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They’re not the same! The difference between Surveys, Polls, & Forms

Shweta Menon

3 min read

Surveys, polls, and forms – You’d think they’re one and the same, but they’re poles apart in terms of their intent, usage, and data analysis. All three of them contribute to data collection and feedback, but the real mystery is: What sets them apart? Let’s find out!

What are they? 

First things first, let’s get to know surveys, polls, and forms better before we differentiate them:

Surveys

A survey is a form that contains a variety of questions for detailed data and feedback collection. From contact details to ratings and opinions, a survey can gather all kinds of information that you desire. Examples of surveys include Customer Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Website Feedback, etc. 

Polls

A poll is the shorter version of a form that includes only a single question. It usually gathers opinions or preferences on a specific subject such as a person, topic, technology, event, etc. Respondents are required to pick a choice from the available list and after submission, the poll results are published where they can view the percentage of votes for each choice. Polls are widely used in elections, market research, and for gauging general opinions from favorite colors to the kinds of shoes you’d most likely purchase.

Forms

A form, similar to a survey has many questions and is used for data collection – except its only transactional. You can see forms being used for purchase orders, event registrations, school admissions, job applications, and so much more. 

When do we use them?

Now that we know what forms, surveys, and polls are about, when exactly do we use them? Here’s when they come in handy:

Surveys

Surveys can be used for relational as well as transactional instances. Feedback collection is a major use case for surveys since it’s the perfect medium that aids businesses in catching all kinds of feedback from their customers. It helps academics conduct thorough research for their papers, and provides organizations with the ability to keep a check on employee pulse in the workplace. 

Polls

Polls are used when you only need to discover opinions on one topic of interest. They’re solely relational in nature and are useful when you need to understand the mindset of the general public on certain narrowed down subjects. 

Forms

Forms are nothing but transactional. Every form has an intent for a kind of action required from its respondents, be it signing up for a marathon, creating an account on a website or even ordering a pizza

Surveys vs Polls vs Forms: A Comparison

It’s time to get down into the nitty-gritty details of what makes polls, surveys, and forms different. Their vast differences are as follows: 

Both surveys and forms are lengthy, but polls are much shorter. Thus, surveys and forms require a longer time to complete as compared to polls. Surveys and forms collect personal information from respondents, whereas polls don’t. 

Survey questions are of a multitude of various types from open-ended questions to constant sum and matrix grid. Forms utilize less of a variety as compared to surveys since it’s mainly used for collecting registrations, payments, job applications, and orders. Polls only utilize one question type – multiple choice. 

With online polls, on submission, the results are declared immediately. Online surveys, on the other hand, only publish results after a thorough analysis of the data received. Forms don’t share any results since it’s mostly confidential information populated in a database. 

Out of all three, surveys require the most extensive amount of data analysis due to the plethora of questions asked. With polls, the data collected is very limited to a narrow topic. Forms, on the other hand, collect sufficient data required for any form of transaction. 

In conclusion, although surveys, polls, and forms are considered to be the three musketeers of data collection, they each have their own purpose to fulfil and hence, cannot be used interchangeably.

Shweta Menon

Product Marketer at SurveySparrow

An introvert who finds solace in the comforting words of literature.

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