5 Ways to Improve User Surveys

Roger HuangRoger Huang | 4 minute read | July 29, 2016

In this article

How to Improve User Surveys

In his TED talk, US executive, designer, and technologist John Maeda discusses the relationship between technology, art, and design—addressing how technology and art are often treated like separate entities. But by combining them, he states that we can open up to a whole new level of thinking.

So how can we apply this thinking to how we collect data in the first place? Here are five design-focused strategies to help you get more responses when collecting user surveys:

Improving user surveys with Springboard
Improving user surveys with Springboard

1- Set a clear focus

“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity.” —Steve Jobs

Focus continues to be a success factor for successful people. The same applies to data collection with surveys. The first thing you should think about when collecting data is your intention. What will you use it for? Having clear objectives from the start will set you up for success.

You’ll need feedback from your potential market but even before you create the survey, you’ll need to know what you really want to find out. A few things to think about:

Is my idea a solution to a problem?

Who is my target audience?

Are there any obstacles they face?

By setting some objectives, you’ll put together the right questions in your survey, which will lead to better data. So establish your ideal outcome first, then work backwards to achieve it.

2- Use user survey tools that integrate UX design

I’ve responded to endless requests for feedback, and they were always a nightmare to complete. Filling out endless pages of ratings from “‘strongly agree”’ to “‘strongly disagree”’ was not my idea of fun!

There are all kinds of survey tools you can use to collect data, but using software which engages your respondents from start to finish will produce higher response rates. Because the more responses the better, right? And remember: user experience matters with everything you do, including the tools that you use.

Related: What is UX Design?

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3- Use interactive media

Collecting data and feedback doesn’t need to be boring. There are creative ways to make it both interesting for you, and immersive for your respondents. And as an aspiring designer or data scientist, you can experiment with different methods of soliciting replies. By using quizzes, videos, and infographics, you’ll make data collection more appealing to respondents.

Imagine you wanted to test the effectiveness of interactive media in your user surveys. Here are some different UX research methods to consider:

Desirability studies: see how users respond to different visuals.

A/B Testing: randomly assign different designs to users and measure the effects on behavior (make sure to avoid these common mistkes).

Concept testing: evaluate consumer response to an idea before putting it out into the market.

People respond well to visuals, it’s backed by science. So don’t be scared to include some visual media in your surveys.

Related: What Does a UX Designer Do?

4- Think about length

Statistics show that shorter surveys generate more successful completion rates than longer ones. Why? Because people have limited time and short attention spans. Keep them hooked by delivering a unique experience.

The exact length, however, depends on your target audience and the reason you’re collecting data. So design the optimal length for your survey that will generate the most responses. This can be influenced by your respondents or the type of survey you intend to send out. Put yourself in the shoes of your user. If you were a busy working parent or a high-flying entrepreneur, would you have time to fill out a survey?

5- Language: make it a conversation

Are you designing for customers? For users? A good way to approach your survey is to design it as if you’re designing for humans. Think about how you would collect feedback from someone through a face-to-face conversation. Then replicate that same experience through an online form or survey.

This goes back to your target audience. Who are they? How would you talk to them? Design with this person in mind, as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with them in a cafe.

A few final thoughts

You’ve been tasked with creating a survey to collect data, which sounds pretty simple. Yet it’s not just a one-dimensional project. Remember to consider factors such as design, user experience, and technology. These three elements are the keys for getting you higher responses and collecting that valuable—and relevant—data that you’re after. Also, don’t forget to design with clear objectives and keep your persona in mind during the entire process. It’ll be the difference between an uphill climb through information and easily meeting new data needs.






This is a guest post from Cara-Jane Feingold from Typeform–here is her bio: 

My name is Cara-Jane Feingold and I’m an online marketer at Typeform. Typeform has 4x the completion rates than the industry average due to a huge focus on UX. Data collection is a great example of where user experience is often neglected. So this inspired me to explore the topic further. The main takeaway? User experience affects response rates.  

LinkedIn: https://es.linkedin.com/in/carafeingold

Twitter: @CaraFeingold

If you want to pitch drafts to the Springboard blog, email roger@springboard.com.

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Roger Huang

About Roger Huang

Roger has always been inspired to learn more. He has written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, VentureBeat, and Techvibes. Previously, he led Content Marketing and Growth efforts at Springboard.