Sometimes, More Is Better: How to Use AYTM’s Combobox Feature

The AYTM Combobox Feature (also known as a ‘Dropdown List’) is a survey design feature that allows for long lists. Normally, without a Combobox, AYTM limits lists to a maximum of seven items. And in most cases this is appropriate; we want to make sure the survey participant has a good experience, and keeping lists short is a key part of accomplishing this goal.

So how to use this question type in your online surveys? Here are two cool applications.

Cool use of the AYTM Combobox #1: To capture brand information.

The most common example here would be when asking what brands from a specific product category have been purchased. If you want to know what brand of laptop computer your target market members currently use, the list of major brands is easily more than seven names. Without the combobox, you would have to offer 6 options and then an “Other” item. Not really ideal, is it? Below is the current list of “top” laptop brands, based on various lists published in computer magazines. Note that there are eleven.

1. Acer
2. Apple
3. ASUS
4. Dell
5. Gateway
6. HP
7. Lenovo
8. MSI
9. Samsung
10. Sony
11. Toshiba

And imagine if you wanted to capture model on top of that? The list would really grow.

But can you trust research participants to scroll down a long lost, to find their answer? No, not really, But in this case, as soon as they start typing the brand name, the AYTM platform will suggest matches. So there is no need to scroll down. Many people have grown accustomed to autofill features, so this will be natural for them.

Cool use of the AYTM Combobox #2: To anticipate open-ended questions.

This example may be a bit more controversial. But if you have the luxury of a longer list, you can craft a question that hits a midpoint between a conventional “select one” style question and an open-ended question. Purely open ended questions pose a challenge for researchers, since coding them for tallies can be difficult and time-consuming. But with a combobox, we have some options. Tip: when doing this, just avoid really long statements. A long list is one thing; a long list of wordy answer options is another.

As an example, I was recently talking to a client who was examining brand perceptions. Of course, he was also using some conventional approaches using aided and unaided questions. But after the unaided question about “words that come to mind when you think of Brand X”, it would have been very efficient to sort of “pre-code” the open-ended responses with a follow-up question: “Which of the following words best describes Brand X”?, followed by a long list such as this:

1. Friendly
2. Slow
3. Innovative
4. Boring
5. Child-friendly
6. Simple
7. Dated
8. Complex
9. Efficient
10. Expensive
11. Flexible
12. Narrow
13. Fun
14. Trendy
15. Tough

True, this is not a conventional approach. But it is a cool and efficient way of bridging the gap between unaided and aided questions.

Comboboxes Add Flexibility to Online Surveys

We all have a responsibility to make sure our survey designs deliver a positive experience to research participants. This helps us (by minimizing drop-out rates) and helps all people conducting research (by making sure participants continue to be willing to accept survey invitations). While Comboboxes could be abused, judicious use can be a great benefit for specific data capture needs

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Korostoff
Kathryn Korostoff taught market research best practices at Ask Your Target Market, and is the president of Research Rockstar, delivering market research training and support services. She can be reached at KKorostoff AT ResearchRockstar DOT com.