Posted by Ralph | November 26, 2012
Backwards compatibility. It’s not exactly the sexiest topic, but it’s still important. Very important, in fact, if you care about maximizing participation in your mobile polls. Smartphones may be taking over in North America, Europe and a few parts in Asia, but did you know that, on aggregate, worldwide sales of “feature phones” still account for the large majority of mobile phones? Even in the U.S., though sales of smartphones now dominate, their penetration only just reached 50-50 parity with feature phones earlier this year. [source: Nielson data]
So what does this mean? For any given audience, you are going to have a non-negligible amount of people without a smartphone. If you want to engage that audience with a mobile poll — for example, at a live event in an auditorium, or outdoors with a sign asking a question to passersby – you need to consider how to allow those with an older device to participate as well.
A poll using one of the many iPhone/Android poll apps available in the app stores today is not going to cut it. (In fact, even individuals with smartphones probably won’t be able to participate: Do you expect them to download an app, on the spot, using several megabytes of their data plan, just to then participate in your little poll?) One of the websites offering online polls? Yes, the poll will probably display OK on smartphones and tablets, but what about those with the feature phones? Facebook polls? Outside of tablets, they don’t work on any mobile device…
The solution is, of course, polltogo. (Would I be posting this otherwise?) From the start, we’ve tried our best to ensure that polls our users create work on all mobile devices, even older feature phones with a WAP browser.
Though universal device compatibility has been at the heart of polltogo since we launched last year, I was reminded of its importance last week with two polltogo polls initiated in Africa that came to my attention (feature phones account for 82% of mobiles in Africa & the Middle East). One in Cairo, Egypt, publicized by a citizen media organization, to gauge public reaction to recent political events; the other in Ghana, a small poll to assess voting intentions in their upcoming presidential election.
As we already mentioned in our blog some months ago, many of our earliest users have been college/university educators in the US & Canada. The most common environments where polltogo has been used (based on the teachers that reached out to us) are large auditoriums and medium-sized university lecture halls.
Now that summer has arrived again, I went back to ask for feedback. One professor who had a class of 150 first-year students was kind enough to send me an anonymized transcription of the student feedback he received as part of his overall course evaluation. I can’t think of a better way to get the verdict on polltogo in the classroom than from students themselves! Given the comments I saw, this professor is already quite good at what he does, but there’s no doubt that the students loved the live interactivity polltogo provided to the lectures. In fact, the only “negative” feedback related to polltogo that I found was from a student who felt that in-class live polls should be somehow mandatory and for credit or bonus marks. (Interesting idea…)
My own suggestion: Why wait for the end of the year for formal course evaluations? Why not perform ad-hoc course evaluations throughout the term using polltogo? Perhaps a small multiple choice poll (or a rating poll) to see if students are OK with the pace of the material, and don’t forget to include an anonymous “comments” box for freeform feedback!
Yes, it’s possible. In fact, it turns out that polltogo presents certain advantages!
To be honest, when we started working on polltogo, we hadn’t anticipated that our platform could be useful in this field, surely full of other more advanced or existing solutions… But time and again, while we have been out giving talks or pitches related to polltogo, some of the people coming up to chat afterwards would want to talk about “real” polls. When many people use the word “poll” they automatically think of political polls (typically run by Gallup, Harris, Ipsos, et al.), even more so this year in the US & France; both countries have upcoming presidential elections and poll results are constantly in the media.
After some investigation, meeting with experienced market researchers and attending some conferences (most recently, the Printemps des Etudes, in Paris), it seems the polltogo platform could be a good fit in certain types of studies; in particular, quantitative studies designed to have a mobile component, but also certain types of qualitative market research, such as those using a random probability sampling approach.
The polltogo platform fits in between SMS, which has limited possibility for interactivity, and native applications, such as iPhone apps, in which the sky is the limit in terms of functionality, but which are inherently limited to one device family and require an app download as a prerequisite for participation. As one market researcher recently told his conference audience: “Apps are problematic. It’s best to use a multi-platform solution.” Being cross-platform, or platform agnostic if you prefer, has been the mission of polltogo from day one. It sometimes means sacrificing whiz-bang graphics and spending time testing on older, so-called “feature phones”, but it’s worth it! When a potential participant is prompted to particpate in a mobile poll, whether via a QR code, a link on a mobile website, or with a URL sent by SMS, it has to work.
The other reason, it turns out, that polltogo could be ideal for certain types of market research is the platform’s ability to ensure that submissions are only accepted from participants within a predefined, precise geographical location (patent pending; not yet available on the public-facing polltogo implementation).
Sounds interesting? Drop us a note.
My Inspirapps co-founder, Ralph, was asked by the LeWeb conference organizers to tell his story about how our little startup and polltogo can trace its origins to last year’s big LeWeb event. He came as a PhD student from Toronto to LeWeb’10… Well, I’ll let him tell you the story on the LeWeb blog!
The fun part with polltogo is that even if it’s primarily targeted at speakers, teachers, event organizers, speakers, etc., i.e. people who need to interact with their audience live, it can also prove useful in many other situations. One usage we did not really anticipate when we started working on polltogo: offering visitors the possibility of leaving their impression and comments while standing in front of a piece of art when visiting a museum or an art gallery/show.
That is precisely what two French galleries recently did on several occasions. The first one, the BAM Gallery in Toulouse (in the South of France), had an exhibition dedicated to QR Codes — quite logically, they used QR codes to link to their polltogo polls. The second gallery is located in Paris: the famous Galerie W, in the Abesses area.
Galerie W is also taking part in an art event by the Seine called “Chic Today” and has chosen to use polltogo for two of their pieces: one is a live comic strip (people who face the piece are filmed by a camera and become automatically part of a comic page — like this guy in the photo), and the other one is a huge board that says “Ma langue au chat” which is the French expression to indicate that you don’t know, and can’t guess, the answer to something (i.e., “I give up!”). Galerie W posted QR codes next to both pieces so that visitors can answer a quick poll and leave their comments on the spot. Want to try, even though you’re not there? You can (though it’s not as much fun as being there!) here: p2.gg/zr for the comic strip, and p2.gg/7n for the other one.