Quick Surveying You Can Afford
SurveyGold v. 6.3
by Golden Hills Software Inc.
100 MHz Pentium or better; 32 MB RAM; 18 MB hard disk space; and Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME or NT 4.0.
$100. Site, quantity, nonprofit, academic and government discounts available.
Contact: Golden Hills Software Inc.www.surveygold.com
6512 Hawkeye Circle
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
Telephone: (719) 660-6272
Fax: (309) 279-6240
SurveyGold v. 6.3
by Dirk Dusharme
When someone tells me that they have
deliberately designed a piece of software with no bells or whistles, it usually means that they either didn't have the skill to produce a product with
enhanced features, lacked the vision to see the usefulness of those features or were rushing to get a product to market. The result is often lackluster and clumsy.
One exception is SurveyGold from Golden Hills Software. In some ways, this basic survey-development package outperforms some of the much-higher-priced products that we've tested.
We reviewed SurveyGold this month while preparing for our Six Sigma survey. Using its Microsoft Windows Explorer-like interface, we quickly created several sections of
both multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions (a section being a group of similar questions--e.g., demographics).
Moving questions within a section or to another section were matters of simple drag-and-drop. Adding and deleting questions was easy and also paralleled Explorer operations.
For the multiple-choice questions, we quickly created our choice of answers for a question and then used a SurveyGold feature that automatically inserts the same
multiple-response choices for subsequent questions, which greatly sped up the survey-creation process.
Once complete, a survey can be printed out, easily administered over the Web or conducted over the phone. You have little control over what the HTML output looks
like but, hey, it's all about gathering data; who cares about the survey's aesthetics? The HTML output is clean and simple and will work on any browser.
Save the survey as a Web page and post it on any Web server; it doesn't have to be hosted by Golden Hills, nor does it require any kind of CGI script, which should save
you unending headaches. In a very smart move, Golden Hills circumvented the entire hosting/CGI mess by setting up SurveyGold to either e-mail the survey administrator
each response or, better yet, send all responses to Golden Hills, which holds the responses until the survey administrator retrieves them--in bulk--directly into the
SurveyGold package for analysis. For those who administer multiple surveys, SurveyGold tracks which responses belong to which survey. During download, the
respondents must have cookies enabled in their browsers.
When conducting a survey by phone, SurveyGold provides on-screen data entry that
allows the survey administrator to record contact information for the respondent, a call-back time if the respondent is currently unavailable and a nicely laid out data entry
screen for each question, including a notes area to record respondent comments. The phone-survey contact list can be manually input into SurveyGold's master contact list
or imported from a Microsoft Outlook address book. Multiple respondent lists are easily created from the master list. But not everybody uses Outlook, and even those
who do probably don't use it to house the list of all the people with whom they are going to conduct a phone survey. The ability to import a tab- or comma-delimited
contact list would be a big improvement.
Although Golden Hills describes its program's data analysis capabilities as very basic,
most casual survey administrators will find SurveyGold's tools adequate if all they're doing is tabulating results using frequency or cross-tab charts. One very nice feature
is the simple graphical interface that allows administrators to create filters that look at subsets of data, giving them the ability to drill down into the response set. Though the
filters are best suited for use with multiple-choice questions, they add quite a bit of power to SurveyGold's basic analysis.
For those who need to perform more sophisticated analysis, SurveyGold allows users to export data in SPSS, dbf, DIF, Microsoft Excel and several other formats for use in
other analysis applications.
SurveyGold's manufacturer points out that its software is designed for those who
need to quickly deploy surveys and whose analysis needs are simple. When evaluating this package, carefully consider what type of analysis you need to do. Though
SurveyGold will export its data, you may find the format a bit difficult to deal with.
Overall, we were impressed with this tool. Easy to use and deploy, SurveyGold
delivers a lot more than you would expect from a simple, inexpensive software package. This is one survey-development package that you must see. If your survey
and analysis needs are simple (and maybe even if they aren't), try the free evaluation copy available from the Golden Hills Web site or just buy the full version. At around
$100, you can't go wrong.