Harnessing the Power of the Progress Bar -2 Survey Mistakes to Avoid!
Over the past few years, the progress bar has become the online surveyor’s best friend. When it comes to increasing completion rates, the capability of adding a progress bar has given online surveys a substantial advantage over telephone surveying. Yes we are talking about that bar at the top of your survey that slowly fills up while you zoom through a questionnaire. And though it may seem insignificant, when used correctly this handy little tool will give your response rates the dramatic boost it needs. On the other hand, a misused progress bar can frustrate your respondents, making them drop out faster than freshmen at an astrophysics course. Today we’ll briefly go over what makes the progress bar so powerful and how to ensure you’re optimizing its use!
How a Small Progress Bar Makes a Big Difference!
The progress bar serves a dual purpose when it comes to keeping your respondents engaged with your survey. Continually updating the respondent on the distance they have gone in your questionnaire gives the respondent a subconscious feeling of both investment and accomplishment. This builds a growing sense of obligation in the respondent’s mind, making them feel more and more committed to completing the survey.
This feeling of obligation and increasing investment is usually the extra push needed to get participants through the last questions of a survey. That is why successful surveys usually have a questionnaire design that places the more difficult or sensitive questions at the end. These are the questions respondents will most likely drop out because of. However, when the progress bar shows the survey 90% complete, the respondent will be more willing to complete these few difficult questions in order to reach the final page. If you are interested in learning how to best structure a questionnaire, check out our FluidSurveys University article, “Maximize Response Rates and Minimize Bias with Proper Survey Structure.”
The other thing to be said of a progress bar is the feeling of swiftness it provides for the respondents. Studies have shown that survey takers who have a constant reminder that they are making progress on a survey feel the process is faster and flows easier. Leaving a respondent to guess how far they are in the questionnaire, will make them feel like they are at your mercy filling out a survey that could go on forever. This will lead people to drop out of the survey immediately after they feel fatigued.
The 2 Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Progress Bar
So we know why the progress bar is important to both the survey taking experience and your projects’ final completion rate. Here are two important “DON’TS” to keep in mind when using the progress bar:
- Having Uneven Questions per Page: The progress bar is only effective if it is accurate. As a tool, the progress bar only updates as the respondent moves to the next page. Now consider your survey from the respondent’s perspective. If the survey taker is speeding through the first few pages holding three questions each, their feeling of swiftness will be crushed when they hit a page holding 8-10. Not only this, they may feel betrayed because they are using the progress bar as a marker. Leaving an equal amount of questions per page keeps your survey’s flow consistent, the progress bar accurate, and your respondents happy.
Want to learn more about how many questions should be placed on a given survey page? Check out our article, “Join the Debate! How Many Questions per Survey Page?”
- Using Improper Survey Logic: Using survey logic with the progress bar can be incredibly dangerous. Remember, the progress bar reflects the page the respondent is on. If you are using advanced logic like page skipping, branching, or looping, it is usually best to remove the progress bar completely. Imagine skipping several pages and going from 12% to 78% in a single click. This wouldn’t make sense to your respondents, who don’t know how the survey works on the backend. To them, the survey just jumped over 50% for no reason. Even worse would be pairing looping logic with the progress bar. Consider that a looping question sends the respondent backwards in the survey. This will make the progress bar look like it is repeating itself over and over again, placing the respondent into a seemingly endless and sadistic cycle of survey torture. For information on how to hide the progress bar check out our documentation by clicking here.
However, there are ways to use survey logic without compromising your progress bar. Instead of relying on skipping or branching, which manipulates survey pages, try using hide/show logic. Hide/show allows you to show different questions to different respondents on the same page, which leaves the page number the same. Also, as an alternative to looping, try using extraction. Extraction will group all the previously selected responses onto a single page, instead of using piping to replay the pages over and over again.
There you have it! Stay clear of these mistakes and you will ensure you’re optimizing the value of the progress bar, while at the same time remaining honest with your respondents.
This Article is 90% Read
Here we are at the end of the article, and you now have all the tools you need to use the progress bar successfully. For more information on how to edit the FluidSurveys progress bar, check out our documentation by clicking here. Otherwise, you’re ready to start building your survey. Need to set up an account? Contact us or visit our pricing page, and you will be gathering responses in no time!
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