What is a Survey Timer or a Timed Survey?
A survey timer or a timed survey is defined as the as pre-configured time limit for a respondent to complete a survey from the time of starting a survey. Respondents have to complete the survey within a certain period of time and when the timer runs out, the survey closes and the responses are marked as incomplete. The minimum time limit is 1 minute and the maximum is 60 minutes.
Creating a survey is an important tool for market research and collecting feedback. Creating and deploying a survey consumes a considerable amount of resources and time and hence if the sample doesn’t provide the requisite number of responses, the survey may end up being futile. Hence, special care has to be taken into the survey design and the survey questions. Adding a survey timer makes the data collection experience much more robust as it helps dictate the pace of the survey and ensure the data collected is accurate and complete.
For example, when an organization is conducting interviews with candidates to potentially onboard them to the organization, they can conduct a survey asking demographic questions and other qualifying questions, like a quiz. These former doesn’t need much time to be completed and the latter is to be regulated so that the candidates do not seek external help. In this case, a timed survey works effectively to collect the right information from the respondent.
Types of Survey Timer
There are multiple timers that a survey can consist of. Some of the widely used timers in a survey are:
- Question Timer: A question timer adds a timer for each question in the survey design phase. Alternatively, a timer can be added to a specific or all question types in the survey. For example, a retail brand can time dichotomous question types to be answered within 15 seconds whereas a tad bit complicated question type like the semantic differential scale question can be allowed 1 minute. This means that a timed survey can consist of one, some, many or all timed questions depending on the objective of the study, survey distribution method and the respondent demographics.
- Section Timer: Surveys that have many questions that are broken down into sections so that data analysis can be conducted section wise. It also makes it easier for the respondent to reply to questions since they are largely structured. This then allows each section to be timed separately. For example if a hypermarket is collecting feedback, the section on demographics and geographical location can be timed differently, questions about shopping can be timed differently and billing questions can be timed differently depending on their complexity and the number of questions.
- Page Timer: A survey consists of multiple pages and the survey timer allows a time limit to be assigned to each page in a survey. Depending on the objective of the survey, the timer can be applied to none, some, most or all pages. This ensures that the respondent is aware of the time that he/she has to complete each page. For example, if an airline is collecting feedback on the flying experience, the pre, during and post flying experience questions can all be on individual pages.
- Survey Timer: The most commonly timed survey type is where there is a timer for the survey as a whole. When a respondent starts taking a survey, a ticker constantly shows the amount of time remaining to complete the survey. For example, if an organization would like to conduct a product evaluation survey, when the survey is sent out to respondents, each survey is configured to be timed.
Tips for Conducting an Effective Timed Survey
There are multiple benefits of conducting a timed survey; especially since it offers an insightful and fully controlled experience for an online survey. However, to take full advantage of this feature, some recommended best practices are:
- Allow enough time to respond: Make sure there is enough time for each question to be answered. You don’t want to give respondents very less time that they cannot respond or way too much time that boredom sets in. For example, in the case of a Van Westendorp-Price sensitivity question, the time required to think and respond is much more than a simple multiple-choice question. These factors have to be taken into account while setting up the survey.
- Survey prompts: Prompts about time left in a survey helps increase the survey response rate as the respondent is aware of how much time is left to complete a survey.
- Test survey beforehand: Speculating on the survey completion time may not be the ground reality of the actual time it takes to complete a survey. Hence, prior testing of the timed survey is very important.
Survey Timer and Timed Survey Questions with Examples
Let us consider a survey where Walmart is conducting to understand the purchasing trends of customers and potential customers. The survey distribution is conducted via multiple means to the sample of the people that are potential respondents.
The time to complete the survey is set at 2 minutes. The first question asked can be:
On a selection, the next question is displayed with the timer running in the background so that each respondent can check how much time is left to complete the survey.
How do I set up a time limit for my survey?
To set up time limit for the survey, go to:
- Login » Surveys » (Select Survey) » Edit Survey » Security » Countdown Timer
- Use the drop-down of Time Limit to select the number of minutes for the timer, with a minimum time of 1 minute and a maximum time of 60 minutes.
- Click Save Changes.
How does the time limit work?
A countdown timer will be displayed on the survey. Respondents have to finish the survey within the specified time. If respondents do not finish the survey within the specified time, the survey will end and the response will be marked as incomplete.
Why would you ever want your survey to time out?
Answering a survey under a given time frame actually increases the quality of responses in terms of capturing the first thing that comes to the respondents' mind. Other use cases include administering a quiz in a classroom setting, as part of a training course, or as a gauge of people's knowledge about a product as part of a market research project.
What's the benefit of using a countdown timer?
The biggest advantage of this feature is to reduce dropout rates. The respondents have to complete the survey as soon as they start it as there is a timer. They cannot leave it and walk away from their desk etc.
Advantages and Benefits of using a Survey Timer or Conducting a Timed Survey
There are many advantages of using a survey timer or conduct a timed survey. They are:
- Ensure survey completeness: With a timer that shows up during the survey, the respondent is well-aware about having to complete a survey. This helps increasing the number of completed responses.
- Discourage taking external help: If the respondent is aware that there is a limited time to complete a survey, there is limited scope for the respondent to take external help. This helps in increasing the validity of the responses. This feature is very effective when surveys are in the form of a quiz or a test; especially when a candidate is interviewing with an organization.
- Weed out invalid responses: If the time to take a survey is set at 20 minutes and completion tests throw up a time close to this number, it is safe to say that a respondent should take around that time to complete a survey. If post survey data shows the survey completion time shows 2 minutes, this means that the respondent didn’t answer seriously and just rushed through the responses to claim the incentive. In this case, this response can be discarded as invalid.
- Watch videos or listen to audio’s entirely:If there is a 3 min audio file or a video clip in the survey, you want the respondents to pay attention to that rich media. Adding a timer in the survey so that the respondent can move to the next question or page until the whole file plays out, ensures that the respondent is paying attention to the whole question.