5 Survey Programming Tips for Outstanding Results


After establishing your target audience and writing your questionnaire, it is time to program your survey and prepare it for participants to answer. Survey Programming is the process of translating a written questionnaire into an interactive survey that participants can answer. 

In this article, we will share five tips for an effective and successful survey programming experience.

The survey programming tips below will ensure you have an effective participant experience and outstanding results to guide your next research project:

Engaging Surveys are Key

Your survey must be engaging and easy to understand for all participants. Using simple language, short and concise sentences, paragraphs, questions, and sections will ensure your survey is clear. For example, a straightforward screener question early in the interview can ensure that you are speaking to the right target audience. Keep your interview length short to retain participant attention throughout the survey.

Make Your Survey Mobile Friendly

Today, more than half of all survey traffic comes from mobile devices. If your surveys are not optimized for mobile users, you severely hinder your research project’s reach and sampling reliability. To optimize for mobile, keep the questions simple with readable font sizes. Always avoid extensive grids that can be challenging to navigate. By making your survey easy to take across a variety of platforms, you grant the opportunity for more users to engage effectively.

Ask the Right Questions

Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions prompt the survey participant to enter their answer in their voice and allow you to obtain detailed insights. Examples include “Describe your last office visit” or “What do you think about our new coffee blend?” Open-ended questions empower your participants to give their opinion without the constraints of a multiple-choice answer and provide your business with incredibly detailed insights. 

Multiple-Choice Questions

Multiple-choice questions ask participants to select one answer, answer rating scales, and more. Examples include “How likely are you to recommend water service brands to your colleagues?” and “How satisfied are you with our services?” with a strongly agree to strongly disagree scale.

Checklist Headings

Checklist questions are an alternative method of capturing multiple-choice responses. Participants check boxes on a list or choose from drop-down menus with pre-defined options. For example, “Which of the following pet food brands have you tried in the past six months? Please select all options that apply.”
It’s important to use questions that help you collect the information you need and nothing more, always respecting your participants’ time.

Branch Logic, Piping, and Randomization

Branch logic, piping, and randomization are all essential survey programming tools that control the flow of a survey.

Branch Logic

Branch logic will ensure that the questions pertain to the exact participant – for example, if a participant selects that they never eat breakfast, it makes sense to skip over the following question in the questionnaire, which asks what they most commonly eat for breakfast. If they never eat breakfast, this question will not make sense. It allows for multiple survey experiences depending on their selected answers. 


Piping is another survey programming tool that can personalize follow-up questions based on the previous answers given by the participant – let’s say that your participant answers that they do eat breakfast and, in the follow-up, say that they eat eggs for breakfast. The next question would utilize piping and input in their answer within the question: “You mentioned that you ate eggs for breakfast. Where do you most often purchase eggs?” 


Randomization mixes up the order of the answers to prevent order bias in surveys. For example, if you list out everyday breakfast items, like toast, eggs, and cereal, keeping toast at the top of the selection list each time will unintentionally bias participants to select that answer. 

By utilizing branch logic, piping, and randomization, survey programmers can personalize the survey flow and better gather relevant insights from a survey depending on the participants’ responses.

Test Your Survey Before, During, and After Launch

You must test your survey before, during, and after the project’s launch. You will want to ensure it is compatible with various devices in your testing: mobile, tablet, and desktop, and that all programming flows are working as they should. Collecting insights and reviewing the data during a soft launch (setting live only a small number of responses for review) will highlight areas where questions may need revision or if there are any technological errors. Thorough testing will ensure the most quality insights and a high completion rate for your survey.  

The Conclusion

As a researcher, business owner, or decision-maker, you must ensure that your survey programming is as engaging and effective as possible. It is necessary to be equipped with the techniques, team, and software to achieve the best needs for your organization. 

At InnovateMR, we can handle the survey programming heavy lift, or you can program your survey yourself with our Vision Suite software that can build, test, and launch your survey. If you’d like to learn more about creating surveys that work and how we can help, please get in touch with the experts today.

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About InnovateMR – InnovateMR is a full-service sampling and ResTech company that delivers faster, quality insights from business and consumer audiences utilizing cutting-edge technologies to support agile research. As industry pioneers, InnovateMR provides world-class end-to-end survey programming, targeted international sampling, qualitative and quantitative insights, and customized consultation services to support informed, data-driven strategies, and identify growth opportunities. Known for their celebrated status in customer service and results, InnovateMR combines boutique-level service with extensive global reach to achieve partner success.