Respondent Centred Surveys: Putting respondents at the heart of survey design - online
What is ‘Respondent Centred Design’? It simply means putting the respondent in the driving seat when it comes to the design of your survey experience. This includes, for example, the design of your communication materials and the questionnaire content. We must not underestimate the importance of doing this and the importance of the ‘experience’ aspect of the interaction when it comes to nonresponse in longitudinal surveys. Self-completion surveys no longer mean that we can rely on highly trained and dedicated interviewers to provide a good experience for the respondent and to achieve that response.
The data-user-centred approach has left us with questionnaires that are long, confusing, and sometimes repetitive. However, worst of all is that they often feel irrelevant to the respondent, leaving them feeling like they’ve not really represented themselves well enough or in the way they wanted to. This poor experience is a contributing factor to declining response rates; however, it can no longer be overlooked when the tables are turned, and the respondent becomes the interviewer and the interviewee in the online mode.
Throughout the survey design industry, we are experiencing a decline in response rates alongside the demand for push-to-web mixed-mode completion. The data collection world is changing and to respond to these challenges, it is necessary to combine established and innovative survey design methodologies.
We must move away from the traditional approaches that hinder us from achieving our goals, such as designing surveys at desk or in the boardroom. Instead, we need to start putting the respondent first and letting them drive survey design. This is Respondent Centred Design and it is achieved by heavily involving respondents in research to establish their survey participation needs and subsequently building to meet them. Only then can we develop a survey with low burden and high-quality data.
Laura Wilson, Emma Dickinson and Jo d'Ardenne