Ensure Valid Results From Your Online Survey

Recently I was invited to take part in an online survey by a national group here in Ireland.  One of the questions asked “are you a member…” and offered two answers – “yes” or “no”.  The question was also obligatory, i.e., it was not possible to proceed to the next page of the survey without answering the question.   So, given that I am a member, I answered the question “yes”.  Making such questions obligatory is a common enough practice.

However, a little later, there was another question asking: “If you are not a member of [group in question], why not?”  Now why ask me that question?  I’ve already said I’m a member.  I didn’t even want to see that question – it was irrelevant to me.  So that was irritating.   But then it got worse.  That question was also obligatory!  Yep – I had to describe why I wasn’t a member even though I am a member and had already said so!  Now maybe some people put “N/A” or something in the box.  But I’ve better things to do with my time so I stopped taking the survey at that point.

Did the survey designer test the logical flow of their survey?  No.

Did they get someone else to take a test run through the survey?  Seemingly not.

Did they irritate all members?  Probably.

Did they cause people to abandon the survey prematurely?  Yes.

Are their results flawed?  Definitely.

If you’re considering a DIY survey beware the risk of false economy!  And if you’ve any similar stories on other surveys I’d love to hear about them.


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