Polls and surveys are two ways to obtain information on a certain topic. Both methods are used by researchers to measure opinions and garner feedback. The major difference between a poll and a survey is that, a poll is simple and quick and a survey can be, open-ended and time-taking.
Polls have one multiple choice question with two or more choices to answer and can be found everywhere these days on newspaper, entertainment and sports websites. They are often located on the side of a blog or under an article on a website with questions such a ‘How do you feel about the website’ or ‘Who will win this competition’.
Surveys are more comprehensive when compared to polls. They usually have multiple questions and can be built with open-ended themes. Surveys question numbers can range from one to many because surveys are majorly used to measure the view of the respondents on a broad topic or to attain their feedback. To garner these opinions surveyors can create questions which can be open-ended, multiple choice, or ask the respondents to rank them (on a scale of 1-10 or Satisfied, Dissatisfied , Happy , Not Happy etc.)
Both polls and surveys can be conducted via various media such as telephone, websites, emails or during a face to face interaction. Both polls and survey have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Polls have the ability to be anonymous, as one may visit a website and provide the response. The website generally does not ask for any personal details as the purpose of this exercise is to generally gauge consensus of wider audience.
A survey, can however, ask to give ones information in order to do a detailed analysis of the result. This information can be in the form of name, age, phone number, e-mail address, physical address, etc. This also helps in doing a follow up interview in case of further questions.
Surveys are a long tedious process and require a lot of time and effort. Generally, people are hesitant to take a survey as they might not be comfortable giving out their personal information. This creates a problem in gathering information, as less people come forward to release their opinion and hence there is a possibility of the result being biased due to lack of a good sample population for the survey. Hence, surveys tends to require more man-power to get quality results and tend to be more expensive than a poll.
Polls also have their limitation, as they can only provide general opinion to a question. In this regard, surveys have an advantage over polls as they can get more detailed answers and be more comprehensive. However, surveys take a long time to process information and release results. Whereas polls results can be summarized quickly and in a few sentences.
In a nutshell, a poll gives the flexibility to elicit a response via multiple choice questions and participants have only the option to choose from predefined answers. This helps in getting a more controlled and guided response from the participants. A survey lets participants provide wider viewpoints on the topic. Participants can comment on the questions and allows the surveyor to ask multiple questions across a wider range of question types.