Survey design - direct observation

Subject: Survey design - direct observation
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 10:30:13 -0800

Last week while I was on the plane from Denver, I had a chance to
observe how not to do an end-user survey.

The airline distributed a four page survey, set in 8 point type.
Much of the design was intended to make the answers easy to scan
into a database. "Who designed this - the same people who did the
Florida ballot?" I heard someone behind me grumble.

Too sleepy and too bored to bother with the survey, I went back to
the washroom, travelling about three-quarters the length of the
plane. On my trip to the back, many people were frowning over the
first page. When I made my way back to my seat a few minutes later,
at least three out of five people had given up. I saw several people
push the survey away from them without even the first page finished.

Naturally, I didn't question everyone on the plane, but it seems a
reasonable deduction that the length and the design of the survey
defeated its purpose.

This deduction isn't earth-shattering. Nor is it anything that I
hadn't learned from text books. Still, I pass it on because it was a
rare opportunity to observe some truisms of the trade first hand.

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
604.421.7189 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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