Layout Optimization for Online Questionnaires on Mobile Devices

Layout Optimization for Online Questionnaires on Mobile Devices

Helge Nissen, Monique Janneck
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/IJMHCI.2020040101
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Participants increasingly use mobile devices, especially smartphones, to fill out online questionnaires. However, standard questionnaire templates are often not optimized for presentation on smartphones, raising the question of whether an unfavorable layout may influence the survey results. In this study, interaction with questionnaires on different devices was investigated regarding processing time, data quality, and user experience of the questionnaire itself. Several standard and newly developed questionnaire layout templates were evaluated by means of an online study (N=301). Results show that processing times are higher on smartphones compared to desktop computers. However, there were no differences regarding data quality. The comparison of different mobile layouts among smartphone users revealed effects on processing time and user experience. Design recommendations are derived.
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The theoretical approach of this study is to analyze the suitability of smartphones for participation in online surveys from a usability perspective, because from this point of view systematic processes and corresponding methods can be applied. For this purpose, the authors use the term usability as a theoretical basis to connect already known metrics and results of methodological research with the research field of human-computer interaction. Usability is defined in ISO 9241-11 as “the extent to which a system, product or service can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use” (ISO, 2018). For online surveys, the concrete context can only be determined to a limited extent in a quantitative study, since it can be assumed that there is an undefined situation in which a user interacts with a technical device. Also with regard to the concrete user, we can only expect that it may be a more or less typical participant. However, the components of efficiency, satisfaction and effectiveness can be derived and applied for a sufficient usability analysis.

A fundamental problem with online surveys on smartphones are high dropout rates (Sarraf et al., 2014; Mavletova, 2013; Lambert & Miller, 2015). Mavletova and Couper (2015) see a lack of opportunity to skip individual questions as a general reason for high dropout rates in online surveys, as this puts a burden on the participants. Tourangeau et al. (2013) also agree with this assumption, adding that data quality may be lower if answering all questions is mandatory. However, so far there are no studies examining this condition in more detail. Many dropouts and missing values can indicate dissatisfaction and thus a lack of usability.

Processing time is another problem of online surveys on smartphones. Some studies show longer processing time on smartphones (Lugtig et al., 2016; Mavletova, 2013; Horwitz, 2014). Especially when tables are used (Couper & Peterson, 2017) – a common form of presentation on smartphones – or if respondents have to zoom frequently (Olmsted-Hawala et al., 2016), mobile processing times are significantly higher. A high investment of time can therefore make processing inefficient and, as already mentioned, influence the usability component of efficiency negatively.

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