[White Paper] Research on Cross-Platform Survey Taking Behavior

Decipher has released a new white paper on survey taking behaviors, “Planning for a cross platform survey.” The paper, which represents research on more than 20 million survey starts in the first half of 2014, addresses today’s cross-platform culture and ways to reach consumers who are using a variety of devices to access market research surveys.

Aaron Jue, author of the paper and market research director for Decipher, said, “Our research found that addressing the needs of survey respondents goes beyond ‘mobile first’, although that is still an important part of survey design. Consumers are moving seamlessly from one device to another – mobile, tablet, PC – as part of their everyday lives, and researchers must to address this phenomenon in order to maintain data collection integrity.”

The paper found that within the 20 million survey starts that were examined, roughly 80 percent of respondents took the survey using a PC device, 13 percent were on a smartphone, and the remaining respondents used a tablet. While the percentages are still small for mobile devices, likely driven by traditional panel respondents that are pre-conditioned to take surveys on a PC, they are growing rapidly.

Key findings from the research found several best practices that can assist with designing surveys for multiple devices:

  • Mobile first design: Start with designing for the smart phone or feature phone and build out from there for the remaining devices (e.g., tablet and desktop).
  • Question Layout: Design questions that work, functionally, on a small screen, such as changing from a grid question to a card sort, to help reduce dropout rates.
  • Technology and survey functionality: Limit survey input requirements to touch-and-tap events (point-and-click for PC) and keep the number of open end questions to a minimum.
  • Data integrity: Maintaining question structure and labeling consistency across device platforms is key to ensuring data integrity and comparability.
  • Auto-save: The study showed that just by enabling auto save, survey response rates jumped by 10 percent. This allows the cross-platform respondent to come back – perhaps even on a different device – and finish the survey later.

Jue continued, “Our study demonstrates that the cross-platform consumer is here to stay and we need to look at ways to keep them fully engaged. Perhaps the strongest recommendation we can make for the market research industry is to conduct testing, testing and more testing. Ensuring a survey meets your readability, usability and performance standards across every device before you launch will drive respondent satisfaction and more actionable data.”

The new paper can be viewed in its entirety at