grow over time, as more and more developers around the world work together on this project.

LimeSurvey has most of the functionality of a paid tool, but the drawback is that is requires more work on the back-end. If you have an IT team you can rely on when issues come up, all of the features you need are in arms reach. If you’re going solo on your survey efforts, you might find that you prefer a web or cloud-based option that is less manual.

PollDaddy

free survey-polldaddy

PollDaddy is another good option for general surveys, with a few extra features. For starters, 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 your website.

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

The con here is that PollDaddy does not allow you to export your data, which means you can only see your responses in the aggregate. Though this limits the insights you can draw from your data, it is sufficient if you just want the big picture, or aren’t confident in your analytical skills. The type of surveys you’re looking to run will decide whether you need this feature or not, so be sure to think through your survey plan in advance.

Responster

free survey - 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 your respondents won’t be getting cramps in their thumbs trying to scroll down a page of questions, or trying to click teeny tiny buttons on their mobile screen. The design is sleek and professional: you can add your logo to the start page, brand the buttons with your company colors, and even upload your own background image.

Personally, I find the build page and dashboard so over-simplistic that entering the questions can feel a bit clunky. But from the other end, there’s no arguing that your respondents will be served a seamless user experience.

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

SurveyGizmo

free survey - surveygizmo

SurveyGizmo is a flexible freemium option for surveys. The free version has 20-some question types, allowing you to write a survey that caters to your specific needs. If you need even more question types, it’s easy to bump up to the next paid level when you need to, and fall back down when you don’t ($22 a 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, and you have no limit on the number of respondents you get. SurveyGizmo also does a neat job of pulling an overall report. It will auto-populate the averages and standard deviations for each question, but still lets you download your responses for a deeper dive. Plus, the data is never removed from your account, so there’s no time limit to go back and review old surveys.

If you find that the basic survey options aren’t cutting it for you, SurveyGizmo is a great option. It lets you ask more layered questions, more complicated questions, and ultimately get more insightful results.

More?

This list only accounts for about 2% of all of the survey tools available. Needless to say, this is not inclusive of all of the options – even all of the free options – that you have at your disposal.

Are there any free survey software options you love that I haven’t included here? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for Survey software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Survey software solutions.

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About the Author

Rachel Wille

Rachel is the Market Research Analyst at Capterra. She studied at Carnegie Mellon University and is using her Decision Science degree to communicate data and help people make the right software choice. In her free time, she can be found exploring the realm of fiction and consuming copious amounts of white cheddar popcorn.

Comments

Hi Rachel,

great list! Definitely useful for anyone planning to run a survey.

I’m biased but I think https://survicate.com/ is also a good (and free) tool to run surveys and collect feedback from website visitors. The free plan offers all features needed to run surveys and learn more about visitors. Worth trying out : )
Best

Isn’t LimeSurvey the only open source tool of your list? That’s not really what we expect when reading the title.

Apart from that, this is a nice list 🙂

Hi Rachael
Actually after spending these few months meeting people in meetups, there is this one survey software API that I think we all need. A social profile matching software (like a dating software showing % of personality matching). But it is every individual had its own personal database of questions instead (for every category of questions we also get answering same type of questions meeting new people eg profession,position, work experience, interest/hobby, etc) What if we can each build a database of thousands of different questions answer on a scale of 1-5 and the application will just auto compare all those questions and show up with 2 circles which are the interception of our common interest or personality etc. Eg What is your view on gay marriage? If you put 1 on strong agree and me 5 strongly disagree, then it can also tell us its a topic we should not touch on for a first meeting.

Now there are alot of online survey or poll but repeated questions on eg income/age range, which industries you work in etc are common ones we need to repeatedly reply to even if its a one word different question or range. The API will auto fill in these surveys we intend to participate instead and we can copy those not-answered before questions save into our database for future references.

The features can be setting for each questions: personal, public, upon request type. option to set security type/level offered. Point system to indicate each user numbers of questions answered. Make it easy for company to buy point to conduct the type of survey they want and user can cash out the points or exchange or other rewards. Language translation. Especially for each type or meetup or social setting, organizer can setup his own 10 common questions for the new comers or attendants to answer easily beforehand and make the face time more effective and efficient. Futhermore its can extract already save data from facebook, linkedin or any other social media to make sure registration is easy.

If there are similar paid or free apps already out there that I don’t know please email me.

The list is huge and interesting. To evince, there are many online survey tools such as qualtrics, sogosurvey, that can be included in this list. I have used qualtrics in the past and currently using sogosurvey for market research. Both have been a great tool and provide great customer support as well.

Thanks for the list, Rachel!

Warning to other comment readers: while Qualtrics has a free trial, it’s not a free service, so it doesn’t belong on this list.

Hi Rachel,

Your research is very powerful I must say. These seem to be some amazing free survey tools. However, I would like to suggest Brew Survey feedback tool that lets you collect feedback and create surveys in a fraction of seconds.

Keep sharing such informative blogs.

Hi Rachel,

Great article. Thanks for the list. It has been very usefull.

I’ve done a project in the past on a Dutch surveytool called EnqueteTools.nl. They recently launched a English version of it; https://www.FreeSurvey.company.

It’s free and doesn’t have any limited on repsons or questions. Also, no banners or ads.

Perhaps people might be interessed in it.

Kind regards,

Chris

I recommend you to try SutiSurvey it offers a lot of features for free.

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