Adapting surveys to the modern world: Comparing a research messenger design to a regular responsive design for online surveys


Online surveys are increasingly completed on smartphones. There are several ways to structure online surveys so as to create an optimal experience for any screen size. For example, communicating through applications (apps) such as WhatsApp and Snapchat closely resembles natural turn-by-turn conversations between individuals. Web surveys currently mimic the design of paper questionnaires mostly, leading to a survey experience that may not be optimal when completed on smartphones. In this paper, we compare a research messenger design, which mimics a messenger app type of communication, to a responsive survey design. We investigate whether response quality is similar between the two designs and whether respondents’ satisfaction with the survey is higher for either version. Our results show no differences for primacy effects, number of nonsubstantive answers, and dropout rate. The length of open-ended answers was shorter for the research messenger survey compared to the responsive design, and the overall time of completion was longer in the research messenger survey. The evaluation at the end of the survey showed no clear indication that respondents liked the research messenger survey more than the responsive design. Future research should focus on how to optimally design online mixed-device surveys in order to increase respondent satisfaction and data quality.

Survey Practice 13,1,