TIPS

Optimal Online Survey Length Back

What is the optimal length for online surveys?

It is very hard to apply a one-size-fits-all rule. Length and complexity are dictated so much by purpose and audience. Twenty questions might be too long in a simple feedback survey and too short for a strategic needs assessment.

Standards of good survey practice still apply to the online environment. Be guided by what is important to know rather than throw in what you would like to know 'while you are there'.

The online environment imposes conditions that are different from answering paper-based surveys. Respondents may lose contextual cues very quickly while scrolling on screen. The longer the survey the greater the risk those respondents will lose the sense of what the survey is about.

Providing cues, such as category headings and other prompts will help respondents stay on track and improve the overall quality of the survey.

One way to determine the best length for an online survey is to consider the number of screen pages and the ability to navigate logically. Another consideration is that the survey takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.

E-valuate-IT provides a range of features to enhance survey structure and presentation and assist navigation.

The matrix layout (stacking multiple-choice questions that use a scale in common) offers added opportunity to condense questions and provide further orientation.

Options include matrix titles, lead questions, annotations or instructions, column headings and annotations for double matrix, and color bands for clarity. There are also choices to include text or numbers above response columns, display extremes (first and last response options) and legend (numbered list of response options).

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