Online Survey Testing Checklist | How to Program an Online Survey

So your online survey is written and ready to go? In this post, our market research company in NY will discuss the next logical step for all online surveys... programming! Survey programming can become tricky very easily if the survey has a lot of routing, piping, etc. Routing and piping is skip patterns in a survey (e.g. if the answer to Q1 = YES, skip to Q3 and so on). First time writing a survey? In a previous post, I discussed 4 survey writing tips!

In market research, the research tool developed is everything, and by that I mean if the survey is not accurate and proofed fully, the data collected will be affected.

To ensure the survey is programmed correctly, review the online survey testing checklist below which breaks down the survey testing process into 10 steps.

Coffee is not required to program an online survey...but it's encouraged.

Online Survey Testing Checklist | How to Program an Online Survey

Step 1: Check that all questions have been included

This first step might sound too easy and obvious, but even experienced market research professionals can make a simple mistake (especially when the survey is lengthy).

To complete this step of the survey testing process, scroll through your online survey software with the survey document open and check that all questions have been included and are in the correct order.

Take a sip of your coffee and move to Step 2.

Step 2: Check that all question formats are correct

Since mistakes can happen, it's always best to go through your online survey with your word document open for a second time to ensure all question formats are accurate.This means ensuring single response questions only allow survey respondents to select only one response, or that multiple response questions allow survey respondents to select more than one response.

As discussed previously, data accuracy is key. Making a mistake here can dramatically change your results, so while this step might sound easy, it's also critical.

Step 3: Ensure disqualification/screener questions are routed correctly

Want to disqualify or screen people out of your online survey? Make sure that survey programming is working correctly. When testing your online survey, these questions should require a response and should route accordingly.

Routing from disqualification questions can mean sending respondents to your sweepstakes entry page, to a disqualification message, or to the online survey end page. The type of criteria you are screening for will determine which option is chosen.

Step 4: Ensure all routing is working as intended

This is a big piece to online survey testing and is an importance piece to a future step as well (Step 9). For the purposes of this step, review all programmed survey routing question by question.

To clarify I am referring to the actual online survey program coding. Oftentimes, market research professionals will notice mistakes here before actually testing the survey online.

During this step, also check to make sure question options like randomization of responses, inverse responses, etc. are accurate.

Ensuring accurate routing is key

Step 5: Re-check for spelling and grammatical errors

This is another quick and easy step. After programming the online survey re-read all questions and answers to ensure there are no spelling and grammatical errors.

It'd be a drag to pause fieldwork to make a simple fix like this!

Step 6: Check formatting

This is another simple one!

Oftentimes, market research teams have a standard format that can be adjusted based on the type of survey. On this step for testing your survey, check the font, font size, bolding, use of colors, use of buttons (previous/next/submit) and/or progress bars, logos, and background images.

Step 7: Review the disqualification message

Have disqualification or screener questions? Want to let those respondents know they have disqualified? Here's your reminder to craft that message.

Usually these messages are short and do not allow the option for respondents to review their answer to the prior question.

Step 8: Add the survey thank you page

Quick reminder! Before you start testing the online version of your survey, make sure to add the survey end page (AKA the survey thank you page).

When programming a survey this is typically one of the final steps.

"Thanks for bean part of our survey!"

Step 9: Survey programmer testing

It's now time for the moment we have all been waiting for... testing the survey online! This is likely one of the biggest time commitments on this list of survey testing steps. Here is where you will want to ensure all of the previous steps are 100% complete and accurate.

Realize before you begin this step that there will likely be some sort of edit needed whether is has to do with routing, spelling/grammar, disqualification questions, or formatting. Survey programming can be complicated, so it's important to take your time and not rush the process.

Approach your survey testing like there is 1 error in the version and it is your job to find it. With this mindset you'll pay close attention to all of the details.

Step 10: Ask others to test

Think you programmed your online survey perfectly? Great! Now pass the online survey link along to a colleague with the survey document and see if they have any edits, comments, or suggestions. This final step is for accuracy and piece of mind before unleashing your online survey into the world wide web!

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Well, if you couldn't tell that we loved market research before let me assure you that at Drive Research we are passionate about everything market research. Learn more about our services ranging from Voice of Customer (VoC) to in-depth interviews to focus groups (and yes, online surveys).

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