Review of Wufoo (as survey software)

Let’s face it: an online survey is, at its heart, simply a collection of forms. Super long forms with many pages and twisty questions yes, but still forms. And built into the very architecture of the world wide web are the tools that are needed to build forms (and ultimately, surveys). So what is the point of building a service that’s only point is to build forms? Who would use it?

Enter Wufoo.com, the Web 2.0 answer to online forms. Creating forms has really never been so easy or so much fun. Or so much fun to look at. Or so smooth. As someone else pointed out somewhere else, this service makes you wish you had a need for a form so that you could use Wufoo to build it. It really is that neat.

Can you make surveys using Wufoo? Not really. I mean, I suppose if you had a really simple survey that you wanted to execute, you probably could. It does let you do multiple choice questions, open-ended questions, and single-response questions. It even has special fields that help respondents enter prices, addresses, e-mail addresses and dates (all of the things one might regularly enter in a form). But there are also a lot of survey-related things that it doesn’t let you do, like create multiple pages, or validate responses in a meaningful way (other than to require the fields). I would hazard to say that as far as survey capabilities go, SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang have more features, as well as libraries of templates you can use to get you started. These are, after all, programs that were specifically designed to help you create surveys.

One thing that was a little annoying — I spent about five minutes designing a form and clicked the "Themes" button to make it look extra pretty — only to discover that my form had completely disappeared! I had assumed that my changes were being saved as I went and never even noticed the "Save Form" button at the bottom-right corner of the page. Make sure you push it when you are done or your simple survey will end up be simpler than you intended. And then you’ll have to start over from scratch.

With that said, I wish SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, and even the package I use, GMI Net-MR, would take a page from the Wufoo design/survey development book and create an interface that is as fun and as easy to use. I would get a lot more work done.

Wufoo offers a variety of pricing plans, ranging from free accounts (the "gratis" plan) which lets you create 3 forms with up to 10 fields each and accept up to 100 entries a month. The next plan up (the "ad hoc" plan) costs only $9 a month and allows you to have up to 10 forms with an unlimited number of fields and accept up to 500 entries. There is also the "bona fide" account (unlimited forms, 3000 responses a month), the "carpe diem" plan (15,000 responses a month) and the "ad infinitum" plan (no limits, total cost is $199 a month).

And if you are trying to create an online form to collect data, and don’t want to mess around with the basic HTML building blocks, and if you want the chance to play with the newest and greatest of what’s out there, then give Wufoo a try.

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