Using Polls: From Info Gathering to Collaborative Storytelling
Recently, LouAnn talked about creating a form on your blog to engage with your readers — to ask for feedback or guide your discussions. Today, let’s chat about adding a poll, which is another interactive way to gather information from your site visitors.
WordPress.com is integrated with a popular poll service called Polldaddy, so you can create a poll right in your dashboard. When you create a poll, you ask one multiple-choice question and create predefined answers from which your readers can choose. The feature is quite handy if you’re looking for specific feedback and want your readers to weigh in on a discussion. You can add a poll to a post, page, or even your sidebar — and configure its settings to suit your needs.
Examples of polls on WordPress.com
Bloggers use polls in different ways. Writer Alaina Mabaso wrote a candid, thorough list of 10 non-fatalistic, real-life tips for freelance writers that approaches freelance writing with common sense. At the end of the post, she uses a poll to gauge whether her tips were helpful or not:
So, a poll can be a straightforward way to collect feedback from your readers — in this instance, to see what works and what doesn’t.
Editor and linguist Stan Carey uses polls to inform his own research and work. Over at his blog, Sentence first, he explores the history, usage, and quirks of the English language, and his discussions on its evolution — especially in this digital age — are provoking and entertaining.
In a recent post on GIFs, he asked his readers: How do you pronounce GIF?
Adding this multiple-choice question to his post is a simple way to compile responses — and allows readers to interact in this discussion du jour. And if you’re curious, as of this writing, 65.93 percent of this poll’s voters agree that GIF is pronounced with a hard g, as you can see in the results (which Stan has opted to display after a reader casts a vote):
Photographer Ming Thein has a comprehensive site for photography, full of commentary, photo essays, tutorials, reviews, and more. Ming leads workshops, and recently added polls to a post to ask readers their location preferences for upcoming sessions in Europe.
He includes two polls: one to gauge interest for workshops in various cities, from Prague to Munich, and a second one underneath for voters to specify a time during the fall. Here, you can see how a poll can be extremely helpful in project planning and logistics.
Getting creative with collaborative storytelling
I loved reading the Choose Your Own Adventure stories when I was a kid. It was so cool to be able to decide what the brave adventurer did next. Writing a story gives me the same kind of control, but writing is a solitary activity. I have been brainstorming writing activities that have collaborative input. This is going to be our trial run together.
In the post, she introduced the characters — a determined engineer, an idealistic scientist, and a surly engineering supervisor — and created three separate polls so her readers could vote on each character’s name. It’s a clever and focused way to encourage collaboration:
How to create a poll
To create and add a poll to a post or page, click on the “Add Poll” icon when you’re in edit mode — the circular icon between the “Add Media” and “Add Contact Form” buttons.
If you’ve never used the poll feature before, you’ll be prompted to create a new account or import an existing Polldaddy account. Choose the option that’s appropriate for you, then click on the “Add New” button near the top.
You’ll now see the “Add New Poll” screen with various modules to configure:
On this screen, you’ll see a field at the top to name your poll. Below, you’ll see these modules:
- Answers: Insert the poll’s predefined answers in the fields (or click “Add New Answer” to add a new field).
- Poll Style: Use the left and right arrows to sift through a slideshow of styles.
- Save: An assortment of options, including the ability to randomize the answer order, allow other answers, and allow voters to choose more than one answer (under “multiple choice”).
- Results Display: Set whether you would like the results public or hidden (or show percentages only).
- Repeat Voting: Apply settings to block repeat voters (by cookie or by cookie and IP address).
- Comments: Adjust setting for comment moderation.
Configure each option to suit your needs. When you’re finished, click the blue “Save Poll” button, and a message will appear at the top confirming that your poll has been created:
Click the “Embed in Post” button to insert the poll into your post or page.
As with any draft, you can click “Preview” to view this new poll to ensure all looks fine, before you hit “Publish.”
Extras — What else can you do?
- To insert an existing poll, just click on the circular “Add Poll” icon to see a list of your existing polls.
- To add a poll to your sidebar, use a Text Widget. In your dashboard, go to Feedbacks → Polls, and you’ll see a list of any polls you’ve created. Hover over the appropriate poll in the list, and among the options that appear, click on the “Embed & Link” button. Copy the code in the “WordPress Shortcode” field at the top left. You can then paste this code into a new Text Widget in your sidebar under Appearance → Widgets.
You’ve just learned how to create a new poll for your blog! Let us know if you plan to add a poll to an upcoming post — or if you already use polls on your site.