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The Art of Survey Testing: Here’s what you need to consider!

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There’s nothing as precious as time in today’s world and researchers aim to send out their surveys quickly to the intended audience. But distributing surveys in a rush might lead to issues with data collection. After defining your survey goals and finalizing your questionnaire, how to determine if your survey is in the right shape for public consumption? That’s where you need survey testing. 

With effective survey testing, you can identify the potential problems in your survey before sending it to your respondents. This not only allows you to uncover the technical glitches or the sources of bias in your survey but also empowers you to avoid the expensive process of scrapping a flawed survey. Here’s how you can perform survey testing and improve the quality of your survey data:

How to effectively test your surveys?

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Begin with internal testing first 

To ensure the efficiency of your survey test and make it less frustrating for testers, it’s important to remove the obvious issues first. It helps to improve the appearance & flow of your survey by making it more clear, consistent, and relevant. Also, it’s recommended to share the programmed version of a survey with testers to perform the internal testing. By doing so, testers will experience the survey just like customers and will be able to manage the difference between the context of designers and respondents. 

Leverage small cohorts to conduct customer testing 

Using well-recruited cohorts of four to five people against the specific survey questions can prove to be effective for quickly gaining clear insights. When testers interact during a survey running in a browser, they can respond to defined prompts and comment on everything they see. This ongoing interaction with the browser as well as their voiceover can be recorded for reviewing later. 

Look for confusion, load, or ambiguity by using two prompts  

You can prompt testers with statements like “What is being asked in this question?” and “How are you going to answer it?” It’s recommended to play the recordings continuously and understand if customers are sounding confused. It also helps to determine whether customers made any statement that they didn’t understand the question or didn’t find the correct answer among the options given. Intending to test the questions’ order at the end, the testers should highlight any jarring functionality that they come across. 

Create the testing case 

Firstly, estimate all of your investments which include, two to four days of setting up and running the test, recruiting customers, analyzing the results, as well as refining the survey. In case you’ve access to some testing platform already, then the investment can be considered as marginal. However, you can consider free alternatives such as video calls too. Secondly, estimate the benefits that you’ll get like, saving eight to ten days of work hours which were earlier required for analyzing the results & dealing with the back and forth while managing stakeholders’ questions. Moreover, it quantifies higher quality data that empower stakeholders to make informed decisions! 

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A look inside the best practices for survey testing

Testing surveys before and after applying logic

Logic is an excellent and most preferred way of simplifying the survey-taking process. It plays a key role in showing only relevant questions to the respondents. Based on the answers provided by people, you can easily skip questions, multiple pages, or even disqualify them by following a few steps. There’s no doubt that logic can shorten your survey length and significantly reduce abandonment, but it increases the level of complexity and has a greater chance of error. Therefore, you’ll have to test your survey before and after putting logic in place.

Asking stakeholders to participate

As your stakeholders play a pivotal role in your journey, i.e. by helping you define your survey goals and brainstorm the right set of questions to ask, making them take part in your survey is extremely important. Now that you have designed and built your survey, it’s time to By re-engaging your stakeholders, you can ensure that the final result aligns well with the intended survey that you planned at the start. As stakeholders wouldn’t be able to recall the discussions of your early meetings anymore, so share your survey goals with them before asking them to take a test run. While some stakeholders may request you to add more questions in your survey, you should only include the ones that resonate with your survey goal and are likely to yield actionable results! 

Reading out your survey loudly

An online survey tool offers respondents a rough estimation of the survey completion time, but it’s important to remember that it’s only an idea. If you want to promote the time period that a respondent is expected to invest in your survey, you need to be fully sure about the time that you’ve promised to the respondents.

Do you know reading a text loudly takes almost twice as long as reading it silently? If you can read out your complete survey loudly in six minutes, you can confidently tell people that can finish the survey in less than six minutes.

Testing across multiple browsers

On understanding your target audience, it becomes easy for you to predict the browser that they use, although you can’t be fully sure about it. Testing your survey in multiple browsers helps to ensure that respondents can effortlessly navigate through your survey and receive the best experience possible. There are multiple web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc., where you need to test your survey. Also, customers prefer taking surveys on their mobile phones, so make sure you perform testing in a mobile environment too!

Keeping time to test, fix, and re-test

There’s no doubt that testing consumes a bit of time and you need to be prepared for it. You should keep some time in your market research plan for performing different kinds of testing. On scoping a project, we usually keep time for survey creation and getting it reviewed from stakeholders, often forgetting the time that will be required for testing.   

So every time a test gets conducted, you’ll have to make changes to your existing project. Once you’re done with making those changes, you need to retest your project, no matter how small the change is.

Even the small changes in your survey can lead to cascading problems especially if they affect the survey logic or page order. Thus, retesting your survey can help to keep confusion or inconsistencies at bay. 

It’s crucial to perform survey testing before sending it out to your respondents. However, survey testing won’t be of any help if you refuse to act on your findings. Use the knowledge gathered by survey testing to make the most of your survey instrument. Voxco offers omnichannel survey solutions that empower you to bring the best of your research projects by gaining actionable insights into the collected feedback. 

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