Pretty Simple: web, digital, social

I’ve been using Survey Monkey within my organisation for two months now (see my original post about its accessibility, which I’m still looking into). I must say I’ve been very impressed by the customer service – I’ve had a few questions which the (generally excellent) help section has been unable to help me with (mainly because contact with a person was necessary), and they’ve always been quick to respond.

I thought I’d mention a couple of things I’ve done since taking over the account. The lessons learned apply to any similar function, not just Survey Monkey.

SSL enabled

Firstly, I was surprised to see that the account did not have SSL enabled. This costs just $100 extra a year which, for a organisation such as mine, is peanuts. Compare that with the disasters that could await if not using a secure protocol and it’s a no-brainer. Sadly this only really came to my attention when I heard about a survey we’d run to gather parent’s opinions on school buildings. A local parent council blog had flagged up the potential security risk, and quite rightly so. We were asking for a few personal details, although to be fair these were not mandatory. Even so, those unaware of the difference between http and https may not have appreciated the risks (however small) and that’s not really on. Needless to say we’ve now upgraded, so people’s response are collected securely at their end and the results are downloaded securely at this end.

Friendly URLs

Secondly, a nice “courtesy feature”* is the ability to request friendly URLs. So instead of the usual string of alpha-numeric characters you can get something that actually makes sense (e.g. This is really useful, especially if there’s a chance that people may need to type in the address, or if you want to refer to it in print. To underline the great customer service, I requested one to be set up and it took just a couple of hours.

Something to be aware of, if also using SSL, is that your users will need to include the https:// at the start of the URL. If they just type in from the www… they’ll get directed to the insecure version. Survey Monkey does not offer the ability to always redirect to the secure version, which they say is for the benefit of any systems that can not access the secure pages.

*Presumably a “courtesy feature” is something they’ll probably do, but aren’t obligated to. Hopefully, then, they’ll continue to offer this (and for free).

Loop to start

You’ve got various options for where to direct the user on completion of the survey (i.e. to a thank you page, another website, or even close the window). Another option, though, is to loop the user back to the start of the survey. This function has proved useful recently when we used Survey Monkey as the basis for an audit. Each auditor would typically be looking at 5 or more things, each requiring a unique response, so once one audit was complete they’d be going straight back into the survey to do another. The ‘loop to start’ function was, obviously, the perfect solution for this.

Invitations by e-mail

A tremendously useful feature is the ability to set up Survey Monkey to e-mail a list of recipients with an invitation to complete your survey. Each recipient gets a unique URL, enabling the system to track who has and hasn’t responded. This then means that you can easily send reminders targeted only at those who are yet to respond.

I thought it worth mentioning this function in the privacy statement that I am developing to accompany any surveys, and accordingly included this on the front page of the survey:

If you arrived at this survey via an e-mail invitation, it will be possible for us to link your answers with your e-mail address. Any information you provide will be kept secure and only used for evaluating the results of the survey.

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