Towards device agnostic survey design: challenges and opportunities for Understanding Society

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 21, 2015


Eighteen percent of respondents completing Understanding Society
Innovation Panel Wave 7 (IP7) online used a tablet device – double the
proportion at the previous wave. This reflects evidence from other major
UK social surveys which have adopted online data collection, such as
the Community Life Survey and National Child Development Survey. And
this proportion will only increase as tablet ownership grows. Broader
trends in market research show growing demand for mobile completion,
with around half of new panellists to the Lightspeed UK Access Panel
signing up on a smartphone or tablet. Smartphone use is particularly
common among younger people; according to recent Ofcom data, nine in ten
16-24 year olds own a smartphone, and spend an average of over three
hours a day using these devices. This paper will draw on paradata from a
range of surveys, including IP7, to show how device choice varies by
socio-demographic variables, and may impact on survey behaviour. Drawing
on latest thinking in commercial research, we outline important design
considerations to support mobile completion, including survey length and
question format, and highlight movement towards ‘device agnosticism’ in
survey design. Results from qualitative usability testing will allow us
to vividly illustrate the feasibility of – and challenges associated
with – completing Understanding Society on mobile devices. With
Understanding Society potentially becoming mixed-mode, there is a need
to better understand the ways that people want to complete surveys
online, how device choice can impact on respondent behaviour, the design
challenges to overcome, and measurement opportunities offered by mobile





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