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Recommendations for online surveys on a mobile phone

When creating an online survey, it should be noted that respondents can also access the survey via mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets). According to the research of the American trends of the PEW Research Centre, as many as 27% of respondents completed their last survey via smartphone and 8% via tablet.

Therefore, in answering questions in the survey, mobile respondents should also be taken into account, both in the writing of questions and in ensuring that the questions are correctly displayed regardless of the type of device used by the respondent. If surveys are not adapted to mobile devices, data quality problems may occur, for example, incorrect recording of responses, satisficing, respondents skip questions, etc. If respondents become dissatisfied, mobile respondents are much more likely to interrupt by completing the survey.

In order to avoid these problems, PEW has produced 8 recommendations for creating surveys adapted for filling out via mobile devices:

1. Software must be optimized for mobile devices

Mobile optimization means that the software automatically detects the device used by the respondent, especially the size of the screen, and adjusts the survey’s layout accordingly. Fonts, spaces and buttons should be large enough so that the respondents do not need to enlarge the screen. There should also be no horizontal glide, but it can be vertical.

2. Shorter is better

This concerns both the number of questions and the extent of the issue. The longer the survey, the more likely it is that the respondents will interrupt the fulfilling – the latter applies to all types of surveys, but even more so for surveys via mobile devices. The problem arises because of the small screens of smartphones, which can be solved with shorter questions and answers. It will make it easier for respondents to read and complete the survey and should also improve the quality of the data.

3. Avoid more advanced functions

When creating a survey, it is important that we try to simplify things rather than complicate them by incorporating more advanced functionalities such as sliders and similar. Research shows that respondents on mobile devices have difficulty in correctly using these features as they require a high level of skill. It can also take more time for the respondent than simpler formats. Whenever possible, it is best to use radio buttons, check boxes or text boxes.

4. Avoid the tables

Surveys presented in the form of tables are intended for efficient use of space by creating questions and categories of answers in the table or matrix. However, the use of tables on all devices has certain insufficiencies. For example, researchers have found out that in matrix, respondents often choose the same, usually the middle answer for each item in the matrix, leading to ‘nondifferentiation’ or also the so-called »straightlining«. This problem of data quality is even more distinct on mobile devices, since tables often require horizontal scrolling in addition to vertical scrolling, which can mean that all questions and answers may not be visible at the same time. This can cause respondents to leave the survey.

To avoid the problems associated with the tables, many online survey tools, including 1KA, allow you to adjust the type of table-type questions for mobile devices. More>>

5. More questions on the same screen

Given that mobile survey tables are not ideal it is better to ask more questions on the same screen. In the past, it was very popular for online surveys that every question was on its own page screen. However, due to the slower loading of pages on mobile phones, we may need unnecessary burdens on the respondents. This can be avoided by putting questions about the same topic on the same page or screen.

6. Efficiently utilize the smartphone screen

Smartphones have a limited surface on the screen, making it even more valuable. It is necessary to avoid the insertion of various logos, advertising and graphics (which, in addition, take longer to load the page), as this can saturate the screen. The navigation buttons should be at the bottom of the screen, forcing our respondents to move past all the questions and answer options; so they do not leave out anything.

7. The survey invitation should contain a unique URL

We should not ask respondents to enter the access code or password in order to access the survey. By doing so, we create another obstacle in completing the survey. This especially applies for respondents on smartphones, because entering a code means that they will need to switch between the invitation to the survey they received in the e-mail box and the mobile web browser. In order to facilitate the user experience, we prefer to use unique URLs for each respondent, so the respondent will immediately open the survey after a click on the URL and the respondent can immediately start completing it.

8. We invite respondents to fill in the survey by SMS

In case we have explicit consent of the respondents for sending text messages, in addition to invitations via e-mail, we also send an invitation to fill out a survey via SMS. The URL to the survey is included in the message and the respondent only clicks on the URL in the message.

For further reading on this topic, you can look at the report of the American Public Opinion Research Association (AAPOR).

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