Are You Sick of Drag-and-Drop Surveys?
Now that survey tools are easy to build and cheap to buy, the companies that sell these tools try to differentiate their offerings with various types of design enhancements. Sometimes they succeed by offering truly elegant respondent experiences with simple, intuitive, easy-to-use, and adaptable formats. Sometimes, though, it feels like all the razzle dazzle starts distracting from the process of answering questions. When that happens, I begin to worry about the validity and reliability of our data.
That happened last week as I took one such survey that swooshed away each answered question to the left, and swooshed in a new one from the right. “That’s cool,” I said. Until the swooshing happened again and again, at which point “cool” started to become “ANNOYING.” It was good reminder of an experiment published two years ago in Public Opinion Quarterly on just this topic.
Three academic researchers devised a test-retest experiment to explore whether drag-and-drop formats for survey questions were advantageous because they offer a more engaging survey experience. They tested card sort exercises and slider scales versus traditional point-and-click formats.
Their conclusion: The first time around, “respondents found the questionnaire more pleasant, more interesting, and more important to them.” But the second time round, those same respondents “found the questionnaire less pleasant, less interesting, and more repetitive compared to the dragging version in the first wave…and compared to [the] respondents who received the dragging version in the second wave for the first time.” An additional downside, they found, is that drag-and-drop formats add significantly to the time it takes respondents to answer survey questions.
Sure dragging is fun, and most of us like it at first. But the lesson from this research, and from our own experiences as well, is that you should use it sparingly. Including one card sort exercise is a great idea, as it may offer just the thing to engage your audience. But any more than that is likely to be annoying.