What is Survey Programming: How To Do It Like Experts

Survey programming

Survey programming is an intricate task that combines the art of questionnaire design with the complexity of software programming.

The goal is to create a collection of questions setup in a way to effectively gather and analyze data on a specific scale.

In our market research work, we've found that efficiently harnessing survey programming can drastically reduce human error and false data, as well as optimize data collection. 

By automating the distribution and tailoring the flow of surveys, we gather rich insights about consumer behavior, preferences, and opinions that drive strategic business decisions.

In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into what survey programming is and how to do it.

What Exactly is Survey Programming?

Survey programming involves transforming a questionnaire from a document into a working survey that people can interact with. It's crucial for gathering important insights that help shape business strategies. 

In our experience, a great online survey is not just about asking questions; it's also about creating a smooth user experience for respondents to gather high-quality and relevant data.

Programming a survey also ensures data integrity by reducing human errors, limiting responses to specific options, and automating question flow. It helps prevent false or fraudulent answers, which could corrupt the data. 

This leads to cleaner data and reduces the need for manual intervention. In essence, survey programming doesn't just help gather insights; it fine-tunes the data needed to achieve market research goals.

Benefits of Great Survey Programming

Well-designed surveys capture the essence of what researchers need, shave off unnecessary time, and hone in on critical insights.

As an online survey company, data accuracy is our lifeline, and effective survey programming is the beacon that guides it. Crafted with clarity and precision, these surveys reduce respondent confusion, leading to more reputable data.

Excellent programming also helps with productivity. 

Not only can it help us get quality data faster but also give insights that are more relevant and able to meet the goals of the project. Which of course leads to quality data driven decision making that we preach for our clients.

As detail-obsessed data experts, we know the power of survey programming to bring out the most potential in a well-written survey. Since survey questions can only do well in a well-programmed environment, it’s critical to make sure that both aspects are on point.

What You Need Before Programming a Survey

Before diving into survey programming, we've found it's crucial to have a well-thought-out plan.

In our work, this preparation often spells the difference between a survey that captures insightful data and one that falls flat. 

Here's a rundown of what we consider before programming any survey.

Setting clear objectives

A clear objective sets the direction of the project from the start. We always clarify what we aim to discover, as this guides the entire survey design process. It's akin to having a destination before mapping out a journey.

Designing direct questions

Next, we focus on question design. Crafting questions that are direct, unbiased, and easy to comprehend is our bread and butter. Any ambiguity can derail the data's accuracy, so we choose our words with care.

Choosing the right target audience

Target audience knowledge is pivotal. Understanding who will be filling out the survey informs our language and question complexity.

For example, are you programming a survey for B2B audiences or programming a survey for B2C audiences?

It's a bit like selecting the right key for a lock—they must align perfectly to open the door to valuable insights.

Selecting the right survey tool

Infrastructure matters, particularly the survey platform.

We consider its capabilities—such as logic branching and mobile compatibility—ensuring they meet the survey's needs.

It's like choosing a robust foundation before building a house; it supports everything that comes after.

Pretesting the survey

Lastly, we look at pre-testing or soft launching the survey.

Running a pilot with a small group helps us iron out any wrinkles, similar to a dress rehearsal before a big performance. It’s our secret weapon to ensure the main event goes off without a hitch.

For those in market research or anyone interested in gathering reliable data, being mindful of these pre-programming aspects is invaluable.

From our professional experience - we know that spending time here saves a lot of fixing and frowning later on.

How is Survey Programming Used In Market Research

Logic & Skipping

Logic and skipping patterns are integrated into surveys, which allow respondents to bypass irrelevant questions based on their previous answers.

In our work, we've found that this targeted approach reduces respondent fatigue and improves the relevance of the collected data.

Skip Logic on a Multiple Choice (Only One Answer) question

Through survey programming, we embed logic into surveys that guide respondents down different paths based on their answers.

Let’s say you’ve completed a survey about pet ownership. If you indicate you have a cat, the survey may skip dog-related questions.

This technique, known as skip logic, is one of many that ensures each respondent's time is respected and only relevant data is gathered.


Branching is a technique where a respondent's path through the survey can fork in different directions depending on their answers.

It helps in getting deeper insights from specific segments without overburdening other participants with unrelated questions.

Dynamic Text

Incorporating dynamic text into surveys is a game-changer.

This feature auto-populates text, such as names or previously provided answers, to make the survey feel more personalized and engaging for the participant.

Showing or Hiding Specific Points

Strategically showing or hiding certain questions or statements can be used to ensure respondents only see what's relevant to them.

It's a tool that keeps surveys lean and focused, which is something we consistently apply in our market research methodologies.

Scoring Surveys

Scoring allows us to assign values to certain responses that can then be totaled for an easy assessment of a respondent's answers.

It's a powerful way to quantify data for subsequent analysis and often leads to more straightforward insights into consumer behavior.

Survey Testing and Deployment

In the realm of survey programming, we've found that the pivot from a well-crafted survey to successful data collection hinges on thorough testing and strategic deployment.

These components ensure that the survey functions flawlessly and the data gathered is both accurate and valuable.

In our work with surveys, we employ a variety of pre-testing techniques to uncover any potential issues before a survey goes live.

We typically conduct methods like pilot testing which works with a small, representative segment of the target population.

This real-world rehearsal not only tests the survey logic and functionality but also provides a glimpse into the potential responses and data patterns we might see at a larger scale.

It's a crucial step for validating survey length, understanding, and overall flow.

After Deployment

When deploying a survey, we carefully consider the mode of distribution. This can be online, in person, or through other channels.

We determine the ideal time and day for launch based on our target demographic's habits. This can significantly impact response rates.

Furthermore, we keep a close eye on completion rates and respondent feedback post-deployment. This helps us identify any areas that may require immediate attention or adjustment for future iterations.

By focusing on these strategic aspects, we ensure the survey reaches and connects with the intended audience. Ultimately, this leads to a successful data collection effort.

Contact Our Survey Programming Company

Drive Research is a full-service market research company, specializing in survey programming. We have 80+ years of combined experience in crafting questions, structuring surveys effectively, and ensuring that the data collected is reliable.

Unlock the full potential of your surveys with expert help! Increase data quality, streamline processes, and gain valuable insights.

Contact us to revolutionize your survey experience today.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

austin author bio

Austin Parker

Austin has an extensive background in SEO as he's been blogging since 16 years old back when the internet was in its infancy. As fitting, he holds a Bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in creative writing.

Learn more about Austin, here.

subscribe to our blog

Online Surveys