Comparison of Services to Create Online Polls

I've been thinking about online polls a lot lately. It started with a poll I posted for fun about what people wear for work (it's still open if you want to add your vote).

This led me to think about the design issues involved in presenting an online poll, specifically regarding Quimble, the service I used.

There must have been something in the air, for a few days later, ProBlogger posted a couple of great articles – one about using polls effectively on a blog, and the second listing a number of free blog poll tools.

Based on Darren's second post, I thought I'd take a more in depth look at these online poll services and see how they compared.

Vizu

I was impressed with Vizu. You can easily customize how your poll displays including both colors and certain data elements. It also gives you the choice of displaying your results as a pie-chart or a bar graph.

Web Polls by Vizu

Another thing I like about Vizu is that the HTML that you put on your page is easy to customize. Yes, it's laid out using a table by default, but it's easy to tweak the variables in the JavaScript in order to change the design.

Of course, you could get rid of the table entirely and just use divs if you were feeling especially inclined.

FreeBlogPoll, BlogPoll, SnapPoll

FreeBlogPoll, BlogPoll and SnapPoll all seem to use the same software, so I tried out FreeBlogPoll as representative of the group.

Unfortunately, although the poll creation process was straightforward – you didn't even have to create an account to create a poll – when I placed the JavaScript on my page, no poll displayed.

I tried it a few times, but nothing seemed to work, so I gave up.

One other point; I usually like the idea of online software that doesn't require you to create an account. However, in this instance I think it's actually quite useful to have an account where you can view all your polls in one place, create new ones from old designs and so on.

BlogFlux

I was not impressed by the default styling of the BlogFlux poll and they don't provide any customization options while you're creating it. I'm not sure why you'd use them given the other options available.

Quimble

Like I said, I tried Quimble before and posted my thoughts and ideas for improvements in an earlier post. The default version uses a line of JavaScript to create a poll like this:

Alternatively, you can take the HTML they provide and customize it yourself:

What's your favorite color?






Powered by Quimble

The downside to this version is that the results page is hosted by Quimble, not integrated into the poll on your page, so it takes people off your site.

iMediaPOLL

iMediaPOLL is the only Flash-based poll I encountered. It looks pretty nice, although the large, animated ad at the bottom is pretty annoying, and you are very limited in terms of your customization options.

It doesn't seem to fit on the page very well though either. I don't know where there's all that white space showing above it. Still, it does have a certain pizazz, even if it's a little slow to load at times.










dPolls

For some reason, I had a tough time signing up for a dPolls account. However, once I was able to, creating a poll was a straightforward process. It's very 'Ajaxified', but is easy enough to use.

I'm not so keen on the hiding the results icon in the bottom right corner like they do – smacks of 'mystery meat navigation' to me. I almost missed it.

That particular background image is displaying because I choose 'Arts' as the category for my poll. I wish there was an option not to display any image, but there isn't.


Create polls and vote for free. dPolls.com

BlogPolls

I tried signing up with BlogPolls, but halfway through creating my poll I was told that I needed to create a blog first. Why? I have no idea. So I clicked on the link to create a blog and the page timed out. At that point I gave up.

My confidence in the service wasn't helped by the fact that the first field in the poll set-up form was labelled "Denomination". I'm sorry? I have no idea what Iwas supposed to enter in there, but it must be important as it was a required field.

Anyway, take my advice and give BlogPolls a miss.

MajikWidget

Update: MajikWidget (based on my feedback, so they say) have removed the need to add the line of code to your site in order to create an account. And their poll tool looks good too. So, go ahead and try them out. How's that for being responsive?

Apparently, MajikWidget provides blog polls. However, their sign-up process was too much hassle, so I gave up.

You can only use their service a certain number of times for free, and in order to even see what 'widgets' are available to use, you have to first add a line of JavaScript to a live page to register your blog with them. Thanks, but I'll pass.

Mister Poll

Halfway through creating my poll on the Mister Poll site I got a database error, so I gave up.

PollPub

PollPub is a new entry to the field. Creating a poll is a simple, no-frills affair. Customization of your poll can only be done in the code they provide to add to your site, which could be a pain if you want to create polls on an ongoing basis.

On the other hand, it enables you to have a great deal of flexibility in how your poll looks. There's no option to view results without voting, which seems a bit odd.


PollPub.com Vote
What is your favorite color?
Red
Blue
Green
Yellow
Other



Poll powered by PollPub.com Free Polls

And the Winner Is…

My preferred poll is Vizu. It looks good out of the box and it's easy to customize the HTML if you want to. They also provide several options when it comes to how you want your poll to work and what data you wish to display.

That's my take – how about yours? Are there any great online polling services that I've missed?

Other Options

If you're using Movable Type running on PHP you can create a polling system using specially created templates.

If you're using WordPress, WP-Polls and Democracy both seem to be popular plugins.

Posted on: June 5, 2006 | 5 Comments

Recent Entries in "Tools & Resources"

5 Comments Posted

Hi,

does anyone know a poll server, where I could create a poll, which shows the result BEFORE voting?

I would like to insert polls in my blog which are of this kind: "here is the result, vote!"

It would be ok, if the server allowed the result page to be inserted by a script in my blog. It can be a separate box, I would be glad with that.

But I did not find any such server.

All of them are presenting the results after you voted. The result is either shown with a script, which is static (bars and colors and length hard coded), or it is a flas, and simply the same script shows the result, when the buttonis pressed, so there is no separate script for showing the result.

mail me please!
Matthias

Do you think you may sometimes add a review of pollpub.com to your blog? We think PollPub offers the simplest interface yet for adding polls to either PollPub.com or to your website/blog/myspace page. PollPub also has the ajax but they do not overdue anything. What do you think?

Chris – to be honest, I'm underwhelmed.

I added your poll to my site, but when I choose an option and click vote, I'm taken to the PollPub site where I have to take the poll all over again. What's up with that?

Also, it seems that I can take the same poll more than once and there's no option to view results.

Plus, when I'm in my PollPub account page, I don't seem to be able to edit and manage my existing polls or make new ones from previous ones.

Perhaps I missed all this functionality, but if I did, that would be a problem in itself. Sorry to be so negative.

Thanks for the review, Christian. I put a Vizu poll on my site because of your review. It's HERE.

I liked the way the results displayed afterward within the same box (here, on your poll). They didn't do that for me! You are taken to the Vizu site and you can't even see the results at first view (you have to scroll down).

Is there a way for me to make it work like yours?

Thanks again for the great review!

~Sera

Sera – I'm not sure why it doesn't work for you.

It may because your site is hosted on Blogger, which could be blocking the way that the JavaScript in the poll works in some way.

You need to use the "AJAX/JavaScript" version of your Vizu poll, which is supposed to work with "Blogger's Template position", whatever that means.

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