13 July 2011

Survey design 101

Back when I worked at Vovici, I saw my share of badly designed online surveys. Great sweeping masses of matrix questions were always popular, alas. One of the services we provided was consulting with our customers to make their surveys more sensible and thereby to improve completion rates.

Because I once had this professional interest, and because I actually have a graduate degree with a concentration in marketing and market research, I try to respond to solicitations to take a survey. And if I see that it's poorly designed, I have no compunction about bailing out after the first page. Forcing an answer to a question where my response is really "don't know/don't care" especially peeves me.

DCist's 2011 readership survey, therefore, comes as a pleasant surprise. It's short and to the effing point (three pages plus the thank-you page), that is, it's focused on getting business intelligence in just a few areas. All the intrusive (for some people) demographic questions are on the last page, where they should be, so the respondent can skip them if he chooses to. This is not the sort of survey you usually see hosted by the free service SurveyMonkey. The only quibble I have is that the demographic questions are required-response.

But it's this sequence of "don't care" response alternatives that tickles me.

8. What device(s) do you use to get your TV programming? Check all that apply.

  • Computer

  • A television

  • Apple TV/Google TV/Boxee

  • Game Console

  • Smartphone

  • Tablet (iPad, Playbook, etc.)

  • I don't watch TV

  • Other (please specify)

9. What service(s) do you use to access your TV shows? Check all that apply.

  • Local network TV

  • Cable/Satellite/FIOS TV

  • Network sites (NBC.com, ABC.com)

  • Free streaming video sites (Hulu, Veoh)

  • Premium streaming video sites (Hulu, Netflix)

  • Subscriber exclusive apps (HBO Go, TWCable App, etc.)

  • I don't watch TV

  • Other (please specify)

10. What kind of TV programming do you enjoy? Check all that apply.

  • Drama

  • News

  • Sci-fi

  • Sports

  • Movies

  • Educational

  • Reality

  • Comedy

  • Food & Home

  • I told you I don't watch TV, dammit!

  • Other (please specify)

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