Survey Length: Keep it short and simple

It will come as no surprise that the more questions you ask, the fewer will complete the full questionnaire. If you want to receive responses from a good number of respondents, the fewer questions you ask, the better.

Let your survey participants know that you value their time and are not out there to put them to sleep with your long and boring surveys and they would be happy to complete the survey for you.

So let’s understand ways to avoid survey fatigue for your respondents, which could result in them quitting your survey mid-stream.

Less is more

If a survey takes longer than an average of 15 to 20 minutes to complete, then it may be too long (though that doesn’t mean a survey can never be longer than 20 minutes).
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This can relate to the number of questions per page. Here, the pact is between the necessity of scrolling on a single page that includes numerous questions and the number of pages a respondent must click-through to complete the survey. If you are using the same rating scale for a group of related subjects, then you could create a single question that allows multiple ratings instead of writing separate questions for each one. You would want to be careful about using too many multiple-rating questions, as longer ones can look intimidating to a respondent.

Also, with any survey it’s a good idea to let respondents know at the start the approximate length of the survey and with online surveys using a progress bar in addition is helpful so respondents know how far along they are in the survey as it progresses.

Say no to Scrolling

The way out to this problem is multi-page surveys that effectively limit scrolling. Usually this strategy meant dividing the survey up into pages based on categories, like a page for demographic questions, particular topic of interests etc. However, having different numbers of questions per survey page has proven misleading by many respondents.

Imagine answering a survey where the first page has 4 questions and some scrolling, just to move on to a page with 8 questions. In this case you’re at the mercy of the survey design, never knowing what’s next. Frustrating? I think so! This is not a very good scenario if you want high response rates.

Optimize for the digital world

This refers to both the number of questions and the questions themselves. The longer the survey is, the more likely it is to lose respondents – true for any survey, but especially true for surveys taken on a mobile device. Reason being, mobile respondents, by virtue of being mobile, are able to access a survey anywhere. Because they are often on-the-go, there are many distractions that can pull them away if the survey is not short & precise.

And because smartphone screens are small, shorter questions and response options make it easier for smartphone respondents to read and answer questions, which should improve data quality.

Hope this explains the importance of survey completion time as you design your next survey. Make sure you’re balancing the number of questions once you build surveys to avoid respondent fall-out.