Over 40 ways to improve the UX of your online surveys

Image for post
Image for post

Online surveys are a quick and incredibly useful tool for gathering all sorts of user feedback. In next to no time you can whip something up and start gathering valuable insights from real users. Often implementing the survey is the easy bit, it’s designing the damn thing that’s the tricky part. If I had a pound (or dollar) for every badly designed survey that I was asked to fill out, well I wouldn’t necessarily be a rich man, but I’d still be on to a nice little earner. By not asking the right questions, in the right order, and in the right way, you risk your survey generating a pile of data garbage, rather than the useful feedback and insights that you were hoping for.

Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover. Well, I couldn’t quite stretch to 50, but here are over 40 ways to improve the UX of your online surveys.

Planning surveys

1. Plan out what you need to capture

2. Identify the survey audience

3. Consider how many responses you need

4. Capture a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data

5. Don’t ask what your analytics will tell you

Image for post
Image for post
If you can find something out using analytics, you don’t need to ask

6. Choose the right survey tool

Image for post
Image for post
SurveyGizmo is a great tool for creating online surveys

Structuring surveys

7. Focus on time to complete, rather than number of questions

8. Keep surveys as quick to complete as possible

9. Have a logical flow

10. Keep short surveys to one page & break up longer ones

11. Selectively ask for extra information

12. Front load with the most important questions

13. Require only key questions

14. Spend time on writing a good intro

15. Say thank you and spell out any next steps

Choosing question types

16. Use open questions sparingly

17. Choose appropriate question types

18. Ask for recognition over recall

Image for post
Image for post
Allow participants to select from a list where possible

19. Use radio selections for small lists, drop downs for long lists

20. Don’t present too many options

21. Ensure that single selection choices are mutually exclusive

22. Provide a middle point for Likert scales

23. Avoid radio button grids for mobile

Image for post
Image for post
Avoid radio button grids like this for mobile surveys

24. Use pictures where possible

Writing questions and options

25. Aim for neutral questions

26. Don’t expect people to read instructions

27. Keep questions and instructions succinct

28. Only ask one question at a time

29. Use plain, clear and easy to understand language

30. Provide examples to help comprehension

31. Randomize options where possible to avoid bias

32. Allow for ‘Other’ or ‘N/A’ options

Image for post
Image for post
It’s usually a good idea to include a ‘Other’ option

33. Size text boxes for expected input

Image for post
Image for post
Size text boxes to reflect the expected content

34. Validate answers where possible

Styling surveys

35. Use branding to build trust

36. Emphasise question text

37. Show progress for longer survey

Image for post
Image for post
Show a progress indicator for longer surveys

38. Use question numbers for longer surveys

39. Check styling and usability across devices

Publishing surveys

40. Pilot surveys & tweak accordingly

41. Thoroughly test any question logic

42. Spend time on the invitation

43. A/B test different invitations

44. Send out reminders

45. Use tracking IDs

46. Set a closing date

If you like this article then please recommend and share it. You can find lots more articles like this on my blog: UX for the Masses

See also

Written by

Former techy turned UX Jedi. Checkout out my blog (UX for the Masses) for more about me.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store