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Confirmit 9.0 reviewed

High-end player Confirmit has launched a new version. Tara Jayne O'Hara and Tim Macer report.

Has anyone else ever sent out 5,000 email invitations containing a link to a non-functioning survey? A ‘friend’ of mine once did, and with a sinking feeling in her stomach (so she tells me) vowed never to repeat the experience. Hitting the send button to launch an online survey is always a nerve-wracking moment, but at least with ConfirmIt 9.0 you (and ‘my friend’), can feel more confident that everything will work as it should.

In developing Confirmit 9.0, FIRM were aiming to make using the tool more productive for its users (not to mention shoring up their own investment in the product and heading off a few criticisms, of course). The result, to their credit, is a better-performing system that’s much more intuitive to use.

For users, it brings a completely redesigned interface, improvements to existing features and the introduction of a whole host of new ones

Comforts and headaches

Many of the benefits over 8.5 become apparent when programming questionnaires. The new interface makes for easier and speedier navigation, largely thanks to the quick access pane on the left hand side, and some ground-breaking initiatives such as the instantaneous global switch between test and production modes and the ability to view and use any objects from other projects.

However, the new symbols in the questionnaire tree could probably bring on a migraine, and my initial attempt to locate an existing questionnaire took an embarrassing number of minutes. (For the record, you can do it via a dropdown menu straight from the project ID in the project list.)

Other welcome aids and valuable timesavers in the survey authoring tool include full WYSIWYG formatting. This eliminates having to use any native HTML code, which was a pain in previous versions. There is now the ability to filter the questionnaire tree to focus on the type of object you are interested in, and you can also set properties for a group of questions together, instead of having to do them one at a time. There is also handy tool that pinpoints your current place in a long questionnaire tree. Block rotation/randomisation is now supported, for where bias is an issue. And last but not least, there is a save button that flashes to remind you when you’ve changed something, so you don’t forget to commit your work to the database and find it has all vanished when you next go in.

Before going live

Confirmit 9.0 also addresses pre-deployment testing. A Random Data Generator can be used to create made-up responses in the test database by simulating real interview runs that follow the survey logic and return random, valid answers to each question. This cuts down on the time required for manual testing, as well as making it easier to spot those often elusive scripting or logic errors simply by viewing the data and looking for the gaps.

        

 

Gaining a quick overview view of the data has also been made much easier with a new results tab. This feature, quickly accessed through the questionnaire designer, provides a handy way to investigate dummy data, or to check top line results once a survey is live.

Previously, testing could be a slow process due to the need to recompile the database and generate the web interview each time. Now these activities have been divorced. Though a relatively minor alteration, this is another feature that can save valuable minutes.

 

New data format

When the time comes for data analysis and reporting, 9.0 again helps us along the way. Reportal bitstream, a new data format intended for use when running queries on large data sets, is a key improvement in this respect. Conversion to the new data format can be set as a recurring task, so that new and modified survey data is incrementally added to the bitstream files, thus speeding up the process. On continuous surveys or anything with large sample sizes, reports which could previously have ground to a halt can now be processed quite quickly. Other new reporting features include the ability to clear response data, and the possibility of including aggregated results or other fixed numbers (e.g. targets) into aggregated tables.

ConfirmIt 9.0 is a clear improvement over its forerunner. However, this remains a complex piece of software that demands considerable specialist knowledge, and therefore the investment of significant time and resource, if you are going to fully reap its benefits.

Tara Jayne O'Hara is research manager at Egg Banking plc

Published in Research, the magazine of the Market Research Society, February 2005, Issue 465.

© Copyright meaning ltd/Market Research Society 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

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