Why do you need to test your online survey?
- Set a Baseline for Response Rates
- Align with your Stakeholders
- To Remove Tunnel Vision
- Preview on Various Mediums
- Retain Valid Data
- Check All Branches and Snags
After you have burned the midnight oil to cook up your detailed online survey questionnaire, you may want nothing more than to send them out and start drawing results. But, you would be making a huge mistake! Always perform a pilot test first. Here is why, in any study, a very critical and integral step is to test your online survey before a full launch.
Set a Baseline for Response Rates
Testing your survey will allow you to create a rough estimation of the interest level and completion rate of your survey. This also plays into figuring out if there need to be some major improvements and revisions, just by referencing the percentage of test respondents that you were able to gather.
It will also inform you whether you can hit your quotas and generate the number of participants within the demographic you need to reach out to in order to achieve your intended sample size.
Align with your Stakeholders
Sending the pilot test to your key stakeholders might throw a wrench in your plan, but it is imperative to verify if data is in line with the goals and results required. They might also steer you back to the primary objective that they intended the online survey for.
But, make sure that you don’t budge to any extraneous requests that drive you further away from your initial intent or cram other questions to get more ‘bang-for-buck’. Always keep a definitive end goal in mind, and that goes for them as well.
Fresh Eyes to Remove Tunnel Vision
It’s always good to get the perspective of your prospective audience before you accelerate the process. You’ll be able to whittle down any overlooked errors, ambiguities, and irregularities with the help of a subset of people that you will cater to. They may have better clarity of the study than you to some extent as they are not too close to the work and can make a judgment without bias. Get live feedback to address the issues before you go to scale and expand your resources.
You can work on the language and communication of the questionnaire at this stage. Remove jargon and terminologies that may alienate the respondents, and also create a broader range for your target demographic. The tone of your language might be catering only to a certain audience and now is your chance to adjust it.
There is also the issue of overall perception, and a small grammatical error or an erroneous question may lead your respondents to think that this test may not have come from a credible source. It creates the perception of an unprofessional and undercooked survey, and this may lead them to abandon the test altogether.
Preview on Various Mediums
Different browsers may display your online survey differently, so best to see how it plays out as published. You also have to consider whether your respondents may answer via mobile phone, laptop, desktop computer, or some other form of gadget. This also allows you to revisit the initial display and format you’ve set up to make the necessary adjustments. This will keep your survey presentable and well thought-out for easier completion and seamless data input.
Retain Valid Data
Every respondent that you have at this stage is crucial because it will be magnified as you go to scale and send it out to the greater public. Being ahead of the curve and testing your online survey saves your precious collected data by making these early corrections. To some extent, the data you do collect with this exercise is also valid and can already be added to your research as auxiliary findings.
Check All Branches and Snags
This also allows you to manage and explore effective page logic, question piping, and substitutions to make tweaks based on the feedback gathered from your pilot survey. It’s even possible to discover possible funnels to address certain patterns and behaviors observed as you test your online survey. You can also gauge the effectiveness of your invitation text and e-mails, as well as whether you have enough of a pull to entice from your intended sample population.
One mistake may make or break your survey, so a test survey will ensure that you have been thorough in your process. You will have an impeccable set of clear questions to send out online to gather quality data. Remember, once you send out your online survey, it will roll out completely and you won’t be able to stop the influx of respondents. You will have spent a large number of resources and effort only to find out that your online survey is invalid, and all your hard work will be for naught.