Up until a few years ago, any software was designed first for PC and then adapted to smartphones and tablets. But this method hid more than a pitfall for two main reasons: the smartphone screen is much smaller than PC and the only input device is…the finger!
App design had to be remodeled for survey performance. They had to be as user friendly as they could so a one-eighty turn was needed: design native applications for mobile and just later convert them for PC. That’s how the motto “Mobile first!” was born.
Similarly, any questionnaire needs to consider this new approach.
Design and Format for better mobile survey performance: 3 recommendations
Mobile devices used by survey respondents to compile the survey have remarkably smaller dimensions than supports we usually work on. For this reason, you have to keep in mind that questionnaires on small devices hold off friendly use of descriptive text in your questions.
A survey meant to be completed with a mobile device has to be concise. But that’s not enough.
Here’s 3 useful recommendations to perfectly set your survey:
1) Avoid endless text blocks: long texts will be disadvantageous for your mobile survey. Avoid long texts and try to split long paragraphs.
The tip: use bold text to easily identify keywords and use lists to diversify text.
2) Prefer vertical display: We recommend using a vertical scroll rather than a horizontal one, much better for small devices.
The tip: choosing the right software is crucial. Be sure to avoid compatibility issues. For example, IdSurvey perfectly manages all mobile devices thanks to its responsive layout.
3) Images management: using images can be useful to make your survey more appealing and to attract respondent’s attention. Because of automatic pic resizing, mobile devices cannot allow perfect display of the image or it may take too long to load. That’s why you should limit the use of images: we’re not suggesting to create an “aseptic” survey (white background and black text) but pay serious attention to image fluidity and load speed.
The tip: when you’re designing the survey use formatting codes to define automatic resizing and avoid using huge images, preferring ad-hoc scaled-down versions.
Here’s a list of graphical characteristics a user-friendly mobile survey should have:
- Use an engaging background rather than a lot of images.
- Promote readability with a contrast between the background and the font color.
- Prefer high impact font that doesn’t strain the eyes.
- Limit long text and number of questions in a single page.
- Use a simple and pragmatic style rather than a complex and elaborate one.
Which question types to use for a good mobile survey experience?
Now that we’ve listed the characteristics a survey for mobile should (or shouldn’t) have, we can focus on the best types of questions to use. What are the other rules to choose the best question format? Here’s some:
Dropdown menu. When we’re designing a questionnaire for mobile devices we always have to remember that it will be displayed on small screens. For this reason, a lot of elements of standard surveys (on computer) may not be perfectly integrated. The dropdown menu allows you to display a long list of options in the same window enhancing the usability.
Grids. Grids are to avoid. Adapting a grid to a small screen can be complicated. You could use a scrolling grid but it won’t be the best choice as it could disorientate the respondent or cause display problems.
Open-ended questions. This type of question can be used but in a limited way. A respondent could find writing difficult and consequently give a hurried answer.
Check box. The best solution to open-ended questions is to prearrange an adequate number of check box answers. The respondent just has to select the box with the desired answer.
Mobile survey: the conclusion
This article began with what seems to be a real trend reversal in market research: surveys administered via mobile devices are more and more used by small and big companies.
There are multiple important benefits from this: interviewers work is quicker and easier, survey compilation can be completely delegated to respondents (with all consequent advantages both in economic and logistic terms).
Technology is constantly evolving: it’s a polished but democratic science. Just think about the diffusion of mobile devices all over the world.
For this reason a software that is not compatible with tech and mobile progress will be obsolete. IdSurvey survey software is completely responsive and both CAWI surveys and the CAPI app are perfectly compatible with all devices.
We have to keep in mind that mobile devices are not just an alternative to computers: more than 50% of the population we invite to our surveys will answer using a smartphone or tablet. But it’s good to also consider the limited potential of mobile devices both in graphic and formatting Always do numerous tests and controls to be sure the questionnaire is displayed correctly on the screen and that there’s no corruption of the original version.