Conducting Surveys on Mobile Devices: Optimizing Your Results

The number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019, with half of that population predicted to be smartphone users. Consider that statistic, it’s clear that the world has fully embraced the concept of mobile technology. The rapid adoption has impacted everyday life in many ways; it is changing the way companies interact with their consumers.

The market research industry is no exception, the way businesses capture experience feedback must continue to progress. While most surveys can be accessed and completed on mobile devices, the vast majority will not suitably perform for the respondent. That being said, it’s important to reflect on best practices for mobile surveys.

Improving the Mobile Survey Experience

Researchers or clients that wish to improve the survey experience to accommodate mobile audiences should consider the following spaces when designing surveys for mobile devices; programming standards, question types, and survey length.

Programming Standards

Quantitative programming standards should start with an adaptive design, surveys should be developed to fit the dimensions of a mobile screen with a readable font. Additionally, surveys that are meant to be compatible for mobile devices should focus on text display that does not extend beyond the horizontal limitations but should allow for vertical scrolling, as it will result in a better survey taking experience. Moreover, it is also crucial to consider how a logo or concept alignment will be altered on smaller screens.

Question Types

Once mobile programming standards are applied, it’s also vital to evaluate any text-heavy questions, as the format may not be ideal on smaller screens. Issues with the way mobile browsers display questions designed for desktop environments could also present as an exhaustive respondent experience. For example, multi-grid question types are a good example of a common question presentation issue associated with screen size. In most grids, attribute text is displayed in the same row as the radio button or multi-check answer choices, resulting in either a very small font, overlapping text, or a wrap-around effect that creates too much space between the response lines. The best way to avoid such issues is to test and preview surveys on common mobile devices or browsers prior to releasing to the field.

Survey Length

Fortunately, many market research platforms have set limits on how long surveys can be, and for good reason. Prior to the creation of AYTM, we witnessed respondents being asked to spend hours of their time struggling through pages and pages of survey questions. Developing interviews that are shorter in length minimizes the chances of respondent fatigue but requires researcher and clients alike to find more creative and compact ways to design their surveys. With the proliferation of mobile devices, it’s absolutely essential to be compact. With smaller screens and shorter time slots to fill, information has to be cut into smaller chunks in order to fit the lifestyles and devices of consumers.

Ensuring a survey is properly optimized across multiple devices will create a survey experience in which respondents can remain engaged and focused on the survey topic, thus resulting in actionable, valid data.

The Takeaways

It’s advisable to note that not every survey question can be easily optimized to fit a mobile design. When questions cannot be revised or removed from the survey, mobile respondents should be informed that the survey is not suited for their device and best taken on a larger screen. Granted, this option is not ideal as it may increase the drop-out rate, but it is better than presenting participants with a request that he or she cannot complete. It is critical to work with market research platforms like AYTM that continually refine their strategy and optimize the survey experience for mobile users!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ariel Hagaman
I was born and raised in New Jersey, and currently work for AYTM as Director of Client Services. I am a graduate of the University of Phoenix, and have always found that I am at my best when working with people. My favorite past-times are reading, skiing, and yoga!