Online Survey Design Guide Logo
Home > Guidelines > Usability/Accessibility

Guidelines: Usability/Accessibility

  About the Project

  • Navigation
  • Usability/Accessibility
  • Web-based Questionnaires
  •   Examples


      Additional Resources
      About Us

    2 Usability / Accessibility

      2.1 Usability

      • Definition: Usability

      • Be aware that survey respondents bring various backgrounds, experience and motivations to the survey.

      • Assume that respondents are all novice to your questionnaire but they have some or minimal experience with web page browsing.

      • The purpose of the design strategy is training respondents not over time but in the same survey session.

      • Get respondents with minimal computer literacy to overcome their limited knowledge and perhaps fear of the computer in order to respond.

      • Make error/warning messages as specific as possible: ideally, an error message should be placed directly above or below the unanswered item, and it should be specific about where the error occurred and, if possible, the nature of the problem.

      • Provide some indication of survey progress: a graphical progress indicator can be especially useful as a means to inform respondents how much of the survey has been done. It is desirable to give respondents an approximate measure of their progress at least a few times during the survey.

      • Allow respondents to interrupt and then reenter the survey: respondents who cannot complete a survey in one sitting should be offered the option of stopping at some point and resuming later.

      • Provide feedback: Use graphical symbols or words that convey a sense of where the respondent is in the completion progress, but avoid ones that require advanced programming.

      • Error messages: Phrase "error" messages in a positive, helpful manner that suggests how to complete a question.

      • Additional feedback: If there is a routine flow or burst of automatic entry of data, notify the user at the end of that flow of any errors.

      • Validating data: When the respondent is allowed to answer all questions, implement logic and consistency checks on conditional branches.

      • When context matters, provide form-based views of sections to help to clarify the meaning of items and the interrelationships among items.

      • It must be remembered that although good design seems intuitive, it requires empirical verification before final implementation.

      2.2 Accessibility

      • Definition: Acessibility

      • Be consistent across a variety of hardware and software systems.

      • Avoid differences in the visual appearance of questions that result from different screen configurations, operating systems, browsers, partial screen displays, and wrap-around text.

      • If necessary, instruct respondents to maximize the screen.

      2.3 Consistency

      • Definition: Consistency

      • Be consistent: show information in the same places.

      • Inconsistency in response format may lead to user error. [Example]

      • Follow the same format, alignment and color scheme.

      • Accommodate the respondents' anticipation.

      • Design an interface consistent with users' understanding of the task.

      • Using a system encourages formation of behavior patterns.

      • When appropriate, keep response options consistent.

      • When response options change, draw attention to the change in some way, for example, change the layout of the responses or require navigation to a new page that optionally instructs the user that the response options have changed.

      • Educate the respondent to be familiar with the questionnaire format as quickly as possible.

      2.4 Use of color

      • Reserve red for emergency messages or critical icons. [Example]

      • Avoid red-green distinctions.

      • Do not use intense combinations of colors: respondents may lose attention.

      • Keep the background color simple and from interrupting the task.

      • Visual focus should be on primary task.

      • When using grid format for a long list of responses, alternate the background colors for each response category.

      • Restrain the use of color so that figure/ground consistency and readability are maintained and navigational flow is unimpeded.