DemLabs blog

How does your audience feel about an issue or candidate?

A quick poll is best way to find out but hard to manage in a noisy, densely packed room. A count of hands is easy but error-prone. Paper questionnaires are better, but need to be printed before the event. Distributing, collecting and counting the questionnaires is cumbersome. There has to be a better way...

A request from a municipal official for help in finding a free solution to conduct real-time surveys at council meetings led to this project. This is how DemLabs researches possible solutions to find the best possible solution at the lowest price. We look for free apps first and then work up from there.

What makes for a good polling app?
- Allows surveys be designed either before or at the event
- Lets the presenter to decide when to pose the survey questions and for how long
- Support different question formats (Yes/No, multiple choice)
- Makes it easy for attendees to vote from either a phone or a laptop
- Participants who are either physically present or watching online can take vote.
- Counts and presents the results immediately in a form that is easy to understand
The app is easy-to-use and either free or very affordable.

Phone-based polling is simple, fast and accurate. DirectPoll is free app to conduct instant polls. Participants respond to a URL or QR Code and complete surveys from a smartphone or laptop. Poll results are counted and shown immediately. Conducting a poll involves three steps;
1. Creating the survey questions
2. Sharing the URL of QR Code with participants
3. Running the poll and displaying the results

Finding solutions
A DemLabs team researched several polling apps in response to the municipal officer's request. Three apps were shortlisted and tested in a test poll. The apps were evaluated on four criteria:
1. Features: Did the app meet all the functional requirements?
2. Ease-of-use: Was it simple enough to be used by non-technical users?
3. Robustness: Was the app dependable and the software firm well established?
4. Cost: How affordable was the solution relative to the features provided?
DirectPoll best met these needs at the lowest price (free)

How we do it
Innovation doesn't always involve creating a new app. Often the need can be met faster and for less cost by applying solutions that already exist - but perhaps not in politics. DemLabs lowers the cost of organizing and campaigning by finding and freely sharing details on innovative solutions and how to apply them. DemLabs looks for free/affordable apps that are tested and widely used and provides unbiased recommendations. We neither develop nor sell software and users can get the apps directly.

What is freemium?
Why do firms provide free software? Software developers provide freemium versions of their products with limited features to encourage people to try them and pay to upgrade the premium product in order to get all the features. The freemium version of many apps is more than enough for many grassroots groups and campaigns.
Let us know of needs that when met could also help other progressive groups. Tell us about good solutions that other groups should know about and we'll help promote them.
Co-Founder, DemLabs
Please share this article. Democracy Labs is a SF-based, hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation for progressives campaigns and advocacy groups. Donate here to support our work.

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.