Survey Design: Rethink Your Grid

As we shared in a recent blog post, it’s no longer good enough just to ensure that your online surveys are mobile compatible. They must be designed with mobile first mentality. That involves rethinking the way we ask specific types of questions.


One of our favorite question types in online surveys is matrix or grid-type rating questions. These questions have been a staple in marketing research for years for a good reason. On a desktop, laptop or tablet, respondents can quickly go down the list and rate different attributes, statements or messages. It’s an efficient way to cover a lot of content and generate the insights your business needs.

Unfortunately, the same thing that makes these rating questions so efficient on a desktop is a hindrance for mobile usability. Due to the small screen size, respondents often must scroll horizontally to see the entire scale, a big UX no-no. Wordy statements or messages compound the problem, and if the grid is too long, the scale labels may disappear from the screen as the user works her way down the list.

To get around this barrier, you must ask your matrix questions in a different way. Rather than presenting the questions in a grid format, ask each statement or attribute on a separate screen. This way, mobile users can see the scale points vertically on their screen rather than having to scroll horizontally. If you still want to keep all of the statements on the same page, consider using drop-down menus for the respondent to rate each message or attribute.

A good online survey tool will use a mobile responsive design and alert you to potential mobile UX issues. Our platform of choice is Qualtrics, which not only does the above, but also shows a side-by-side view of how each question appears on both a desktop and mobile environment.

While these solutions may cause the survey to take slightly longer for your desktop respondents, they are usable across all formats. And with over half of survey respondents now taking surveys on mobile, it’s essential to adopt a mobile-friendly survey design.



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Posted by Stewart

Stewart is passionate about all things research. Designing studies, analyzing data, and moderating interviews - Stew does it all. Outside of research, he enjoys trying new recipes in the kitchen and exploring the OKC food and craft beer scene with his wife, Jade.