So, last week I received a quick mobile survey asking me about the Grammy Awards. The first question asked me if I watched the show. Yes, all of it; yes, part of it; or no were my choices. I did not watch it and so I answered accordingly.
After gauging my opinion of Lady Gaga’s outfit (which I of course didn’t see, since I didn’t watch the show, but at least the survey showed me a picture so I could form an opinion) the next question asked me which of the performances I particularly enjoyed, from a list of about 20 acts. Since I had not watched the show, I scrolled to the bottom of the list, assuming a “did not watch the show” answer option would eventually appear. None did. Thinking perhaps that choosing no answer could fulfill the same function, I tried to move on to the next question. A cheerful-seeming message popped up on my screen: “Ooops [sic] . . . Looks like you forgot to fill out a necessary field. Please go back and fill out the highlighted areas.”
Er, no, looks like YOU forgot to give me the chance to indicate that I didn’t see any of the performances. Plus YOU also seem to have forgotten some of the necessary rules of survey design, such as, after the respondent indicates he or she has not done something or seen something, don’t then ask them for their reaction to it! And, after you incorrectly program your questions, don’t place the blame on the respondent for trying to find some way to work around your mistake!
Many researchers view mobile interviewing as the next great research frontier to explore but if we don’t avoid mistakes like these, respondents won’t be coming along on the journey with us.