By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-01-10 Print this article Print

The latest release of WebSurveyor Corp.s namesake product makes conducting online surveys even easier. With the implementation of a new user interface that features a more intuitive design and the addition of an invitation management system for e-mail campaigns, WebSurveyor 5.0 takes some of the work out of creating thorough, effective surveys.

Released last month, WebSurveyor 5.0 requires an Internet connection and a standard browser such as Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer 4.0 or later, America Online Inc.s Netscape, or The Mozilla Foundations Firefox 1.0.

At press time, WebSurveyor Pro with one survey at a time costs $1,500. WebSurveyor Pro Plus with one survey at a time and the List Management invitation management system costs $2,250. WebSurveyor Pro with an unlimited number of concurrent surveys costs $3,000. WebSurveyor Pro Plus with an unlimited number of concurrent surveys and the List Management system costs $4,000.

Organizations seeking a variety of methods to conduct surveys, such as by telephone or direct mailing, should probably look elsewhere: As its name suggests, WebSurveyor does not extend surveys beyond the Web. However, businesses that dont require a complex enterprise survey application should consider WebSurveyor 5.0 because the hosted online survey applications ease of use belies its many capabilities.

Click here to read Labs reviews of three other Web survey applications. WebSurveyor has always excelled at assisting users, and this latest update continues that tradition. Newbies to the survey creation process will find the step-by-step method and the simple, uncluttered UI to be approachable.

For example, the inclusion of a survey dashboard provided us with centralized control of the survey process. By checking the dashboard, we could get an integrated view of our top-five surveys and each surveys response activity. The dashboard also let us manage our mailing lists and WebSurveyor account.

In addition, inexperienced survey creators will receive guidance from a new survey checklist accessible during survey creation.

The checklist guides novice users through the survey-building process by alerting them when a task, such as the publication of a survey, has been completed.

Advanced users will like the addition of some more sophisticated features, including quote and data controls, that limit responses to a survey, as well as the ability to score and apply weighted values to response options. Other features we liked include improvements to Cluster Reports, which allows users to create multiple reports based on a single criterion, and the revamped Survey Detail Reporting, which provides a concise overview of a survey, including export values and question styles.

As data from surveys comes in, WebSurveyors Survey Analysis feature processes and updates graphs with the latest results and makes those results immediately accessible in the dashboard or in an analysis window. Using Survey Analysis, we were able to cross-tabulate results between two different questions, as well as drill down and filter specific results for a particular question. This kind of granularity is an improvement over the last version of WebSurveyor.

WebSurveyor 5.0 includes a password-protected gateway page that limits access to a survey based on user log-ins. By limiting survey access, we could send surveys that users could fill out at unsecured sites, such as kiosks. We were able to do this by requiring every survey taker to log in using a set user-name-and-password combination.

Theres no point in having a great survey if no one takes it. WebSurveyor 5.0 makes conducting e-mail campaigns easier with the addition of an invitation management system.

The invitation management system allows users to conduct multiple e-mail campaigns that are personalized for each survey recipient. When sending a survey to a mailing list that included other eWEEK Labs analysts, we could address each analyst by name in an e-mailed survey invitation.

The WebSurveyor List Manager invitation management system also allowed us to send customized HTML and text e-mail messages easily to our survey recipients, and we could remind each respondent by name to complete our surveys. Messages, reminders and thank-you notes can be customized through 20 user-defined fields.

It should be noted, however, that organizations will need to purchase a version of WebSurveyor Pro Plus to have access to the WebSurveyor List Manager invitation management system.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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