Online Technology for Research & Insight

FAQs: Survey building techniques

Frequently asked questions. Click on any question to see the answer.

Survey building basics


SBB01 What is the difference between a survey when I preview it and when I publish it?

When you Preview a survey you will see it exactly as your respondents will, but no data is saved when submitted. The only difference that matters is that you can continue to make any changes you want to it. Once you Publish a survey you will no longer be able to change most things about the survey. However you can always Unpublish a survey if you haven't received anything other than test responses and you need to make significant changes. It's best to use the UPDATE and PREVIEW buttons throughout the survey build, and PUBLISH the survey when you are ready to start taking data in.

SBB02 My survey is not showing the changes I've made when I Preview it. Why?

This is one of the most common Helpdesk problems we encounter: users cannot see the changes they make in their surveys when they're previewing them. This is because the user's browser is serving the original version of the survey from its cache (a storage area that means it doesn't need to get a fresh copy of a page on the internet for frequently accessed pages). If this happens, you can easily force your browser to get the new copy, though this varies between browsers and computers. Here's a list we've compiled:
For the PC:
(1) Internet Explorer/Edge: Press Ctrl-F5.
(2) Firefox: Press Ctrl-F5 or Shift-Ctrl-R
(3) Safari: Press Ctrl-R.
(4) Chrome: Press Ctrl-F5 or Shift-Ctrl-R. Note: An alternative cache clear for Chrome: Click on the three dots icon at top right. Select "More tools" then "Clear Browsing data...". Set the Time range in the drop-down to be "All time". Unselect everything apart from "Cookies and other site data" and "Cached images and files". Click on Clear data. You'll then need to sign in again to Demographix.
For the Apple Mac:
(1) Safari (before OSX) / Chrome / Firefox: Press Cmd-R.
(2) Safari OSX: enable the Develop menu by selecting the last option on Advanced tab in the Preferences menu. Then select Empty Caches in the Develop dropdown menu or Press Cmd-Option-E.

SBB03 What options are there for changing the screen width of a survey?

Demographix surveys have a default survey width of 700 pixels, but we do allow you to change this to 1000 pixels OR to the full browser width. You make this change in the Survey Properties, under the Controls tab. We generally recommend that you stick with 700px – it's the best standard size for most devices and screen resolutions. However, you may wish to change to 1000px or wider if you have, for example, a matrix or slider question with lots of rows or columns, or a question with a set of images in it that will display better in a wider survey. "Browser width" means the survey will be as wide as each respondent's browser and so dependent not just on how wide their screen is, but also on how wide they use their browser (which may not be full-screen). NOTE: No matter what survey width you choose, Demographix will automatically resize the survey for the screen width on smaller mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

SBB04 How do I print out a printer-friendly copy of the survey for proofing and checking structure?

Open the Edit tool for the survey you want to print. Click on the Printer icon in the Survey Toolbar, and a new window opens with a printer-friendly version of the survey. This printer version shows: all the page and question conditionality specified in words; answer options that are not immediately visible (e.g. in a drop-down menu or on a sliding scale); compulsory questions are flagged; and all the details of special options chosen for questions (e.g. answer rotation) are displayed. You now have two options at top-right: PRINT or CREATE PDF.

SBB05 Can I let respondents save their answers to a survey, and resume answering at a later time?

Our "Save & Resume" feature enables survey respondents to complete a survey in more than one session. This is enabled by clicking the option in the Survey Properties / Controls tab.
• If this is enabled, then at the top of each survey page (except the first one) they will see a link saying "Save Your Place in this Survey".
• If they click on this then a form appears where they are asked to enter a password (and confirm it) to be used to access their response later.
• When this is submitted they are shown a page with a security code on it, for them to note down, and the option to have this security code emailed to them.
• To resume completing a survey, a respondent clicks the "Restore previous answers" link on the first page of the survey. When they have entered their password and security code they are taken to the page where they saved their answers with all their responses reinstated.
• No cookies or other information is stored on the respondent's computer in Save & Resume so a survey can be started in one place and securely resumed in another.
• Partially completed surveys are not included in any reports, nor is the data accessible to users.

SBB06 Do you have a piece of text that explains Save & Resume technology to respondents?

If you are using "Save & Resume", it's a good idea to copy and paste the following explanation to the opening page of the survey:
"This survey uses Save & Resume technology, which allows you to save your answers if you cannot complete it all at once. Here's what you do:
1. To save your answers, click on the link at the bottom of the survey page: "SAVE YOUR ANSWERS TO RESUME LATER" (this link only appears after you have completed the first page of answers).
2. You will be asked to give a password, confirm the password, and then "Save your answers". Then you will be given a security code to note down, and optionally asked if you'd like the code to be sent to an email address you can specify.
3. Later, when you want to resume answering the survey, click on the survey URL to access it, then click on the "RESUME WITH PREVIOUSLY SAVED ANSWERS" link at the top of the first page of the survey, and use the password and security code to restore your answers."

Survey structure and conditional logic


SCL01 How do I get some respondents to "jump over" questions that are not relevant to them?

In Demographix, rather than using the concept of "go to question X, if you answer B", we use the idea of conditionality. This requires less programming logic, and streamlines flow logic. So, if you do not want those who answer B to see question 2 and 3, then you make questions 2 and 3 only viewable by those who answered A, C, etc. Those who answer B then will not see questions 2 and 3, and will have effectively "skipped over them" to question 4 (which, for example, is viewable to all, and has no conditionality associated with it). In Demographix, you can make questions within a page conditional, or whole pages of questions conditional. NOTE: We always recommend that rather than showing nested sub-questions for certain respondents on the same page, that you put these sub-ordinate questions on separate pages and make the whole pages conditional.

SCL02 How do I make a question conditional?

Click on the question text, so the Question/Item Editor appears at right. Click the Validation/Conditions tab, and select the ADD CONDITIONS option at bottom. The Conditionality control will pop-up, showing a list of all the previous questions in the survey that can control this question's visibility. Choose the relevant control question, then tick the answer option(s) that you want to trigger this conditional question. Click ADD CONDITIONS button, and the new conditionality will be saved and shown. Then click the UPDATE PAGES button and PREVIEW, so you can check the result in the survey proper. Note that a blue "C" icon will appear next to the question title in the workspace, and if you hover over this the tooltip will show it has been set as conditional on the selected question. NOTE: You may like to consider making the trigger question compulsory.

SCL03 How do I make a page conditional?

Click on the page text, so the Edit Page Properties appears at right. Click the Conditions tab, and select the ADD CONDITIONS option at bottom. The Conditionality control will pop-up, showing a list of all the previous questions in the survey that can control this page's visibility. Choose the relevant control question, then tick the answer option(s) that you want to trigger this conditional question. Click ADD CONDITIONS button, and the new conditionality will be saved and shown. Then click the UPDATE PAGES button and PREVIEW, so you can check the result in the survey proper. Note that a blue "C" icon will appear next to the page title in the workspace, and if you hover over this the tooltip will show it has been set as conditional on the selected question. NOTE: You may like to consider making the trigger question compulsory.

SCL04 How do I make a question compulsory?

Click on the question text, so the Question/Item Editor appears at right. Click the Validation/Conditions tab, and tick the "Compulsory Question" option. Click the SAVE CHANGES button, and the new validation control will be saved and shown. Then click the UPDATE PAGES button and PREVIEW, so you can check the result in the survey proper. A blue exclamation icon will appear next to the question text in the workspace, and if you hover over this the tooltip will show it has been set as compulsory.

SCL05 Can I use multiple conditionality on several questions?

Yes, you can make questions or pages conditional on two or more questions before them in the survey. Once you have specified one conditional question, click the EDIT CONDITIONS option on the Conditions tab, and then the ADD ANOTHER CONTROL QUESTION at bottom. However, you must then specify the AND/OR logic for the multiple questions before you can save the conditionality.
"ALL of the conditional questions" is the AND operator: both conditions must be satisfied to see this question/page.
"ANY of the conditional questions" is the OR operator: either of the conditions will be enough to see this question/page.
Your multiple conditionality will appear in the tooltip.

SCL06 How do I create an Exit Page to screen out some respondents at the start of my survey?

An Exit page will screen out respondents who don't fulfil certain criteria (such as sex, age or locality) for taking part in a survey. Here's how it's done:
1. Create the Exit page with relevant wording ("Sorry you don't fulfil our criteria. Please click the Continue button") directly after the page which has the question you are exiting them from.
2. Make sure the control question on the previous page is compulsory, so they are forced to answer it.
3. Click on the new Exit page's title to bring up its Page Properties. Under the Details tab select "This is an Exit Page" option. Click SAVE.
4. Now click on the Validation/Conditions tab of the Page Properties, EDIT CONDITIONS and select the control question you are exiting them on. Tick the options you want to trigger the Exit for (such as all the age bracket options under 25) and SAVE.
5. Update and preview pages to test conditionality.
6. Finally, decide whether you want to disable the Previous page button to prevent them going back to change answers. You can do this for every page in the survey (Survey Properties, Controls tab, Navigation tick "Hide previous button" and save). Alternatively, you can hide the button for a single page (Page properties, Details tab, tick "Do not display Previous button on this page" and save).

SCL07 Can I validate inputs into a write-in question, such as numbers or email addresses?

There are different types of validation you can add for a one-line write-in or matrix text-entry question. These can be found in the drop-down menu on the Validation/Conditions tab of a question with write-in boxes:
UK post code – this can be upper or lower case and can have a space in the middle or not
Number – these can optionally have a plus or minus at the start and may include a decimal point but commas or currency symbols are not allowed
Email address – must be formatted correctly but aren’t checked to see if they exist
URL address – can have http:// or https:// at the start but this isn't required, nor is www. So demographix.com would be valid
US ZIP code – this can be a standard five digit ZIP or a ZIP+4 (five digits, a dash and then four digits)
Note that when using post code or ZIP code validation that any non-UK or US-based respondents won't be able to answer this correctly, so we suggest not making this question compulsory unless you have screened out non-UK or US-based respondents or have only sent your survey to UK or US respondents.

Survey URLs, friendly URLs and redirects


URL01 What is the URL of my survey?

Once a survey is previewed for the first time, it is assigned a URL, for example:
http://www.demographix.com/surveys/ABCD-EFGH/GHJKLMPQ/
This will stay the same whatever you do to the survey (preview it, publish it, unpublish it, etc). To find the URL, EDIT the survey to open up the workspace, then either click on the Properties icon in the Survey Toolbar, or click on the survey title in the left-hand workspace. On the Details tab you will find a section called "URL(s) to give access to this Survey", followed by live URL links. If you are using Windows you can right-click on the link and select "Copy link location" to copy and paste the link into an email or document.

URL02 Can I have a "Friendly URL" for a survey which is easy for people to type in?

You can create a short "friendly URL" for a survey that is easier for people to copy from the printed page into a browser. Friendly URLs are of the form: http://www.thissurvey.com/yourID where you decide what goes in place of "yourID" (only letters and numbers are allowed, with no spaces). Friendly URLs are recommended to be used where you want to put a URL in printed materials for direct access to a survey. Remember, the shorter the URL, the easier it will be for people to type it into their browser without mistake. The following FAQ (URL03) details how to do it.

URL03 How do I get a Friendly URL for my survey, and what domains are available?

To obtain a Friendly URL go to the Survey Properties, Details tab and click on GET FRIENDLY URL which will generate the Request Friendly URL pop-up. Choose a domain and specify the keyword you want to request (only letters and numbers are allowed, with no spaces). Remember, the shorter the URL, the easier it will be for people to type it into their browser without mistake.
The domains available are: www.completeasurvey.co.uk | www.completeasurvey.com | www.thissurvey.co.uk | www.thissurvey.com. | www.demographix.com

URL04 Can a Friendly URL be reassigned to another survey, and can I have a different domain name?

1. Friendly URLs can be reassigned from one survey to another at a later date.
2. We offer five default domains – www.completeasurvey.co.uk | www.completeasurvey.com | www.thissurvey.co.uk | www.thissurvey.com. | www.demographix.com. If you want to register another domain, we can look into this for you.

URL05 We plan to promote a survey in different ways. Is it possible to identify where responses come from?

This can easily be done using our survey URL parameter tagging facility. Suppose the URL for your survey is:
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/

For each place you promote the survey add a parameter onto the end of the URL like these:
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/?website
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/?email1
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/?email2
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/?newslist
http://demographix.com/surveys/1234-5678/abcdefgh/?flyer

IMPORTANT NOTE: The source text after the question mark must NOT contain any spaces or punctuation, ONLY letters and digits.
When you come to analyse your responses you'll find details of how many people responded using each URL. More than this, because the sources are treated like a standard question you can filter and cross tab by them as well – so you could find out how respondents from different sources compared.

URL06 Can I redirect respondents to a website after they've submitted the survey?

Yes. In the Survey Properties, there's an option under the Post-Submit tab headed DESTINATION AFTER SURVEY COMPLETED. Enter the URL of the destination you want to display after they've submitted their response in the box labelled: "URL of page to display when survey has been submitted (optional)". You can check the link by using the Preview icon . Make sure "Same for all" is selected and "Show Destination URL even when survey is in pop-up" is ticked, and then click SAVE CHANGES. You can test this redirect while the survey is in production, before publishing it, by submitting a test response.

URL07 Can I link where a respondent goes after completing a survey to an answer in the survey?

Yes. This is set on the Survey properties, under the Post-Submit tab ("URL of page to display when survey has been submitted"). By default this redirection URL is "Same for all". But select the "Based on answer" option, and you can then select from the list of appropriate single-choice questions in the survey. Each answer option then allows you to specify different redirection URLs.
EXAMPLE 1: If someone says they want to sign-up they can be sent directly to a sign-up form on your website. People who just want more information can be sent to your home page.
EXAMPLE 2: Your control question has many different answers but you only want to redirect on one answer. To save work, you need only ensure that you have a default redirection page in the "Same for all" box, and then add additional URLs for any answer options which should be treated differently. Any answer options without an accompanying URL will result in the respondent being sent to the default redirection page.
LINK SURVEYS: You can also use this function to link and branch to surveys. Create an initial survey which asks, for example, whether they are male or female. When they have completed this survey they can then be redirected to the appropriate follow-on survey.

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