Apparently survey fatigue is now a thing, and by thing I mean a subject that can influence digital policy and decision making. Whilst my GP may not need to consider it a medical condition just yet, it is certainly a factor when designing business processes and strategizing around web application choices.
Now we all know the barriers to gathering data via survey, aka gigantic web forms of doom, and we should all by now be smart as to how marketeers and strategists try to seduce us to partake…seriously, it will only take you another 2 minutes to read this article and if you reach the end, you will be entered in to a super prize draw to win something of considerably less value than the time it took you to get to the end.
I am by no means an analytical powerhouse who knows the absolute ins and outs of surveys, leave that to Merkle and the like, but as one who has grown up preaching benevolent user experiences and the psychology of interface design, I think it is fair to say that we need to disrupt the common, all-garden survey way beyond the half-hearted incentives or inaccurate time promises. There are only so many ways to design a progress bar for goodness sake.
So when is a survey not a survey, and how can we start to design against survey fatigue? Until such time as our devices can read our thoughts (not long now eh Zuckerberg?), we need to continue to innovate with our data capture methods.
One such method is to go micro. By not serving your surveys in a single chunk, and by splitting the delivery of capture throughout an elongated period, across multiple, single-question forms prompted toward at different and perpetual times of day, you may ease the strain and negative perceptions of the user. But wont that increase abandonment I here you say, isn’t that dependent on notifications that may just be ignored or mount up? Well potentially yes, but that has not stopped many successful apps from doing it and succeeding. Daylio and Elevate Brain Training are a couple that spring to mind, but they also add another fantastic ingredient…inspiring visual language.
Daylio is a mood tracker that prompts the user once a day to tap on an icon that represents their mood. After a week or so of tapping, you have a log of your mood patterns to explore and correlate with other factors in your quantified toolkit…
Elevate is little more hardcore. In order to place the user in a ranked percentile of all other users, the application needs to gather performance data in 4 categories: writing, speaking, maths and reading. To do this, a user is asked to play 5 short games (from an ever-expanding library) focusing on one of the 4 categories. Each microgame takes about a minute to complete and contributes to a balanced scorecard for the user. I particularly like the game that asks me to tap on the correct synonym or antonym in order to get a rocket ship to the moon…and if I click it quickly enough, I get bonus points. And that’s it, by enjoying and challenging myself for a minute or so every morning, I have helped Elevate capture the data their business model relies upon…and I have not lost my mind on the grind that is the Central Line.
Beyond bite sizing and gamifying, other methods of transforming your survey model can involve companion devices, or sensors that basically automate the process, but as I mentioned, these currently cannot capture what you are thinking. They can however capture many other factors that may be prevalent to capturing productivity data or the like. Our friends over at AWA are doing just that by combining occupancy sensor data (whether an employee is sitting at their desk, in a meeting room) with visually enhanced surveys (tap an image to answer a simple question) to help clients get a full picture of workspace utilisation and now, increasingly, productivity.
Don’t get me wrong, workspace analysis is considerably wider a subject than sensors and surveys, but when your business relies heavily on survey interaction, the time is now to innovate.