Scrolling vs. Paging on Mobile Surveys
As more and more people use smartphones and mobile devices to fill out surveys, basic survey design decisions need to be revisited again and again. How should surveys be laid out visually? How should answer scales be constructed? How should people be recruited to take surveys?
Some of the latest answers to these questions come from two research studies recently published in Public Opinion Quarterly and the Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology. The researchers explored several design issues that could affect survey results as people migrate to mobile devices.
Here are their findings:
- A scrolling page layout (with multiple questions per page) is not better than paging (with just one question per page) when it comes to survey participation and survey completion rates. Conversely, paging is not better than scrolling when it comes to item non-response.
- However, scrolling does allow people to complete surveys faster and with fewer technical difficulties; therefore, respondents evaluate their experiences with scrolled surveys more highly.
- Both text messages and e-mail are effective in recruiting people to complete online surveys, but those responding to text-messages have higher break-off rates.
- There are no differences when it comes to laying out answer scales vertically versus horizontally, so either method will work.
Findings like these are always reassuring to me because they highlight the (surprising) fact that despite all the “extraneous” issues we worry about affecting our findings, surveys are really quite robust. Ask people questions, give them opportunities to answer honestly, and sure enough it is not so hard to get the data we need.
Even so, if you need help figuring out the best way to design and launch your survey, with all the latest updates on best practices from our academic colleagues, feel free to give us a call. We’re ready to help you do the most rigorous and insightful research possible.