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Dillman’s Principles for Web Questionnaire Cheat Sheet by

How to best design questionaires for web
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Principles Designing Web Quesit­ion­aires

1. Introduce the Web questi­onnaire with a welcome screen that is motiva­tional, emphasizes the ease of respon­ding, and instructs respon­dents about how to proceed to the next page.
2. Provide a PIN number for limiting access only to those in the sample.
3. Begin the Web questi­onnaire with a question that is fully visible on the first screen of the questi­onn­aire, and will be easily compre­hended and answered by all respon­dents.
4. Present each question in a conven­tional format similar to that normally used on paper self-a­dmi­nis­tered
questi­onn­aires.
5. Restrain the use of color so that figure­/ground consis­tency and readab­ility are mainta­ined, naviga­tional flow is unimpeded, and measur­ement properties of questions are mainta­ined.
6. Avoid differ­ences in the visual appearance of questions that result from different screen
config­ura­tions, operating systems, browsers, partial screen displays, and wrap around text.
7. Provide specific instru­ctions on how to take each necessary computer action for responding to the questi­onnaire and give other necessary instru­ctions at the point where they are needed.
8. Use drop-down boxes sparingly, consider the mode implic­ation, and identify each with a “click here” instru­ction.
9. Do not require respon­dents to provide an answer to each question before being allowed to answer any subsequent ones.
10. Provide skip directions in a way that encourages marking of answers and being able to click to the next applicable question.
11. Construct Web questi­onn­aires so they scroll from question to question unless order effects are a concern, or when telephone and Web survey results are being combined.
12. When the number of answer choices exceeds the number that can be displayed in a single column on one screen, consider double­-ba­nking with an approp­riate grouping device to link them together.
13. Use graphical symbols or words that convey a sense of where the respondent is in the completion process, but avoid those that require signif­icant increases in computer resources.
14. Exercise restraint in the use of question structures that have known measur­ement problems on paper questi­onn­aires, such as check all that apply and open ended questions.
Derived from: Dillman, D.A. (2007) Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method, New Jersey: Wiley.

Step 1: Define desired navigation path

Define a desired navigation path for reading all inform­ation presented on each page of the questi­on.
Write each question in a way that minimizes the need to reread portions in order to comprehend the response task.
Place the instru­ctions exactly where that inform­ation is needed and not at the beginning of the questi­onn­aire.
Place items with the same response categories into an item-i­n-a­-series format, but do it carefully.
Ask one question at a time.
Minimize the use of matrices.
 

Step 2 Create Visual Navigation Guides

Create visual navigation guides and use them in a consistent way to get respon­dents to follow the prescribed naviga­tional path and correctly interpret the written inform­ati­on.
Increase the size of written elements to attract attention.
Increase the brightness or color (shading) of visual elements to attract attention and establish approp­riate groupings.
Use spacing to identify approp­riate groupings of visual elements.
Use similarity to identify approp­riate groupings of visual elements.
Maintain a consistent figure­/group format to make the response task easier.
Maintain simpli­city, regula­rity, and symmetry to make the response task easier.
Begin asking question in the upper left quadrant; place any inform­ation not needed by the respondent in the lower right quadrant.
Use the largest or brightest symbols to identify the starting point on each page.
Identify the beginning of each succeeding question in a consistent way.
Number questions consec­utively and simply from beginning to end.
Use a consistent figure­/ba­ckg­round format to encourage the readings of all words.
Limit the use of reverse print to section headings or question numbers.
Place more blank space between questions than between subcom­ponents of questions.
Use dark print for questions and light print for answer choices.
Place special instru­ctions inside of question numbers and not as freest­anding entities.
Optional or occasi­onally needed instru­ction should be separated from the question statement by font or symbol variat­ions.
Do not place instru­ctions in a separate instru­ction book or in a separate section of the questi­onn­aire.
Use of lightly shaded colors as background fields on which to write all questions provides an effective naviga­tional guide to respon­dents.
When shaded background fields are used, identi­fic­ation of all answer spaces in white helps to reduce non-re­sponse.
List answer categories vertically instead of horizo­ntally.
Place answer spaces consis­tently to either the left or right of category labels.
Use numbers or simple answer boxes for recording of answers.
Vertical alignment of question subcom­ponents among consec­utive questions eases the response task.
Avoid double or triple banking of answer choices.
Maintain spaces between answer choices that are consistent with measur­ement intent.
Maintain consis­tency throughout a questi­onnaire in the direction scales are displayed.
Use shorter lines to prevent words from being skipped.

Step 3 Develop Visual Navigation Guides

Develop additional visual naviga­tional guides, the aim of which is to interrupt establ­ished navigation behavior and redirect respon­den­ts.
Major visual changes are essential for gaining compliance with skip patterns.
Words and phrases that introduce important, but easy to miss, change is respondent expect­ation should be visually emphasized consis­tently, but sparingly.
Major visual changes are essential for gaining compliance with skip patterns.

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