When you want to ask your readers a question or are stuck for a quality post nothing beats a poll. In this post I will show you how to add a poll to your WordPress blog.
What Will a Poll Bring to My Blog?
A poll is a very easy way to engage your readers, there is not the in-depth need to write a reply like a comment, a simple click on a yes or no answer is far more likely to generate feedback. It helps to engage your audience and make your blog feel more like a conversation than a lecture. Consider this; if someone asks your opinion in a conversation rather than talking at you during the intercourse, what feels better? I think polls add a pause to your conversation where your readers can give their opinion.
Polls are good for asking questions about your niche, getting feedback from your readers or even for marketing purposes e.g. a poll asking if your readers are interested in a membership side to your blog can be excellent market research.
I have used polls as way to test if my blog content is pitched at the correct level by asking the technical expertise of my readers, I have used it to test if people want particular services from me.
Add One Polling Plugin
Where there’s a poll there is plugin that’s my motto of the minute. Adding a poll to your blog is as easy as finding the right plugin. Below I list the things to consider when choosing your plugin.
Widget or Post
If you are running you poll over a number of days it maybe more appropriate to add a widget to your blog’s sidebar rather than containing your poll in a post. This is because posts may drop off the front page of your blog and potential poll results may be missed.
Check with your particular plugin to see if it is widget ready. I like a plugin which gives me the flexibilty of adding it to a post or page as well as having a ready made widget.
Posting the Results
I like a poll plugin which automatically calculates the results at the end of my polling period as well as an ongoing count displayed to my readers. Check to see if your polling plugin presents results to your users or only on the backend to your the administrator.
My Preferred Polling Preference
Alliteration always makes me happy
As always I would encourage you to check out the available poll plugins from the plugin repository and see which one matches your requirements, there are a number to test at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/polls.
The poll widget I use is called WP-Polls, it is available for download http://lesterchan.net/portfolio/programming/php/#wp-polls
The plugin has an admin interface where you create your poll, then it is inserted into a post using a tag [~poll id="n"] the tag is then replaced and the poll inserted for all to see. It comes with a widget built in to drop polls onto your sidebar(s).
WP-Polls has a template editor so you can match polls to the look and feel of your site and It has a really handy interface in the dashboard so you can analyse the results of your polls.
I can set a time limit for my poll, and at the end it marks it as closed and only the results are shown. It allows you to set who can vote i.e. guest or registered users, I would not recommend using the registered users option, any barrier to entry will stop people voting in your poll.
The only thing missing for me is free form fields which would allow me to get more than a yes or no answer to my poll.
Offsite Polling Solutions
There are various solutions out there which allow you to host a poll off-site and then display it on your site. Solutions such as Poll Daddy will host your poll. This is of benefit if you poll is a huge multi page thing and you expect housands of results. Of course these tend to work under the freemium model with more advanced options available at a fee.
Have you used any offsite polling solutions let me know in the comments.
If you want a very quick poll with immediate results, I can wholeheartedly recommend the combination of twitter and polldaddy, in a couple of seconds you can create a poll and put it in front of your twitter followers. This is excellent for asking a quick question and having the results correlated for you. This can be done from http://twitter.polldaddy.com/
The lazy writers guide to Polls
I’ll let you into the secret, polls help to fill gaps in your posting schedule if you are stuck for something to write about, first of all you set the poll with a couple of paragraphs of why you are running the poll, post one – check.
Next you get the result post where you analyse the post bingo two posts, not a great deal of effort. Post two -check, see how it fills the gaps.
Are You Going to Add a Poll?
Here’s a sample poll for you, I would appreciate your feedback: