Testing your survey from the perspective of the end respondent…

Financial Services Team Blog

Richard Moore

Here’s an interesting question and I’d be willing to bet that the majority would say that they always do this… but how often do you (either in an agency or client-side role) truly look at your newly programmed survey from the perspective of the end respondent? We’re talking about going beyond a standard test and actually taking the survey as if you were completing it yourself? How much fun was taking the survey and did it keep you engaged? Did everything look as you intended at the design stage?

I think that it can become possible to lose sight of the survey experience when the focus is on designing a survey to answer a specific set of research objectives, of course, it is not unknown for additional objectives to be introduced during the research design process (often resulting in additional questions…), as topics are explored and stakeholders contribute further ideas. But these things must be balanced in order to keep the end respondent and integrity of the data in mind.

It is only when you sit down and test your survey from the perspective of the respondent that you can truly start to understand the experience that they are about to have and the quality of the data that you are about to collect. So in all honestly… was your survey too long? Was there any repetition? And did you make use of any media?

We also have to consider the ever changing landscape of devices available to take surveys on, this includes desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Although, a survey may have been designed with a desktop or laptop user in mind, there is nothing stopping a respondent from taking the survey on their smartphone.

So, what does this mean? Shorter surveys? More images or video content? Or perhaps setting the respondent tasks? My opinion is that it could be a combination of these things but ultimately, never losing sight or forgetting about the respondent at any stage of the research design process. If the respondent was kept in mind when designing the survey then completing it should be an enjoyable experience for them.

At Harris Interactive, we have designed many thousands of surveys and would welcome the opportunity to work with you to design an engaging survey for your audience.


  • Respondent Engagement
  • Survey Programming