Survey Gamification? It’s About Good Survey Design

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At the root of survey gamification are good, sound survey design principles. That’s the main message from Reg Baker’s presentation at the MR Festival.

Baker follows the cognitive process (Tourangeau, Rips and Rasinski, 2000) involved in how respondents process information and survey questions and points out the opportunities to create engaging surveys. When faced with survey questions respondents go through different phases:

  • Comprehension: Understand the information, apply logic, connect key terms. Survey design can help comprehension by keeping questions simple, avoiding vague concepts, being specific, defining ambiguos terms and providing examples.
  • Retrieval: Memories are retrieved and blanks are filled in. Survey design can make retrieval easier by offering cues, providing keys to important events, and decomposing the situation the question refers to.
  • Judgement: Asses relevance, integrate material, draw inference. Survey design can aid judgement by managing the context to which the question applies, decomposing the question and discouraging overthinking questions.
  • Response: Categorize, edit responses. Question formatting can improve response rate by avoiding certain question types (e.g.  open-ended, numeric questions, long grids) and using meaninful scale anchors.

Survey tool providers are racing to create different question formats (e.g. sliders, heatmaps, etc.) to make the survey-taking experience more engaging and minimize abandonment rates. However, with the increase of surveys and DIY research done by inexperienced people, the quality of survey design has declined. Writing surveys looks easy, but it is not. Fun and cool question formats can’t compensate for ill-designed questions.

I have to agree with Baker that the greatest improvement needed now to engage respondents is in survey design.

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