“The spark to create something related to polling initially came about when I recalled the excitement web polls brought to me back in school, especially when they were based on topics such as the hottest girl or the best couple in school.
I was able to think of polls as a solution to my frustrations of not being able to reach consensus when it comes to discussions and seeking opinion among friends. Everyone has their own views but results were often not consolidated,” said Jack Lee, the founder of Pollbook. “When I dug deeper into the concepts of polling, I realised it could also potentially be a meaningful tool to help businesses or professionals gather quick feedback.”
Inspired by this train of thought he created Pollbook in 2014, a standalone app for polling that’s available on both the App Store and the Play Store. Jack mentioned in an interview with Vulcan Post that individuals and businesses alike could use this app to gather feedback with ease and in a casual manner.
Users on this platform are equipped to conduct quick market research, perform A/B Testing, settle bar bets and to validate ideas that may enable them to gain a better understanding of people’s preferences and the overall trends of a given market.
Even though they’ve been operational for almost 2 years, Jack highlighted that they wanted to focus more on gathering feedback from their user base, which they could in turn use to enhance the app. They recently rolled out a major update on their app that includes new features such as rewards and incentives, anonymous mode, results hiding, boost respondents, @ tagging system, article polling and much more.
“Recently, we also launched private poll features that allows users to gather feedback from non-pollbookers beyond Pollbook on platforms such as WhatsApp, email and so on,” he added.
Despite operating covertly for close to two years, Pollbook has been collectively downloaded 17,000 times on both iOS and Android.
The App’s Mechanics
Interested users can create either a business or an individual account on the app, and they could even choose to sign in with their Facebook credentials. Once they get past the authentication process, they are then free to scroll through the list of polls and vote for the options that they’d like. One of the first things that users will end up noticing is that the app displays the polls in a very Facebook-like manner.
You have a scrollable list of suggested Pollbookers on the top, who you can choose to follow. You could then scroll through the polls and choose to respond to them in very much the same way, as you would to a post on your news feed. The only difference between the two is that Pollbook is built around the concept of gathering people’s opinions based on a predefined set of choices whereas Facebook allows individuals to express themselves more freely and openly.
Even though both apps are entirely different, building a community-driven app or platform by borrowing familiar design concepts from other well-established platforms makes good sense, as users are not expected to relearn an entirely new way of navigating and communicating with the components of an app.
While I took a short time to familiarise myself with the different features of the app, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of polls that were present on my feed. In most cases, variety is the spice of life but when it comes to content it quickly becomes quite clumsy and irrelevant. For example, I don’t speak any Chinese dialects, so you can be assured that I won’t be interested in answering polls that are written in a language I don’t comprehend.
Furthermore the app doesn’t categorise its polls, and so as a questioner you can be assured that you’ll be polling a diverse crowd. Also, I believe that some people would prefer to target their polls towards a more controlled niche, and I believe people will also enjoy voting on things that they have a vested interest in.
However on the plus side, you also get rewarded with credits for answering both general and sponsored polls that you can later redeem for rewards right through the app. The rewards range from food discounts, beauty products, beauty accessories, book cash vouchers, discounts on e-commerce sites, and more.
In order to redeem those rewards though, you’d have to be a frequent user of the app to collect coins and jewels from various actions such as writing a post, voting on someone else’s post, liking a post, following a pollbooker, voting on a sponsored post, etc.
So personally, if I really want to make my way towards a reward, I’d just select an option on polls that I don’t understand, collect the coin/jewel, and keep on moving.
While creating a basic poll on the app is free, you can also make use of the paid features that can help you reach a greater audience. Pollbook’s paid features charge users on a per respondent basis, for example, you’ll only be charged per individual if you decide to boost a poll.
Getting The Content Right
After figuring out the general mechanics of how the app works, I decided to create a quick (and free) poll to see how well it’d fare within the community. The experience of creating a poll is quite streamlined and once you post it up, you will be notified as and when you get responses. I decided to turn off the notifications for the app because it was very frequent and borderline annoying, however, I got what I wanted at the end of the day.
While I’m usually weary of downloading stand-alone apps for each aspect of my social life as it means that I’d now have to pay attention to a new set of notifications, Pollbook was decently entertaining and fun at first.
However, I feel that the app loses out in providing an engaging experience when it comes down to the content itself, as most of it is irrelevant to my personal interests. I end up having to scroll for a long time to find a poll that I’d be genuinely interested in answering, which is not the best experience users would like to have.
Currently, the app is working towards fulfilling its vision of empowering people to gather feedback at any time, and from anywhere. Jack mentioned that they’re doing this by evolving in parallel as both a tool and a community to achieve that vision.
“While community is merely one of the means, we envisage Pollbook offering more solutions beyond just an app in the future to help people gather feedback. Be it a web plugin or a newsletter polling tool, Pollbook aims to explore alternative means to become a full-fledged feedback aggregations solution provider,” Jack proclaimed.
In order to do so, I feel that they need to build on top of the scaffold that they already have and they need to find a way to distribute relevant content to their users. Even though Pollbook’s main focus is on polling and feedback gathering, it’s still a content-driven app. And let’s face it, at the end of the day content-driven apps are only as good as the content they create and distribute.