Survey Design That Delivers Impact

Done right, surveys are a powerful research tool for companies who need to define strategy, make investment decisions and more. Who you survey and what questions you ask them are two critical elements of quality market research. Equally important to the process is how questions are presented.

These days, there are a lot of different options when it comes to survey design. Many are too clever, while some are downright dangerous. That’s why Azurite has developed rules of thumb to guide your survey design and layout for maximum success.

Rule 1: Don’t Make People Work Too Hard to Understand Your Question

Respondents should be able to look at each question and have a fast, intuitive sense of what they’re expected to do. For example, techniques like looping logic, which enable you to embed follow-up questions based on people’s previous answers, have become a popular way of streamlining survey design. But because they obscure both the number and type of questions they contain, they can leave respondents feeling like they are stuck in an endless, repetitive cycle.

Instead, present all options in a grid—or another concise structure that enables people to evaluate all relevant comparisons on the same screen.

Displaying all options at the same time makes it easier for respondents to understand what’s being asked of them. It also helps people ground their answers and make sure they are comparing apples to apples, minimizing fatigue and leading to more accurate assessments.

Rule 2: Don’t Force People to Make Arbitrary Choices

How do people parse the criteria that informs their decisions? It’s a critical component of any B2B research study—but sometimes, the urge to quantify things gets in the way of good data collection.

A rank order question lets respondents sort answer options in a specific order along a scale, like top three. Unfortunately, rank ordering tends to be very arduous on the respondent and can skew your survey results. That’s because ranking items obscures nuance. Rank ordering forces respondents to make arbitrary calls when they may not actually see it that way. Imagine being asked to rank seven items from 1 to 7. Item no. 1 is probably much more important than item no. 7. But what, exactly, is the difference between nos. 5 and 6?

Azurite’s research suggests two more effective alternatives for capturing data about people’s relative preferences.

  1. Sum to 100: Respondents are asked to assign 100 points to a set of attributes based on how important they are to a decision; attributes that are assigned more points are more important.
  2. Scales: When a question is lower in priority, scales (e.g., 1 – 10 or 1 – 5) can help researchers find out how important each factor is to a decision.

Rule 3: Optimize for Mobile Devices

The percentage of people who use mobile phones to access the Internet on mobile devices has been rising for decades, and mobile phones now account for nearly 60% of the time we spend online. Mobile survey usage is also on the rise, so it’s critical for researchers to optimize their design.

Here are some specific tips for creating mobile-friendly surveys:

  • Use mobile-friendly fonts. Streamline design and layout with clean, easy-to-read fonts and concisely worded questions.
  • Keep questions in a single column. Align the elements in your survey to a single, vertical column to make questions easier to read on a smaller screen.
  • Choose open select lists instead of dropdowns and sliders. Present options up-front rather than hiding them in a dropdown. Dropdowns are frustrating on mobile, where it’s easy to inadvertently tap the wrong option.

Better Surveys, More Insight

There’s no single, simple formula for effective survey design. Choosing the right partner has a significant effect on your research outcomes. That’s why Fortune 500 companies and top Private Equity firms choose Azurite as their exclusive B2B research partner. Azurite has surveyed thousands of respondents to help companies turn subjective opinions into actionable business intelligence.

Are you ready to reimagine research?

The top Private Equity, Hedge Funds, Consulting Firms and Enterprise leaders have already seen the difference Azurite can make on their business. Contact Azurite to learn more about how we can take your B2B research to the next level.

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