Case Study: How Small Business Trends Used QuestionPro to Help Choose Best Business Books of 2009

imageWhen Anita Campbell, editor of the award-winning online publication Small Business Trends,  decided to expand her “Best Business Book Awards,” QuestionPro was the obvious answer.

The 2009 first Best Business Books were really chosen by the editors (Anita and I) with some input from out community.  In 2009, Anita wanted more reader and expert input into our business book choices.sDDDDDD Besides, it was so hard to pick the top books that we wanted more opinions to help us choose.

We decided to use QuestionPro as a way to allow our readers to vote.  I’m going to share some of our insights into this process, what we learned and what kind of feedback we got from the community.

The Picture Layout Challenge

We quickly decided that our survey would be primarily one multiple choice question – where readers could pick up to 5 choices for their favorite books.  Then, I had the bright idea of actually using pictures of the books in the question accompanied by the author’s name as text AND a link to either our book review or to where they could read about the book.


It wasn’t hard to do, but it was rather tedious:

  1. Find the pictures you want to use and make sure that they are exactly the same pixel size.
  2. Determine how many lines of text you’d like to use – and stick to it.  We decided that we could only have 2 lines of text.
  3. Upload the pictures using the multimedia button at the top of the edit survey page.
  4. Add a multiple choice question where you can choose more than one answer.image
  5. Now this is where you will need some very basic HTML skills.  I know EXTREMELY little HTML and I was able to do this.image

Now the challenge that took at least a couple of hours was figuring out how to make the books line up nice and straight.  The way to do this is to click on “edit question” and then head over to “settings.”  This is where I found these terrific options of laying out the choices in columns:


One thing to keep in mind is that your “answers choices” – in my case, the pictures, are going to be formated and look something like this:

1   4

2   5

3  6


1   2   3

4   5   6

This may not seem like a big deal – until you decide that you want to insert more pictures or if some of your text can’t be edited down to 2 lines.  All of these things happened to us and caused for about an hour of tweaking.


Ultimately, the project was a wild success!  Small Business Trends was able to include over 2900 reader votes into its Best Business Books choices.  We also created another survey where experts were able to contribute their votes to the editor’s picks.  Once the first survey was done, we simply copied it and made some tweaks to customize it.

This has to be THE MOST creative way I’ve used QuestionPro so far.  The staff was amazing in helping me work out the kinks and tweak the settings in order to get fantastic results.

As the book editor for Small Business Trends, I want to thank QuestionPro for their support through this project.

About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.   You can reach her directly at