6 Best Practices for Designing a Mobile Friendly Survey (Video)
By Chuck Murphy

Designing an impactful mobile friendly survey is quite challenging. Unfortunately, many market researchers take surveys designed for a desktop and let an automated system format them for mobile. This leads to a terrible experience for mobile respondents, who now make up a sizeable portion of most quantitative online surveys. In order to design an effective mobile survey, you have to think about the mobile experience as a completely separate survey whose data will need to work with your desktop data. Here are some simple rules that can serve as a starting point.

6 Best Practices for Designing a Mobile-Friendly Survey

1) A happy respondent is a helpful respondent.
Make the experience as intuitive and user-friendly as possible; respondents will be much more engaged if the UI is clean and simple. With mobile, this means more time and effort adjusting the experience across platforms and device types, but this is critical if you want respondents to stay engaged.

2) Less respondent effort = more researcher payoff.
Confusion about what to click or where to scroll can lead to a frustrated respondent, which could lead to inaccurate data. Make sure the design is optimized for mobile, which often means a significant reduction in scope. Simple copying and pasting long attribute batteries into a mobile program will not work.

3) Streamline it!
Find opportunities to make the survey short and simple and the interface should be as intuitive as possible. Make sure there is consistency across questions with layout and key interaction elements to keep the respondent moving as quickly as possible.

6 Best Practices for Designing a Mobile-Friendly Survey

4) Clarity is key.
Give the respondent clear instructions and make sure it is obvious how you want them to proceed. On some platforms, the answer choices may not show up at first with the question, so if an action is needed to display the choices, make sure the respondent has clear instructions.

5) There’s no place like home – so tell ‘em when they’re close.
A big, bright progress bar that seems to make big jumps with each answered question makes the respondent feel accomplished.

6) Pre-testing is valuable insurance.
In the current climate of “I need results yesterday” it is easy to skip some of the more laborious quality control practices. Pre-testing on mobile can be very insightful, especially given the multitude of device types available. The improvements you can make with some simple pre-tests are well worth the effort.

What tips do you have for creating effective mobile surveys? Comment below!

3 responses to “6 Best Practices for Designing a Mobile Friendly Survey (Video)”

  1. Z says:

    Mobile surveys are probably the primary place where the “Keep it simple” is absolutely key. That means avoiding lots of open-ended text questions, matrices, and super long surveys. I like the idea of using more interactive question types, too – like slider scales, questions that ask for a photo. Let’s take advantage of the touch screens and the way that we typically use our smartphones (swipe to the next question?) to make mobile surveys feel more natural than they can currently feel.

  2. Jocelyn says:

    Very useful tips. I want to create a survey on mobile devices myself and would be grateful if you helped me select an online survey tool that’d help me create surveys well suited for mobile phones. I have few in my mind, say, Qualtrics, SoGoSurvey, what do you think?

    • Lisa Brown says:

      Hi Jocelyn
      I have utilized Qualtrics in the past and found it works well across all mobile platforms from tablets to smartphones.
      Hope that helps,

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