City Research Online

Adapting survey design for smartphones: lessons from usability testing and survey implementation

Hanson, T. & Matthews, P. (2017). Adapting survey design for smartphones: lessons from usability testing and survey implementation. Social Research Practice(3 (Win), pp. 37-44.


A growing proportion of people are choosing to complete online social surveys using smartphones. As ownership and use of smartphones continues to grow, it is crucial that we adapt survey design to enable people to complete questionnaires on their device of choice, without having a negative effect on the respondent’s experience.This paper draws on data from a range of UK social surveys to show how device use affects people’s experience and behaviour when taking part in surveys. Results from usability testing on Understanding Society, in which respondents completed the survey on smartphones, allow us to illustrate the questionnaire design challenges associated with completing social surveys on mobile devices. Based on this testing, and other evidence from social research, we highlight core principles to improve the experience of completing surveys on smartphones; draw conclusions based on our work to date; and consider possible next steps.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: The author(s) holds copyright of their material.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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