In the pursuance of designing online surveys, it is quite vital that definitions of terms used frequently are properly established.

Term Definition
Submit/Next/Back Used to submit a finished survey or to move back or forth a page within a survey.
Multi/Checkboxe The option of selecting more than one answers; Checkboxes are used for multi usually.
Single/Radio Buttons Used when a multiple-choice question requires only one answer; Radio buttons are used for Single usually.

Surveys need to have clarity, in language and design

As opposed to a face-to-face survey, online surveys are completed by the respondents themselves, without the assistance of the researcher. It becomes essential, then, to remember the following while designing an online survey:

The Structural Design of a Survey

Single or Multi-page Surveys

A ‘page’ refers to all the text that can be accessed by a respondent without moving to the next page. A ‘screen’ refers to that part of a page that can viewed without using any of the scroll bars. Surveys that are designed for an 800x600 pixel space can be viewed as a single page by most respondents; surveys for a 1200x900 pixel space, however, can be viewed in totality by most respondents only by scrolling. Except for in the case of short surveys, a majority of market researchers prefer multi-page surveys over single-page surveys for reasons as follows:

Following are some key issues that need to be considered while creating single-page or multiple-page surveys:

Sections and Indicators

As a courtesy to respondents and keep them engaged, it is essential to mark out sections and give them information about the progress they’ve made into a survey. This can be done through the following:

Introductory and Concluding Page

Since the first page is the only chance a researcher gets to hook a potential respondent, it is vital that the following points are considered:

The concluding page should ideally be treated as well as the introductory page, as it is what leaves a lasting impression. Consider the following ideas for the same:

Improving the survey experience

Considering the growing dislike for surveys by the public, it is suddenly imperative to look at the issues concerning surveys and improve on them. Some key areas that need to be addressed are as follows:

How multimedia affects the survey experience

Images and Videos

Pictures, graphics or videos can be used in a variety of ways to render the survey less boring for respondents, as well as for demonstrations, etc. They may be, for instance, used as a stimulus as part of a question, to reinforce the branding of the researcher, or for test running an upcoming ad or video. However, many factors affect the visibility or utility of the images/videos used.

Audio

Audio is a lot less frequently used than images or videos, but they can be important for scenarios such as testing a particular jingle, and so on. However, as with any other form of multimedia, it is important to address certain issues:

A logical way of dealing with the above, is by informing the respondent of the inclusion of an audio file, and even giving them the option of ‘test’ playing it before the survey itself.

Dynamic components

An array of interactive or animated components can be used within a survey to improve a user’s experience. Such elements may include 3D view, attractive buttons, drag and drop options, sliders to scale, and so on. It is important to realize that when using any form of multimedia in order to enhance a particular survey, researchers should consider the different ways people may respond to them. For instance, many a times, respondents would not be able to view heavy graphics in view of slow internet connection or browser settings.

Making surveys more accessible

In view of the changing nature of rules and ethics regarding surveys, it is important for researchers to keep in mind the following when designing their surveys:

Databases

A drawback of using a client database is that respondents can ask where their contact has been taken from, thus becoming aware of the identity of the researcher.

Inviting Respondents

Since most invites go on email, it is vital to keep in mind the following points when designing a survey request:

Examining Surveys

Some amount of time should be assigned to test running surveys in order to filter out the bugs and errors. This process may include proxy interviews, code testing, reviewing the experience and the survey, and so on. Some problems that researchers might face include:

Ethics

It is important for a researcher, among other things, to be first and foremost, honest with their respondents, respect their time by avoid asking for extra information, and to avoid controlling who accesses their surveys.