About half of all online survey participants are choosing to take surveys on mobile devices. The same person might take a survey on a mobile phone in the morning on the train to work, a survey on a laptop from the office or a survey using a tablet at home in the evening. Some rarely or never use PCs or laptops at all. Using mobile doesn’t equate to taking surveys on the go; many people take surveys at home, but choose tablets and mobile phones rather than laptops to do so.
This should come as no surprise if we think about how we all read e-mails today – increasingly on mobile devices, not on PCs and laptops.
Yet our industry hasn’t responded to the preferences of our participants – even though we frequently describe these people as the “lifeblood” of research. Up to 50% of the surveys we see are still not mobile-friendly. When we field non-mobile-friendly surveys at SSI, we exclude people on mobile devices because we don’t want to deliver a frustrating experience to our panelists, and we don’t want to risk delivering poor data to our customers. The dangers to the data of completing a non-mobile survey on a mobile device are many (learn more about the risks here). For example, imagine a scale where the respondent has to scroll to see all the options, or where part of a question or an image is cut off. Fielding a survey with so many participants “missing” from the sample is obviously a concern. Our goal is to make every questionnaire device agnostic.
Why does questionnaire design lag so far behind participants’ preferences? Perhaps updating to a mobile-friendly design seems daunting, or there is a belief that mobile questionnaires must be less than five minutes long.
The truth is that a few simple steps can effectively upgrade a questionnaire to become mobile-friendly. While we encourage shorter surveys, longer ones work on mobile devices if well-designed.
Here are 10 tips to make your questionnaire mobile-friendly:
- Start with the small screen first and scale up.
- Design the functional elements first, that is anything people must touch on the screen: buttons, boxes, arrows. Make them as large as possible with space around them to avoid mis-clicks.
- Make text boxes as large as possible – when there’s more space, people type more words.
- Design for both vertical and horizontal view – people have their own preferences.
- Remove or redesign Flash elements.
- Minimize or eliminate the need for scrolling and pinching.
- Use 7-point or shorter scales.
- Reorganize grids into individual elements. There are templates, such as “carousel” designs to achieve this.
- Minimize the number of words used – reducing paragraphs to their essential elements.
- Test your questionnaire across multiple devices: phone, tablet, laptop and PC.
It’s time to make the switch to device agnostic surveys. Your sample and data collection provider can help. Many have templates, tools to test your questionnaire, and advice to help rescue your questionnaire from the pre-digital dark ages.
Jackie Lorch is Vice President of Global Knowledge Management at SSI.