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What is LimeSurvey

LimeSurvey (formerly PHPSurveyor) is a survey-creation tool designed to help users collect information from (and about) respondents. Available either as a free download or a one-click install, this software is helpful in creating targeted marketing campaigns and evaluating their efficacy.

Effective marketing starts with good information, the cornerstone of successful marketing campaigns is a comprehensive effort to examine and understand your potential customers. Who they are, where they live, and what they like are just some of the key components to building targeted marketing that engages and converts.

The Internet provides us with numerous options for collecting this raw data, ranging from cookies, data mining solutions and tracking software. However, at a time when an increasing number of people are becoming aware of online privacy issues, some of these methods can prove unpopular.

Surveys can deliver more accurate and valuable information

Surveys are another, more straightforward and direct way of collecting data – simply ask your customers what they think and need. While a bit more painstaking, this approach is also targeted and results in less useless raw data.

Of course, surveys predate the Internet, but they remain one of the best ways to collect specific and valuable information that may not be easy to attain via cookies, data mining or other methods.

Since you control the questions, you control the context, the target audience and the information doesn't have to be harvested from the Internet – you go directly to the source, getting specific answers from a specific demographic. Users also have an incentive to participate in online surveys, as they can help improve services they rely upon, or alternatively, be combined with giveaways and other promotional programmes.

What are your options?

When it comes to online surveys, there are a number of different options. Some serices, like Survey Monkey, QuestionPro, Qualtrics or SurveyGizmo, are hosted on their proprietary servers and users merely need to sign up.

Others can be hosted on your own server and LimeSurvey falls into this category. Alternatives that can be installed on your server include StatPac, SurveyCrafter, Remark and Opinio.

Some services specialise in mobile surveys. Kinesis Survey Technologies and OnePoint dominate this emerging niche.

LimeSurvey owes much of its popularity to the fact that it is free and open source. LimeSurvey was formerly known as PHPSurveyor and, as the name suggests, it is written in PHP. It uses MySQL for database management, which means there is an abundance of developers who can get to grips with it. This fact also helps make LimeSurvey more popular.

Installing LimeSurvey, hosting considerations

Hardware requirements for LimeSurvey are low. It requires less than 100MB of storage, a fresh version of MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server, as well as PHP 5.x or later, with a few common modules.

Although it is a good idea to check whether your host supports the necessary PHP and MySQL versions, the vast majority of hosts do. While LimeSurvey is a free download, it may have an effect on system resources depending on the number of scope and surveys you create. This could incur additional costs in case you are not careful, but this should not be an issue for most users.

You can create an unlimited number of surveys, with unlimited questions and an unlimited number of participants, in multiple languages. In case you go too far, you may exceed your bandwidth, run out of storage or place too much load on your server, but most users won't have to worry about this potential problem.

Many providers offer LimeSurvey as a one-click install via their hosting control panels, making the process even easier.

Hassle-free surveys

Once installed, LimeSurvey lets you create surveys through a simple to use What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor or a more advanced HTML editor. You can set each question in one of 28 categories, and built-in question logic modules allow for context-dependent answers (handy for participants to whom not all questions apply).

Surveys can be anonymous or require registration, can be set to expire automatically, and set up so that participants can pause their survey and return to finish it later.

LimeSurvey also allows you to create various contextual scenarios, changing the survey depending on input. Tokens can also be used and email support is integrated as well. Thanks to CSS support, it is possible to tweak the appearance to match your organisation's design language, but in case this is not necessary there are plenty of templates to choose from.

While it is free, LimeSurvey is a powerful tool with countless customization options and a range of features that should meet all online survey needs.

LimeSurvey Frequently Asked Questions

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