Most Web Polling software are free, intuitive and require no technical knowledge but the only problem is that there are just too many polling services available and picking the one that best fits your requirement may not be that easy. The following guide therefore highlights the unique features of all the popular web polling software around and this should help you make the right choice quickly.

toluna1. Toluna – Toluna is an online polling software that also lets you add videos and pictures to poll answers to make them look more descriptive. The service is integrated with Plaxo so it should be easy to invite existing contacts to take your poll.

When you create a new poll inside Toluna, it will automatically suggest a list of existing polls that could be related to the poll you have in mind. This is a big time saver for general interest polls like "Which is your favorite email?" because you can just copy an existing poll rather than doing everything from scratch.

micropoll2. Micropoll – This web poll service doesn’t require registration and you can create a quick poll by simply typing all the possible choices in a text box separated by new lines. Micropoll provides a variety of colored themes and you can embed polls in websites either as JavaScript or a Flash movie. You get to see poll responses on a world map and the paid version also supports SMS polls.

google-docs3. Google Docs – You create a new form in Google Docs and include either "Multiple Choice" or "Choose from a list" type of questions to compose a poll.

This is very practical for large polls / surveys as all the data is directly captured inside a spreadsheet and that makes for easy analysis. However the poll embedding options in Google Docs aren’t very convenient and users can’t see the results after voting.

polldaddy4. PollDaddy is the most popular online polling software that was recently acquired by Automattic, the same company that also develops WordPress blogging software.

PollDaddy also lets you insert pictures and YouTube clips in your polls though there’s no integrated search as in Toluna. You can choose a styles from the available skins or create something unique via CSS. Polls can be embedded in web pages either as JavaScript or Flash widgets. You can subscribe to poll results via RSS feeds or export them as XML / CSV for analysis in programs like Microsoft Excel.

strawpoll5. StrawPoll – This is an interesting service that lets you run live polls on Twitter. You post a question one your Twitter page directly via StrawPoll and your Twitter friends / followers can vote by simply replying to your Tweet.

StrawPoll allows only two choices per question (like Do you like Coffee? Yes or No) but still great for getting feedback from the Twitter community as it very convenient. (also see: Twitter Guide)

poll-everywhere6. Poll Everywhere – The drawback with either of the poll services discussed above is that they all require web access for people to participate and are therefore not very useful in situations where you want the offline audience to vote (like a conference room without Internet).

A good alternative to web polls are SMS Polls where people can vote though text messaging on mobile phones just like polls conducted on TV or radio. The Poll Everywhere service is now available in almost every country and the basic plan is free though it only allows 30 votes per poll.

notifu7. Notifu – Another unique service that lets you conduct polls via Email or IM. You create a poll on the Notifu website, type in the possible responses and then invite contacts who can vote through email, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and all other popular IM clients.

Other than email or IM, your friends / colleagues can also vote via SMS messages though that is a charged option.

vizu8. Vizu Polls – If you are looking to expand the reach of your web polls beyond the limited audience of your blog or website, Vizu Web Polls are an option worth looking at.

With Vizu you can create a regular poll and embed it on your own site – it will also show the voter locations on a Google Map. Next is the Vizu ad network where you can have that poll published on external websites for a fee.

imageWhich polling software is right for me?

All the services discussed above offer some unique options. For instance, Notifu allows polling via email while Micropoll lets you create polls even without asking for your email address. So here’s my take:

If you are doing a poll with a small group of friends some of who may be on email or IM, go with Notifu.

If you are a doing a presentation in a conference room and need opinions of participants over a certain topic, try Poll Everywhere as not everywhere may be carrying a web enable smartphone.

If you need polls for embedding in web pages, stick with Poll Daddy. The free version of PollDaddy offers unlimited polls and unlimited number of votes though you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro version for detailed visitor analysis like the ability the see voter location and also to prevent fraudulent multiple votes from the same IP address.

If you are creating a general poll from scratch but need ideas for possible responses / answers, give Toluna a shot.  And finally, if you to need to run your poll on external websites, your only choice is Vizu.

Related: Useful Blog Add-on and Widgets