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Guidelines: Navigation

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    1 Navigation

    • Definition: Navigation

    • Allow respondents to easily navigate the survey.

    • Streamline forward movement through the questionnaire while allowing backtracking and changing of answers.

    • Construct web-based questionnaires so that they scroll from question to question unless order effects are a major concern, large numbers of questions must be skipped, and/or a mixed-mode survey is being done for which telephone interview and web results will be combined.

    • When the number of answer choices exceeds the number that can be displayed on the screen, consider double-clicking with appropriate navigational instructions being added.

    • When respondents complete the survey in a forward, linear manner, either the whole form or the single item implementations can be used as long as navigational functions are clear and easy to use.

    • When correction and editing tasks require the respondent to find items, the whole form implementation can be used to aid in the searching for items.

    • Paged surveys that are not congruent with sections are to be avoided.

    • Sectioned surveys that require scrolling should clearly indicate that additional items must be accessed by scrolling to them.

    • Indexes to sections and pages are of marginal benefit and may sometimes lead to confusion.

      1.1 Automation

      • Definition: Automation

      • Branching: Automate conditional branching when possible, but allow the respondent to override branching if there is a need or desire to do so on the part of the respondent.

      • Automate skip patterns: to eliminate errors and to simplify the process of taking the survey from the respondent's point of view, make the program, rather than the respondent, manage skip patterns.

      • Automatically validate input, if possible: input validation improves data quality and saves time in data preparation. However, such validation should be user friendly and simply identify the mistake of the user.

      • Take advantage of the media's ability to track respondent behavior: a web-based survey can be used to collect more than just respondent's answers. Information on how much time a respondent spends on each question or on the whole survey, the number of visits a respondent makes to a web site in order to complete a survey, the sequence in which a respondent completes the survey, and other such behaviors could also be collected.

      • Take into account the costs of automation: incorporation of logic checking and automatic question skipping may require more-extensive software programs and programming.