Article #50: Rogator 2000 web interviewing

Tim Macer looks at a new web interviewing tool that makes setting up your own surveys easier than ever

An easy net answer

 

Of all the innovative technology on display at last October's Research Show, one of the most interesting was Rogator 2000, a Java-based web interviewing tool from the relatively new German player, Rogator AG.
Rogator has developed an extremely intuitive interface that will have you writing questions and answers without needing to look at the manual. Double-clicking a question opens it up for editing, and a series of tabs provide access to the various aspects of the question - answers, appearance, validation and so on. Setting up routing is about as straightforward as it could be, consisting of selecting questions and answers from drop-down lists. The routing is also fairly powerful, allowing several conditions to be set up as criteria for a given question.
You can preview the appearance of your screens immediately, but to test the logic, it is necessary to upload the survey to the web. Although this isn't complicated or time-consuming, it does make testing more of an effort than it should be.
Where Rogator 2000 really stands out is in its use of Javascript. This creates a very web-like feel for the surveys, and makes tricks such as animated buttons, mouseovers and on-screen sliders possible, with no technical knowledge. Multimedia integration is also effortless: multiple images, sounds or movie clips can be brought together onto any screen.
Sampling is managed through the integrated RogMailer program that handles personalised invitations and password generation. Alternatively, you can set the survey to 'pop up'. All you have to do is choose the words for the pop-up page and set the frequency and the total to collect.
Rogator 2000 also shines when it comes to online reporting, with a wealth of completion statistics and basic information available, though Rogator does not offer a cross-tab tool. For analysis, you will need to use another triple-S compatible reporting package.
Rogator 2000: pros and cons
Pros
Intuitive interface
Excellent multimedia support
Attractive Javascript-enabled questionnaires
Very good manual in English
Cons
One question per screen only
No overview of questionnaire flow
Advanced features are limited

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'It simple is a very straightforward thing to do if you are familiar with research'

When it comes to more advanced features, like presenting more than one question on a screen or concealing subsets of answer lists that do not apply, the limits of the design tool begin to show. Some capabilities are only available by writing code snippets, though Rogator is working to add all these to the graphical interface in due course.
Overall, aside from one or two seeming omissions, such as changing the order of your questions, or being able to see an overview of your routing logic, Rogator 2000 provides an extremely productive environment for those wishing to administer web surveys for themselves.
Internet-based employment agency JobPilot makes extensive use of market research to investigate job seekers using its web portal services. Gero Grandisch, JobPilot's Business Intelligence Manager, was convinced that it should be possible to field his own surveys without always having to use a research agency.
'We came to Rogator via one of our market research agencies that uses the techonolgy', he said. 'Rogator sent us the software and the manual. I didn't even need a run through. It simply is a very straightforward thing to do if you are familiar with research.'
While JobPilot could place the surveys on their own server, Grandisch prefers to upload his surveys to Rogator's. 'It's really quite easy. Using their server has the nice advantage that if I have

any difficulty, I call them and they sort it out. I think the software does a good job for standard questionnaires. In some ways, it is limited - you are not really free to create you own survey from a graphical point of view, but what you can do is quite sufficient.'
JobPilot operates in 17 different countries and is able to use Rogator to set up multinational and multilingual surveys where response rates have been consistently high. 'We are very pleased with the information we get. The high response rates give this a lot of validity. It makes me feel better than a methodologically correct approach when you only get 25 completes'
JobPilot's use of Rogator is challenging the role of the traditional MR agency in other ways too. Now largely displaced from the routine survey activities, agencies are instead asked to approve the methodology and give their authority to the surveys. While this may seem a meagre feast, the agencies JobPilot works with do get the chance to do a more in-depth survey when JobPilot's own surveys reveal something that is intriguing or mysterious and deserves closer and more comprehensive investigation.
To Gero Grandisch, the real benefit of Rogator is the immediacy. 'With this tool, nothing stops you from putting out a few questions tomorrow so you can really base your decision-making on the opinions out there'.

Rogator AG: www.rogator.de

Tim Macer writes as an independent specialist in software for market research. His website is at www.meaning.uk.com

Additional reporting from Andrew Walford


Published in Research, the magazine of the Market Research Society, February 2001, Issue 417.

© Copyright Tim Macer/Market Research Society 2001. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

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