Design your survey carefully

Design your survey carefully

Online surveys are one of the most effective tools in reaching out to your potential target market or audience. They’re designed to collect information that helps achieve your businesses goals; whether it be testing public perception on a new product, analyzing employee morale or researching your competition.

Irrespective of how you approach your survey and what its purpose is, it is important to design a survey that’s both easily accessible and visually appealing to the respondents. This involves taking into consideration factors such as:

  • Overall look and feel of a survey: Aspects that are relevant to the user experience, including flow of text, page transitions, question/answer format and overall structure.
  • Visual appearance: What colors are used, choice of text, backgrounds, banners and more.
  • Pacing and flow of questions: A good survey should have a balance of different question types throughout the process. A constant stream of one question type (eg. pages of multiple-choice questions) can frustrate or bore respondents, which can result in rushed responses, early dropouts and inaccurate data.
  • Branding: Decide what is considered reasonable in regards to branding. Excessive branding can warrant biased responses or early dropouts.
  • Understanding the audience: Knowing your target audience will influence the right choice of colors, format and structure, so as to cater towards their taste and preferences.
  • Reviewing and testing: Implemented before a survey is publicly released, in order to correct errors and make adjustments.

This article will go through the basic concepts that will assist you in designing a visually appealing survey, which will provide your respondents with a visually appealing and user-friendly survey experience.

Overall look and feel

The overall look of your survey will be heavily influenced by the purpose of your survey and who the respondents will be. It will also be important to decide if your survey will feature the company or brand you’re representing, whether it be through the presence of a logo or a color scheme that matches the company profile. If you wish to remain neutral and present an unbiased image, then a ‘generic’ approach to your survey may be the best idea.

Optimizing the user experience is an important aspect of designing your survey. This is achieved through a careful balance of question types, including multiple-choice, short-answer and long-answer questions.

Too much emphasis on a single question type can become repetitive and tiresome for some, as respondents may feel they’re not being challenged (often the case with multiple-choice questionnaires) or that they’re being too drained of their time and energy (a common problem with excessive long-answer questions). Achieve the right balance through testing your survey and revising regularly until a satisfactory flow has been established.

Visual appearance and color

When producing an online survey, it is important to establish a visually appealing color scheme for your respondents. Color is used regularly by companies in order to establish a theme that matches their brand or image, along with triggering emotional responses or actions from their customers.

Each color can signify different meanings between people. For example, red is often associated with excitement or action, which is often applied to persuade impulse purchases or decisions. Green is commonly associated with health, nature or growth, while black or white can be used to present balance and neutrality.

While these factors are quite broad and subjective between respondents, understanding your target audience will assist in making the right choice for your color scheme.

Pacing and structure

The flow of your survey should allow respondents to be given the time and space to carefully answer questions, without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted during the process. Try to avoid having too many questions on a single page, as this can produce clutter and affect the overall look of your survey.

For short-answer and long-answer questions, be sure to provide either an expandable text box or appropriate word limit that gives respondents enough space to write detailed answers. Be cautious though, as giving too much freedom to write may result in answers with too much information. This may involve the tiresome process of reading through every single response and analyzing their feedback, which can be time consuming in the event of receiving hundreds, if not thousands of survey responses.

Good pacing and structure should consider the right balance between question types and implementing page breaks that don’t interrupt the flow of the survey (many online survey providers allow you to manually insert page breaks).

Pacing and structure

Branding

If your survey is representing a company or organization, you may want to incorporate that into your survey design. This may be achieved through a consistent color scheme, presence of a logo or featuring other relevant images associated with your brand.

This can be beneficial if you’re looking to establish brand recognition among your target audience, however, it should not be used to persuade or influence their perspective on the questions being asked. Excessive branding should be avoided, as it may come across as overbearing and will negatively reflect how your target audience perceives your brand.

If you do not wish for your branding to impact the results of the survey, consider a neutral style or design that your target market will find appealing. This will likely guarantee the most accurate results from your survey and ensure you’ll receive unbiased answers from your respondents.

Reviewing and testing

Once you’ve developed a survey that satisfies these criteria’s, test it out before you launch publicly. Have a selection of test respondents (who were not involved in the survey creation process) to take your survey, and give them a platform to provide comments and feedback. Ideally, your test recipients should represent a small margin of your desired target audience, however, this isn’t always necessary.

Act upon their feedback and suggestions, then have them take your survey again. Repeat this process until your test respondents are satisfied with the quality of the survey. Be sure to test your survey on multiple devices as well, including smart phones and tablet devices (along with their associated systems, either iOS and/or Android). This will deliver the most user-friendly experience for all participants, regardless of what device they use.

By Øyvind Forsbak


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