Online surveys are used by numerous businesses and non-commercial organizations to collect data. It is evident that online research allows to reach considerably broader audience than old-fashioned print questionnaires. However, since online surveying is devoid of personal «eye-to-eye» contact, it can very often be failed or lead to poor output. It is not easy to persuade a person that you don’t even see to complete a survey. Normally, you have less than a minute to do that after a respondent opens it. This means, professionals should make their surveys more appealing to respondents, so that people not only want to complete them, but get back for results.
The following steps will help you learn how to compose professionally looking online surveys from initial idea to visual design.
1. Set objectives
The very first and the most important is to define survey objectives. It will help you determine survey structure, question types and blocks. Whether it is a marketing survey, a social research or a client satisfaction survey, you must be familiar with characteristics of your audience and ensure adequacy of questions. What kind of data would you like to receive from respondents and in what way or order do you want them to submit it? Sometimes it’s better to provide a choice set or a rating scale, sometimes a text field is required to clarify a respondent’s opinion. Very often it is necessary to include contact fields in a survey (e.g. email, phone, etc.) so that you can get in touch with respondents and send them newsletters.
2. Structure questions
Group questions into blocks according to their semantic relevance and arrange them considering processing logic. Try to put relatively simple questions in the beginning and move to more complex ones gradually. Don’t mix questions from different blocks.
Usualy a survey includes the following question blocks:
- Respondent’s personal data which may include age, sex, education, position, etc. This block is highly important, as it helps to determine whether or not a respondent can be referred to the target audience.
- Respondent’s experience. This block of questions helps to detect whether a respondent is familiar with the sphere of your research (for example, services, brand, products, etc.) and what kind of experience he has had. It is recommended to use check boxes, select boxes or radio buttons here in order to speed up submission and simplify further analysis.
- Respondent’s attitude block includes questions directly related to survey subject. It is critical to let respondents express opinion and attitude with no limitations. You can ask them to provide their own thoughts or rates.
3. Be brief and consistent
Don’t make your survey too much complicated if you want to get proper and sincere answers. Your respondent should spend as minimal amount of time with the survey as possible. In case you feel that you have too many questions to ask, better divide surveying into several stages.
4. Build a survey and put it online
This paragraph is dedicated to technical aspects of online surveys. An online survey is actually a web form that contains specific form (survey) fields and elements. To create a fully functional online survey you must know how to build a web form and make it avaliable online. This meens that you need to write HTML/CSS code and form script, plus create visual design if you want your survey to look unique. Although it might seem incredibly difficult to non-technical people, an online survey can be generated and start working within a few minutes by anyone without any programming skills. Nowadays there is a great variety of online survey generators by using which you can save hundreds of dollars and hours of time, which is also important. The main benefit of such online services is that you can ceate, manage surveys and track statistics yourself right from a web browser, instead of hiring a web developer/designer and paying for hosting or installing special software.
See how easy it can be to create a survey:
- Go to online survey service homepage PHPForms.net;
- Create account and sign up (it can be used even for free);
- Go to form builder area and create a new form;
- Drag and drop desired form elements and survey fields, preview and save your survey;
- Grab direct link to a survey form and paste it anywhere on the web or send the link with survey invitation email.
- You can also insert survey code to your web page and it will be shown in iframe.
5. Design unique survey theme
There’s one more step to make a really attractive online survey. Unique design helps to notice respondents’ attention and they will be far more likely to answer all your questions properly. Besides, with special fields such as star rating or grading, a survey looks more professional and the whole process becomes more interactive to a respondent. If you want to put a survey on your web site, you will probably need to go beyond a standard theme and make it comply with design of your web site.
The following elements can be used to customize survey theme:
Your logo, background image, specific background pattern or presets, custom fonts, coloured buttons, shadows, etc.
You can see examples of how survey forms look with various theme templates in the free form gallery and even use them in your own surveys!