Spark Chart Surveys

Scrolling vs. Multiple Pages in Surveys: What’s best?

It’s challenging to write a good survey. There are a variety of obstacles you must overcome to get everything just right. One of them is whether to make people scroll or use multiple pages.

What is the ideal number of pages?

When it comes to surveys you have several formatting options. You can put all of your questions on a single page;  you can put one question on a page at a time or you can have multiple questions on multiple pages.

Researchers have been studying the effectiveness of each survey design style for more than a decade. And what they have discovered is that paging vs. scrolling designs made for desktop-accessed web surveys made very little difference in survey completion and abandonment rates.

Neither style proved to be the “right” way to present the questions. The only visible tendency was for respondents to skip questions on scrolling pages. The rationale for this is that offering too many questions on a single page may cause survey fatigue.

Small screens need smarter designs

Tablets and mobile phones create additional considerations for web survey designs.

Since the advent of small screens, using a paging design with one question per page has appeared to be a good option. Think about the clicking effort, though. After every question, your respondent needs to click Next. For long surveys, this gets boring really fast.

Compounding this issue is that internet connectivity for mobile phones is often slow or unreliable, increasing the time it takes users to complete the survey. This can result in respondents inadvertently exiting your survey due to a lost connection.

A 2014 study conducted by US and Russian researchers validated the assumption that using a paging design could prove difficult for mobile respondents. They found that it took respondents significantly longer to complete mobile surveys that used a paging design (compared to a scrolling design).

The researchers also discovered that respondents had higher levels of dissatisfaction when presented with a paging design. This was because of more technical difficulties they encountered while taking the survey. And, they found that regardless of the design, respondents tended to skip about the same number of questions.

4 tips for smarter survey designs

Below are four tips that will help you come up with the best design for your next survey.

  1. Think about the length of the survey

Is your survey brief with just a few questions? Do you think most respondents will fill it out on a mobile phone? If yes, include every question on a single page.

  1. Think about the number of questions.

Does your survey have a lot of questions without being too long? Strike a middle ground by using a few pages with a few questions on each page. Be careful though! Don’t include just one question per page or it will take longer to complete.

  1. Think about complexity.

Are you using a complex survey with multiple different features and question types? You’ll want to use multiple pages in this scenario. If you don’t, the question relationships may not function properly.

  1. Remember that sometimes several pages can be beneficial

Does your survey consist of several pages? If it does, sometimes it can benefit you. At the very least you will be sure to capture at least some data from your respondents. This is particularly the case if your respondents are using a mobile phone. For multiple-page surveys, then you will capture data entered before a connection is interrupted. That doesn’t happen in a scrolling design.

The key to working out whether to using a paged or scrolling design is really to think about your audience. Try to find out what platforms your respondents will most likely be using, and then use the design that fits best.


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