Are Simple Surveys Better? Yes. And No.


Part 2: Listen and adapt

In this two-part series, we’re illustrating what makes a good, simple survey. Part 1 covered tips and benefits of making surveys more visual to maximize respondent engagement. The key being that surveys should appear simple on the surface, but behind the curtain they should be anything but.

Respondents are turned off by surveys that ask repetitive or irrelevant questions. They like a survey that’s as simple as possible. And the best kind of simple is a relevant simple – so cut directly to the questions that reflect a respondent’s situation. Listen to your respondents. And then ask the right questions. Respondent should never see a question that doesn’t apply to them. If your survey can truly ‘listen’ to its respondents, it should then adapt the conversation on the fly.

So how can it be done?


If programmed the right way, a survey’s hidden variables could account for as much as 50% of your survey questions. This means that a survey that’s 30 questions long can be tailored down to only 15 using skip logic that ‘listens’ to a respondent’s early answers (or the attributes in their panelist profile).

A good survey software should allow dynamic same-page skipping or even same-table skipping that immediately react to responses given. Example: if Question 14 asks about a respondent’s most recent plane trip, and a respondent chooses ‘I’ve never taken a trip by plane’, questions 15 and 16 should immediately disappear if they are about the quality of that trip. This lets the respondent proceed quickly to the next page. Manually skipping questions or having to re-state that they haven’t flown recently frustrates respondents.

Did you know that you can also use Voxco Online to auto-program skips based on geo-location, device type, and browser language settings? These types of skips are extremely helpful as they let you dig deeper into a respondent’s specific geographic or technological situation immediately based on information gathered before the survey even begins.


Piping is taking past answers and re-using them in future questions. This echoing lets the respondent know that they are being heard. It can be very useful in customer insights surveys or employee feedback surveys where it’s important to make respondents feel valued.

Good online survey programs allow piping of images, numeric values or text. Consider pairing our advice from Part 1 and pipe changing background images to different points in the survey based on prior answers. For example, if a respondent indicated that their ideal vacation would be on a remote tropical beach, pipe in a beach backdrop for the more detailed dream vacation questions.

Reminder: Keep it simple.

The growing trend is that respondents want simpler, shorter online surveys. But that doesn’t mean that the survey tool needs to be simple, just the survey experience. So use smart ‘listen and adapt’ logic behind the scenes to maintain a relevant simplicity for respondents while maximizing your potential insights.

Voxco Online is the most flexible survey software in the industry. It combines the simple respondent experience with powerful logic and design capabilities under the hood. Simple surveys done right.

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