Consider the Survey Participant Experience

When I start a research project, I usually begin by thinking about its requirements, along with big issues, such as methodology and audience. But there’s something that’s often a bit overlooked — and equally important — to consider: the survey participant experience.

At its most basic, participant experience is a combination of the questions that are asked and how those questions are displayed. Survey display affects data quality in a lot of ways. If you want high-quality, authentic data, don't underestimate the way in which participants interact with your survey.

From the Global Research Business Network:

“Great UX is vital to capturing quality data in the actual survey itself, as higher engagement throughout the survey itself means more thoughtful responses, more effort put into open responses, lower chance of people ‘speeding’ through or randomly selecting things if the question seems too confusing, etc. Essentially, better UX means better data quality.”

survey experience and the impact on data quality and research ROI

Think mobile first

There’s a basic fact about internet research: Mobile has become the dominant device type for online survey respondents. There’s no reason to believe that fact will ever subside. Roughly 2/3 of Feedback Loop’s survey traffic comes from mobile users, and that number is increasing daily. Mobile meets survey participants where they are, giving more consistent access to a diverse set of participants. 

Designing and building for mobile first doesn’t mean sacrificing the desktop experience, but it does mean aligning product development efforts with mobile platforms always top of loop's mobile-first survey participant experience

The goal in developing a mobile-first experience is to create a survey that is incredibly easy to use, focusing on how comfortable it is for a participant to answer questions and progress through the survey. Here are some examples of ways to make it easier for people to respond to your surveys:

  • Eliminate unnecessary text where a signifier in the design feature might suffice, such as radio buttons for single select questions, or checkboxes for multi-select.
  • On a grid question, advance the participant to the next scale automatically. 
  • Design a rank question to be more accessible through the use of a keypad, removing complex and confusing interactions on mobile screens.

Here at Feedback Loop, we frequently see our users seeking help with discovery and early concept validation. Often, that means presenting survey participants with an image, .gif, or video to provide context and gauge reactions. An embedded experience should ensure participants can view the assets and navigate seamlessly back to the survey. This is especially important for mobile participants, many of whom access surveys in apps, which limit the functionality of their web browsers. A good experience doesn’t force a participant to open a new tab in their browser (as opposed to embedding the stimuli in the survey), which can lead to major issues when they want to resume the survey.

survey experiences built for mobile participantsOpen-text answers are vital to providing qualitative insights, but foundational user testing revealed that participants are often intimidated by the size of the text box — they aren’t sure if they need to fill the entire text box in order to qualify for the survey. To account for this concern, a progressive text box that starts small and grows as they provide more information gives implicit permission. It allows for inclusion of participants who don’t have much to say, as well as those who have more robust responses. 

Build for the holistic experience

Surveys are dynamic experiences that vary for each participant, and it’s important to consider the cohesive end-to-end experience during creation. Best practices include using signposts and words of encouragement throughout  the survey to guide the participant along the way. To give the participant a sense of continuity and structure, Feedback Loop uses subtle animation at key points to clearly indicate the beginning, middle, and end. This structure can adapt to surveys of varying lengths.

Of course, in any kind of survey, question quality matters — a lot. At Feedback Loop, we control the quality of questions we ask by offering best-in-class survey templates and ongoing collaboration with our in-house research team. Our customers can choose to customize a pre-vetted template to meet their research needs, or they can collaborate directly with one of our experienced researchers to align on methodology and write questions to meet their unique objectives.

To find out more about how we can help your team, book a demo today.

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