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SurveyMonkey Hackathon: Episode IV

SurveyMonkey Hackathon: Episode IV

Not that long ago in the SurveyMonkey headquarters of Palo Alto in a galaxy not far away at all…

Ok, so we can dial back on the epic space saga just a little bit but not because the fourth episode of our SurveyMonkey Hackathon was any less epic. Quite the contrary. This year, we had over double the number of entrants from last year with 25 teams participating–our biggest turnout yet. Along with the usual suspects from our Engineering and Product teams, it was pretty exciting to see some innovation-minded folks from our Survey Research, Audience, Customer Ops and Legal departments all wanting in on the Hackathon fun as well.

Hackathon 2014

Each time we do this, we always ask ourselves how we can top the previous Hackathon. And somehow each time, our participants continue to one-up themselves in terms of sheer inventiveness and originality.

Here are just a few of the event’s highlights.

Funnel Cakes (Voted Best of Hackathon)

Team Funnel Cakes implemented a popular request by our SurveyMonkey Audience team. Funneling, or advanced question piping, falls under the umbrella category of advanced question logic. The hack allows the survey creator to ask a series of questions where answer choices are based on what answers were selected by the survey taker in a previous question. Let’s take a quick look at an example. Say that you’re about to send out a brand awareness survey. Typically, your first question might be more general. For instance, “Which of the following brands have you heard of?” with multiple choice answer options.  Your second question then might be, “Which of the following have you purchased in the past 30 days?” again with multiple choice answer options. This time, the next question would only display the answer choices that were selected by your survey respondent from the previous question. Finally, your last question might be, “Of the brands that you have purchased, which is your favorite?” You would now only have a single answer choice option that was funneled in from the previous question. This hack allows survey creators to ask progressively more specific questions and then customize the answer choices that follow.

Quantum Leap (Judge’s Award)

Four engineers, with the guidance of the Survey Research team, enhanced our Analyze and Survey Summary tools by building in functionality to indicate the statistical significance of the data gathered. They added in the ability to compare sets of filters together. Customers currently have the option to compare just one filter or they can apply multiple filters but they can’t do both. Using formulas normally used in leap tables–dynamic, interactive cross-tabs–this hack would allow customers to compare results across the different filter groups in Analyze and see which data points are noteworthy. For the Survey Summary tool, similar formulas were used to highlight key differences in survey data.

Hackathon 2014

Stick of Truth

This team focused their hack efforts on our Analyze platform and on “Driver Analysis” specifically. Adding this feature in Analyze provides the user with a snapshot of the survey’s response health across specified areas. This solves a huge pain point for customers trying to get insights from surveys with a variety of question topics.  For example, the Employee Engagement template has 42 questions but there’s no easy way to extract high level insights by briefly looking at those 42 questions in Analyze. With their hack, customers would now be able to categorize questions into natural “Driver” groupings (ex. Career Development, Benefits) and quantify answer options. The Driver Analysis then provides a quantified synopsis by the specific Driver group.

The SurveyMonkey Hackathons continue to be not only a great team-building event but they also help keep our startup culture intact. We’re really excited by the cool new features and ideas that came out of this Hackathon. While there can be a substantial period of time that exists between getting features that were created in a single caffeine-fueled day out into the world, we’re working on moving the best ideas forward and incorporating into our product.

Craig models his hack--Analyze Hat--a wearable device programmed to count survey responses.

Craig models his hack–Analyze Hat–a wearable device programmed to count survey responses.

Stay tuned and Happy Hackathon!

Questions, comments about any of these hacks? Let us know below!

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