10 Tips to Shorten Your Survey Length

  • After 15-20 minutes, research participants become fatigued and quality diminishes.
  • Questionnaire length can be reduced either by reducing the actual length or the perceived length.

Dynata research conducted over the past decade across multiple cultures and countries shows that respondent attention diminishes after about 20 minutes of answering questions in a research questionnaire. Our research also demonstrates that this inattention impacts the data, causing different answers and reduced quality of response. Therefore, Dynata recommends 20 minutes as a maximum questionnaire length for good quality results.

Survey length can be reduced in two ways: literally, by reducing the actual length, and cognitively, by reducing the perceived length.

To reduce actual survey length:

1.Pre-populate fields using existing geographic, demographic and profile information. (Ask your sample provider what they can supply.)

2. Avoid long introductions and “thank you” and reward information screens which duplicate the panel provider’s content.

3. Ask fewer questions to more people via data imputation (hot decking), or respondent matching, (data stitching.)

4. Re-use previously-collected data if the question has been asked in earlier studies.

5. If the answer to a question never changes, consider asking it less often or to fewer people.

6. Challenge the need for each question: What does this question tell us? How will we use the answer?

7. Use factor analysis to remove similar attributes.

To reduce perceived questionnaire length:

8. Break the survey into modules and re-ask willingness to continue at the end of each module.

9. Give participants mental breaks with phrases which support the intrinsic motivations of autonomy, value, relatedness and competence.

10. Use elements of gamification to add variety and reduce fatigue, for example by creating scenarios around questions or framing questions as guessing challenges or competitions.

To learn more about how you can make surveys shorter, contact us for more information.