Add a Survey

How to Set Up Surveys in WordPress and Engage Your Visitors

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

One way to get an idea about the kind of audience your site receives is to set up a survey. The hardest part is getting people to take the poll. Today, I’ll show you how to add a survey to WordPress and ways you can engage visitors.

It’s actually a fairly easy and free process. It just takes a bit of your time and imagination for the questions to ask your guests.

Adding a Survey to WordPress

For this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to install and set up Democracy Poll. It’s a simple plugin that has quite a few customizable options for creating just about any kind of a survey.

I’ve used it on several websites including this one. And if you’re worried about caching, this plugin supports tools like WP Total Cache, WordFence, and more.

1. Install Democracy Poll

Go to Plugins and click, “Add New.”

Add New

Using the search field, look for “Democracy Poll.”

Democracy Poll

Install and activate the plugin.

Install Democracy Poll

2. Adjust Your Settings

Now that Democracy Poll is installed, it’s time to adjust its settings.

Go to Settings and click, “Democracy Poll.”

Democracy Poll Settings

By default, the plugin will automatically add a sample poll to your list. It’s not used anywhere on your site, but it can give you an idea about what the survey will look like once you create one.

In this tutorial, I’m going to start with the primary settings of the plugin. Though, you can do it in any order you wish.

Click the “Settings” tab located along the top of the screen.

Survey Settings Tab

In this section, you can control a variety of elements. For instance, you can:

  • Choose to log data and visitor IP addresses – Helps prevent people from voting more than once.
  • The number of days you want to keep cookies activated – If you plan on doing one poll per month, setting this to 30 days would be more ideal.
  • Global poll options – Lets you control how all surveys on your site behave, such as not showing poll results or hiding the poll button.
  • Others – Has various conditions for setting styles, showing the plugin on the WordPress admin toolbar, showing the copyright, or activating the Democracy Poll widget.

For the sake of this tutorial, the only setting I’m going to change is the number of days to keep cookies alive. It’s my intention to launch a new one-month poll. And I don’t want return visitors to be prevented from future surveys.

Click the “Save Options” button after you’ve made any adjustments in the Settings tab.

Save Poll Options

3. Change the Theme Settings

The Theme Settings screen is where you can change the poll’s appearance on your website. This is so you can create an aesthetically pleasing layout according to your overall design.

Click the “Theme Settings” tab.

Theme Settings

Here, you can change the color of the background, select the theme type, adjust how the progress line appears, select the radio box type (if you’ll use one later), select the voting button appearance, choose an AJAX Loader image, or edit your own CSS styles.

Once you made your selections and clicked the “Save All Changes” button at the bottom, the top example will adjust to show you what your default polls will look like on the site.

Survey Example

Make as many adjustments as you need to find the perfect look for your survey.

4. Make Text Changes (optional)

Text Changes is completely optional. It lets you adjust what text is shown by default within the poll. You can leave these as-is, or add your own verbiage.

Click on the “Texts changes” tab.

Texts Changes

In this section, you’ll see a list of text the plugin uses for polls. On the left is the original text, and you can enter your own in the “variant” fields on the right.

For example, you could put “You’ve done this before” as a variant to “Already voted.”

Text Variants

Once you’re done changing all of the texts to your liking, just click the “Save Text” button at the bottom.

Remember, though, this is completely optional. You can leave these as they are if you’d like.

5. Create Your First Survey

With the global settings out of the way, it’s time to make our first survey. Here’s where the real fun begins. It’s helpful if you have an idea about what you want to ask and a list of answers beforehand.

Click the “Add new poll” tab.

Add New Poll

Add your question to the “Question” field.

Add Question

Add the answers you want visitors to choose from.

NOTE: Every time you click into the last field for an answer, a new one will appear underneath. Leave the last one blank to end the list of questions.

Add Answers

Decide whether to allow users to add their own answers or not. For this poll, I only want the four answers available. So, I’m going to uncheck this box.

Users Submit Answers

Behavior Options

The next section is all about how you want the survey to behave. You can set:

  • Activate this poll
    This turns the poll on or off. You must check this box to let visitors vote.
  • Allow to choose multiple answers
    By checking this box, you let visitors select more than one answer.
  • Date
    Clicking into this box, you can choose when the poll will end.
  • Allow to change mind (revote)
    In this option, you can let users change their votes.
  • Only registered users allowed to vote
    This option enables voting for only registered users. This means only those visitors who are registered on your website can vote.
  • Allow to watch the results of the poll.
    By default, users can see the results of the survey after they’ve submitted their votes.
  • How to sort the answers during the vote.
    If you leave this as default, the plugin will use the settings you made in the steps above. By default, mine displays the winners at the top.
  • Empty text field.
    At the bottom of this list is an empty text field. You can add any content you want to show at the bottom of the survey.

Once you’re done selecting the options, click the “Save Changes” button.

Save Poll Selections

6. Add Your Survey to the Website

There are two ways you can add a poll to your site: 1) on a post or page, or 2) as a sidebar widget.

I’ll show you both methods.

Use it on a Post or Page

To use your new survey on a post or page, you’ll need the shortcode. This is a small line of coding that needs to be added anywhere you want to show the poll.

You can find this shortcode either on the “Poll List” page or on the “Add new poll” screen if you just finished making it. You can easily highlight the code just by clicking on it with your mouse.

Copy the poll’s shortcode.

Copy Poll Shortcode

Open or create any post or page where you want the survey to appear. In this case, I’m using a specific page I’ve created for showing polls. This way, I can add it to the navigation menu easily.

Add a shortcode block to your post or page.

Shortcode Block

Paste your poll’s shortcode and publish or update the page or post.

Paste Shortcode

Your survey will appear within your content where you placed the shortcode block.

Survey Page

Or Use the Editor

Or, you could also use the built-in editor alternative. This is more convenient than having to go to Democracy Poll and copy the shortcode of the survey you want to paste it into a post or page.

Essentially, it saves you a few steps and is a bit faster to implement.

On a post or page, you’ll have a new option available. If you scroll down on the right, you’ll see the “Attach a poll to the post” option.

Click the box to choose the poll you want to add.

Add Poll to Content

Now, copy the shortcode under the poll.

Survey Shortcode

Paste this shortcode where you want the poll to show in the post or page.

Paste Poll Shortcode

When you publish or update the post or page, the survey will appear.

Use it as a Widget

Democracy Poll also comes with a useful widget to add to your sidebar. This lets you show the poll no matter what page or post visitors are on.

Go to Appearance and click the “Widgets” option.


Drag and drop the Democracy Poll widget into a sidebar of your choosing.

Democracy Poll Widget

You can choose to change the widget title to the poll question if you’d like. You can do this by clicking the checkbox next to “Poll question.”

Using the drop-down tool, pick the poll you want to show in the sidebar. In this case, I’m selecting the one I just made.

Show Poll Widget

Once you click the “Save” button for the widget, it will show your selection anywhere the sidebar is visible on your website.

NOTE: You can add a bit of fun to the experience by showing a random poll each time of all questions that are currently active.

Survey Widget in Sidebar

Themeisle Banner

4 Ways to Get People to Participate

Setting up a survey is the simple part. Getting people to take it is another story altogether. You can have 7,000 people visit your site before someone takes the few, short seconds to answer a question.

In fact, I’m still trying to figure out how to tempt someone to just click two buttons. Below are a few methods that have worked out well for me in the past.

Well, better than no one taking the poll at all, that is.

Using a Current Survey Page

Creating a page for a survey can give visitors an easy way to access the material. Plus, it gives you a landing page that you can share through email subscriptions, social media, or in other posts you might write.

You could even go so far as to market the specific page in advertising campaigns. Though, I suppose that depends on how serious you are about getting some answers.

Using a Popup Lead Generator Plugin

One of the best methods that have helped me generate visits to the survey or giveaway pages is through using popup generators. You can quickly breakdown how the visitor can help with a link to the poll.

For instance, you can use a free builder like Popup Maker. It’s a simple tool with a lot of flexibility for getting your poll in front of more people.

Sharing the Page on Social Media

Once you have your survey page or post created, get some attention to it by submitting the content on social media. Of course, this works much better if you’ve spent a bit of time building a following.

Statistically, about 3% of people who follow my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles visit the content I create and share. I know, it’s not a lot. And I could probably gather more if I spent more time on social media.

My point is that getting your survey out in front of as many people as possible only increases the likelihood of getting more responses and driving additional traffic to your site.

Showing as a Sidebar Widget

As I showed above, the sidebar widget for Democracy Poll works exceptionally well. By adding the widget to your sidebar, you’re making sure every visitor has a chance to submit an answer.

If you use the shortcode method on a post or page, you’re limited to those who specifically visit those pieces of content. 

Understanding Your Audience

A survey can go a very long way to understand your target audience. It’s a way to let them choose the type of content you create for greater engagement. It can also give you a chance to find certain personality traits and a slew of other information.

And Democracy Poll makes it exceptionally easy to gather this information for free.

What kinds of things would you ask your audience?

Michael Brockbank
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