Dear Survey Makers: Take Some Notes, Would You Kindly?

Updated on January 24, 2018
Renny Windsong profile image

Renny is a freelance content creator with a deep love of pets, tiny living, green living, tech, gaming, and living well on a tight budget.

First, A Little Survey Love

Let me start off by saying that, despite everything, I love taking surveys. No matter how frustrating, monotonous, or glitchy they become, it's still a nice experience. I'll admit that sometimes I'm apathetic about the topic, but it's still a good way to pass the time if nothing else.

There have been many interesting surveys, though, and this is what makes things fun. I have seen concepts for things that make me truly excited, and I've seen concepts so idiotic I have to wonder what the developers were smoking for breakfast. I've even seen concepts I've taken surveys about come to fruition! That was pretty cool, to be able to stand there and say "Hey, I helped shape that!".

I'll admit, I didn't think it would be, but it was. I did originally get into taking surveys just for the pocket money, but now I do it to see what new things I might be able to try or use in the future.

I mean, let's face it. Have you ever stood in the store and wished there were more product selections available, or thought something was the most moronic thing you've ever seen? Surveys let you say that out loud, to the people who matter.

It's Not All Peaches, Though

This is where the 'despite it all' comment comes in.

Some surveys are well designed, easy to understand, and a joy to take. Others can be a little strange, or just long and tedious, but you're still able to finish them in the end. Then, there's the ones that you end up just closing out of, because you simply can't complete them for whatever reason.

It could be glitches, idiotic questions, or just a sheer tediousness that bores you literally to tears. It could even be all of the above! Either way, you end up noping right out of the silly thing.

Even the best surveys aren't immune to hiccups, honestly. Typos, weirdly worded questions, and a lack of appropriate answer choices can sometimes make even the most amusing survey a flat-out pain in the rump.

That being said, I'll probably be taking surveys until I'm old and grey, no matter how many problems they may have. That doesn't mean that I don't have a few suggestions for the survey makers, however.

So, guys, if you're reading this and you create surveys, maybe you could work on a few of these things, yeah? I mean, the whole purpose of creating a survey is to get the answers you want, how are you supposed to do that if no one can complete your survey properly?

As someone who's been taking surveys for nearly a decade, these are the things I feel could make the whole experience go so much smoother for everyone.

Revamp Your Demographics Sections

Seriously, I understand the whole demographics bit. You wouldn't want a guy taking a survey about female menstrual products, or a female answering questions about jock itch, for example.

There just needs to be a better standard of how these stats are gathered, and there needs to be a wider variety of choices in some of the questions. For some surveys most of these questions won't matter, and that's okay. The ones that do, however, need to pull it together!

Where they're located in the survey would be a perfect example. There are a lot of surveys that ask the demo questions right at the beginning, and that's perfectly fine. If I'm going to get boinked out of a survey, it's much less frustrating and time-consuming to have it happen at the beginning.

It's kind of like going into a job interview process that takes hours, only to have them tell you "Oh, yeah sorry we've already filled your spot, but since you showed up we let you go ahead just to get the experience anyway!"

Right bloody frustrating, that is. Now, I do also get that there are hundred of people attempting a particular survey at any one time. Just because I qualified at the beginning doesn't mean that my specific demo pool won't fill up while I'm completing it. What sucks though, is to get to the end of the survey only to find out that you didn't need any more answers from a single broke female, or you were looking for a different range to begin with.

It honestly makes you feel cheated, somehow. I know we're told that your answers are thrown out if you disqualify, but sometimes you have to wonder, are they really? Or did you just put the demo questions at the end so you could get our answers without having to pay out any incentive you've offered?

Speaking of incentives, that brings me to the questions themselves, particularly about work and income. Granted, it doesn't help that as a freelance writer, I really have no idea where to classify myself specifically in an industry or job role. I think, however, there needs to be a bit more clarification on the maker's end.

I can't tell you how many surveys I've taken where it asks if I'm employed full time or part time, to then only give me the question of whether I own my own business and have people working for me, or if I work for a corporation. Most surveys don't even give you a freelancing option, and half the time you don't get the option to pick 'neither' on a question such as the above.

I guess technically, when you work as a freelancer you ARE your own business, but there are instances where you just do contract work for companies, or gigs for businesses. To me, that's not really owning your own business. The only reason why this matters, is often times right after you say you work for yourself, you're led to a bunch of questions about owning a business that don't apply or that you can't answer, and you're forced to quit the survey.

As gigs and gig-style jobs become more prevalent in this iffy job economy, surveys need to get with the times and adjust their questions accordingly. Especially when it's an important part of the survey itself!

I've noticed that some surveys are starting to update, offering better choices for living situations, gender, and so on. This is great, and I'd love to see it continue. Not only do I feel they will get a better feel for who's taking the surveys, but it helps me to feel like I'm being completely honest, which is a point that's hugely stressed. If I'm living with the person I'm dating, I don't like being forced to pick 'single' and 'living with a friend/roommate'. It feels weird. Maybe that's just my personal quirk, though.

Fix Your Bloody Answer Choices

I've had to quit so many interesting surveys, simply because I've run into a question that I can't answer. If I've already said I've never flown in an airplane at all, how am I supposed to answer whether my last flight was business or personal, with no option to say 'neither, I've never flown?'

Please, for the love of Gaia, don't stick us with unanswerable questions. Even if you only care if someone's dog is a puppy or an older dog, all of us who don't have dogs need an option too.

This is even worse if the previous question was "Do you have a dog?", and we answered "No." If I just told you I don't have a dog, how am I supposed to tell you how old it isn't?

I know some of this is on the survey platforms, and not the maker, but there needs to be better coding. It shouldn't be that hard to code an 'if than else' function that will carry us past these kinds of questions, allowing us to either continue on with the survey, or disqualify out and let someone else take our place.

Please, please, please, I beg you to make sure your questions always have a way to say 'this does not apply/none of the above'. Especially if it did in the previous question, about the same subject.

Drop The Drag-n-Drop

While this might have originally been conceived as a way to make surveys more interactive and fun, the reality is that it's mostly just tedious, boring, and aggravating.

It's tolerable in small doses, but when it drags on question after question it really loses the whole deal. Not only are the repeated click and drags for all 20 choices in all 100 questions mind-numbing, it's also glitchy, and a nightmare on a mobile device!

Let's not forget something that's really important here -- not everyone has touch screens, and there are quite a few people who use a laptop and don't have or use a mouse. Do you have any idea how hard it is to repeatedly drag options all over the place with your tiny trackpad? It hurts, after a while, believe me.

Don't Get So Personal

Not only is this annoying, but it's incredibly creepy as well.

Unless I'm signing up for a in-home trial, an online video interview focus group, or joining an actual survey panel or earning platform, there's no need!

I know you generally need my state and zip code, especially if it's about local services, but I don't see the need for the rest of it. You don't need my full name, and you certainly don't need my home address! I can understand wanting my email address if there's a follow-up survey opportunity, but that's where I draw the line.

For those people who say that it's for quality control to make sure you're getting the best answers, or to make sure each person only takes the survey once or once per household, that's a load of bollocks. People bloody lie all the time, and there's nothing stopping them from entering false information whatsoever.

The whole point of surveys is be anonymous -- it even says in the disclaimer that nothing will be used to identify a specific individual and all answers will be reported in aggregate! So why the *bleep* do you really need that information? You don't!

If I wanted all of my information to be known, then I'd write the companies personally myself! What's next? Mother's maiden name, blood type, and social security number?

Come on, guys. Don't be creepy. We get enough of that from everyone else.

Bug Test Your Stuff

Computers will be computers, and what works on one system won't always work on another, I get that. That doesn't stop you from doing some basic bench testing and trial runs of your survey to make sure everything's working like it should be.

Yeah, glitches are going to happen, that's sometimes unavoidable. Older operating systems, older browsers, internet connection issues, and server hiccups are all things that you probably have little to no control over.

If I'm running through your survey and I can still see the basic code that makes the whole thing run, however, that's a completely different story. Not only does it make the survey impossible to take, it looks highly unprofessional.

To Sum Up

Hello, my name is Inigo -- wait, wrong rant :).

Humor aside, it's not just a matter of an 'irritating experience' or 'not getting the promised incentive'. The whole point of surveys is to the answers you need to make your customers happy, fix things they don't like or that don't work, and give them options that do.

Without your customers, who's going to buy or use your product? If you think good customer service doesn't extend to your surveys, then you're wrong.

If you don't care enough to make sure that people are able to take your surveys and complete them properly, then how do you expect us to know that you care about us as customers or what we say?

You want answers and we want new or better products, so let's work together to make this happen, people!

Also, those little surveys at the end of the survey about how the survey was? Yeah, no. Please stop with those, they're just annoying. Quite often, there's no way to accurately describe just how the survey was, and most people who answer say it was okay or alright just so they can get done with the bloody thing and move on.

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