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.
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.
Of course, you could get rid of the table entirely and just use divs if you were feeling especially inclined.
FreeBlogPoll, BlogPoll, SnapPoll
FreeBlogPoll and SnapPoll seem to use the same software, so I tried out FreeBlogPoll as representative of the group.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 I was 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.
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.
Halfway through creating my poll on the Mister Poll site I got a database error, so I gave up.
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.
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?
If you’re using Movable Type running on PHP you can create a polling system using specially created templates.