Online Technology for Research & Insight

Research Blog 14 January 2019

Five Great Survey Design Tips for Mobiles

Over 60% of the responses to surveys these days come from smartphones, so if you're not designing your surveys with these devices in mind, you should start thinking about doing so. Here's a few tips we have:

1. Observe how mobile users operate their devices: Most people aren't using their mobiles for just phonecalls, they're an intregal part of how they get information about the world around them, or consume entertainment while on the move. They flick quickly through things, scanning the information being presented to them. They will, therefore, respond well to surveys that have touch elements in them, like card sort or image hotspots.

2. Think about the basic holding positions: Research has shown that mobile users have three basic methods of holding their phone while using it: one-handed using the thumb to touch on the screen; cradled in two hands, one above the other; or using mirror hands with both thumbs typing/swiping. All three methods allow a dominant finger to tap a keyboard easily, and you will notice the two-thumb mirror typists can enter quite a lot of words very quickly into whats-app and text messages. So don't be afraid to use write-in (verbatim) questions that ask them to type an answer. A lot of them will respond well.

3. Alternative designs of basic question types: It's a great temptation to stick to single-choice or multiple-choice questions with lists of answers, because that's what surveys usually have. But these can result in clunky-looking wordy questions that aren't easy to navigate or touch-respond to. Sometimes radio button options or drop-down lists can pop-up external to the survey itself and look odd. Maybe consider a single-choice question that uses a set of 5 emojis to represent "Agree to Disagree" using smiling/neutral/sad faces that you can touch on – that will be a whole lot easier for mobile users to answer.

4. Change from portrait to landscape: It's a good idea in your question instructions to anticipate that they might be using a mobile phone, and if you have a question that looks better or is easier to answer in landscape mode, then add a gentle prompt into the wording. Or simply state at the start of the survey that they will find it easier to answer in landscape orientation.

5. Lighten things up with sound and video: As many mobile users are using their devices on the move to listen to music or watch video, then why not incorporate this element into your survey to blend in? A spoken introductory piece in MP3 format can get a survey underway with that personal touch. Video and audio clips, in short bursts, can explain the background to a question, and focus their minds precisely on what you are looking to have answered.

Staff at Demographix are happy to answer any questions you may have for optimising surveys for the mobile generation. And if you have any successful/winning techniques, we'd love to hear about them!