Businesses that understand their customers are the first to succeed, but getting customer feedback using traditional methods, such as e-mail or paper-based surveys, can be time-consuming, expensive, and unsuccessful. Customers are more likely to make suggestions or give feedback when they are visiting a company Web site; therefore, Web-based surveys can be a vital piece of an overall business strategy.
Many products have appeared on the market that help webmasters create and post online surveys. I looked at Principia Products' Remark Web Survey 1.0, which shipped in early March.
This simple application lets anyone who can operate a mouse put together elegant-looking surveys that are ready to upload to a Web server in a matter of minutes.
Remark Web Survey consists of two components: Designer and Server. The Designer component runs on Windows, and the Server component is Perl-based and will run on any Web server platform.
I installed the software quickly and began creating a survey. The wizard-based Remark Web Survey was straightforward to use, and the software gave me a lot of control over the design of my surveys.
For example, I could easily incorporate text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, drop-down lists, and graphics.
After completing the survey, I was shown three views: a source view that contained the HTML, a design view that represented the structure of my survey in a directory tree, and a browser view that displayed the survey as it would appear on a Web page.
Remark Web Survey lacks an easy way to toggle between the three views within the Designer, a problem that could be solved by adding tabs on top of the view windows. In addition, I had to save the finished survey in a proprietary format and publish it to a Web server separately.
The company would be smart to provide a way to publish surveys directly to the server in the next release. Completed survey data is stored in a tab-delimited format so it can be manipulated by another application, such as Microsoft Excel.
Remark Web Survey faces competition from many similar products, including SurveySolutions from Perseus Development and EZSurvey from Raosoft.
Remark Web Survey is more expensive than Survey-Solutions, and its data-collection methods could be improved; however, it is certainly easy to use and will furnish your Web site with an instant online feedback tool.
The Bottom Line
Remark Web Survey 1.0
Summary: This Web-based survey-creation tool provides a simple GUI that allows almost anyone to easily create online surveys in a very short time.
Business Case: Remark Web Survey offers a way to collect customer information quickly without tying up IT resources.
Pros: Wizard-based; easy to use.
Cons: No direct-to-Web publishing method; no built-in statistical tools; results must be downloaded manually.
Price: $595 for single licence; multiple user packs available on application.
Platforms: Windows 95/98, Windows NT; server component runs on any Web server.
Australian reseller: Indigo Pacific
Tel (02) 9955 8000