Crafting the Perfect Length For Your Survey

Blocksurvey blog author
Jan 18, 2024 · 4 mins read

Are you a survey administrator looking to create and run surveys? Are you looking to attain the perfect length for your survey?

Remember, a short survey cannot gather all the necessary data, and a long survey can cause respondent fatigue. So, how do you strike a balance?

The ideal length of the survey depends on the purpose behind it

This guide gets into the details of crafting the perfect length for your surveys.

The survey length is a very important factor to consider while creating surveys. Survey Length can make or break a survey. Let’s discuss that further in the next section.

1. The Importance Of Survey Length

As mentioned earlier, the Survey Length is a very important factor to consider while crafting your survey.

Lengthy surveys can tire respondents, leading to speedy or thoughtless answers. Every new question you add increases the chance of the respondent abandoning the survey midway.

On the other hand, studies have shown that shorter surveys generally have higher completion rates. But it's highly important to balance length with the depth of information needed.

Prioritizing your survey's objectives can help you decide which questions are essential and which can be trimmed or removed.

Every question should have a clear purpose that aligns with the survey's goals. Redundant or vague questions only extend the survey without adding value.

Always aim to strike the right balance of length and depth of questions to craft the perfect survey.

Read on to find the optimal length for different types of surveys.

2. Optimal Length Of Surveys

Different surveys serve different purposes. Based on the survey purpose, the length of surveys also varies.

Short polls are ideal for quick feedback. Short Polls come in very handy for faster data collection with higher completion rates. These short polls often have questions ranging from 1 to 5.

Customer feedback forms are usually targeted towards customers, focusing on recent interactions. This type of survey is usually short to medium-length. This means 5 to 10 questions would be ideal for customer feedback data collection.

Employee engagement surveys are organizational. They are typically longer, with 10 to 15 questions, gauging various aspects of an employee's experience within the organization. Also, this type of survey is required to be anonymous in the best interest of employees.

Research surveys aim to get deep insights from the respondents. This type of survey has more open-ended questions. This research survey can be longer, aiming to collect detailed data on the research subject. They usually contain 15 to 20 questions or more.

Survey Type Ideal number of questions
Short polls 1 to 5
Customer Feedback Forms 5 to 10
Employee Engagement Surveys 10 - 15
Research Surveys 15 to 20 or more

Now that you have a sense of the optimal length for different surveys, next time when you create surveys you can craft the ideal number of questions.

3. Survey Design to Counteract Length

In the next section, let’s explore a few design aspects that make surveys feel short.

A shorter survey means better data quality

3.1. Engaging Visuals

When you include relevant images, infographics, or other visuals, it keeps respondents engaged. Visual elements aren't just aesthetic enhancements. They can help explain a point, making it easier for respondents to understand and answer their surveys.

3.2. Various Question Types

When your survey contains a variety of question types like multiple choice, sliders, checkboxes, and open fields, it can keep things interesting. This variety ensures that the respondent isn't stuck in a monotonous answering pattern, which can lead to survey fatigue or rushed answers.

3.3. UI for Shortened Perception

Clean layouts, clear fonts, and intuitive UI/UX can also make a long survey seem short. Ensure that there's plenty of white space, so the survey doesn’t look cluttered. Also, consider breaking up sections with different background colors or separators.

3.4. Divide your surveys

Dividing your survey into distinct sections is a sure way to make a long survey feel shorter. Progress indicators, like a progress bar, can motivate respondents to complete the survey, giving them an idea of how much longer they have to go.

3.5. Time to Complete

BlockSurvey has Time to Complete in the welcome screen which is very handy. This is especially helpful by providing the time to completion even before starting the survey. You can find "Time to Complete" field this in the screen shot below.

3.6. Average Completion Time

BlockSurvey has option to view Average Completion Time in the response analytics. The average completion time can help you craft a better survey. It helps you receive insights on completion times. You can find "Average Completion Time" field this in the analytics screen shot below.

3.7. Drop Off Analytics

It is always great to find out which question in the survey triggers more drop-off. BlockSurvey analytics provides you with the Drop Off Analytics feature. This chart can vividly tell you at which question in the survey drop-offs have occurred. You can find the Drop Off Analytics screenshot below.

Let’s now discuss technological considerations for ideal survey length.

4. Technological Considerations

4.1 Mobile Optimization

With more numbers of users accessing surveys on mobile devices than desktops, ensure that your survey is mobile-optimized.

A long survey on a desktop might feel even longer on mobile if respondents have to keep scrolling.

4.2 Faster Loading Times

Nothing stops respondents more than a slow-loading survey. Ensure your platform can handle the multimedia elements without glitches or lag.

When you embed videos or use high-resolution images, compress them to retain quality without compromising speed.

4.3 Ensure User Experience

From start to finish, the user experience should be smooth. Broken links, unresponsive buttons, or issues with saving responses can be frustrating.

Regularly test your surveys on different devices and browsers to ensure consistent performance.

Now let’s think of ways to break down the complexity of surveys.

5. Breaking Complexity

Survey questions can range from straightforward closed-ended ones, like multiple-choice, to detailed open-ended questions that demand thoughtful responses. The former can be answered quickly, while the latter requires time and reflection.

For instance, the question,

"Are you satisfied with our service?"

can be answered faster than the question

"What improvements would you suggest for our service?"

While detailed responses are valuable, it's essential to measure the time commitment you're asking from respondents.

If your survey is loaded with open-ended questions, consider spreading them with quicker, closed-ended ones or using scales. This approach breaks the monotony and ensures participants aren’t overwhelmed.

6. Incentives

The Power of Incentives should not be underestimated while running longer surveys.

According to research, the average survey response rate falls around 10-30%. Some people are hesitant about taking surveys, and survey incentives are the extra push they need to complete the survey. By doing this, you acknowledge that people’s time is valuable.

Incentive is a way of saying,

“We value your time and opinion. So here’s our token of appreciation for your effort.”

Long surveys demand more time, and offering incentives can be a compelling way to encourage completion.

The incentives could range from monetary incentives like discounts, and gift cards, to non-monetary incentives like entry into a prize draw or access to premium product.

It's very crucial to understand that incentives can sometimes skew survey results, especially if respondents rush through just to receive the reward. Hence, while designing your survey, ensure that there are checks to measure genuine responses.

Do you know? Pilot testing and Feedback collection also play a huge role in improvising and arriving at the ideal survey length. Read on.

7. Feedback

Before sending out your survey to the broader audience, test it with a smaller group. This test group can provide valuable feedback on the perceived length and difficulty of your survey. Moreover, pilot testing can give you an estimate of the average completion time.

Encouraging feedback can help you attain the correct survey length and improve survey quality.

Always provide a section at the end of the survey for participants to share their experiences.

Including the following questions can offer invaluable insights.

"Did you ever find this survey too long to complete?"

"Were there any questions you found redundant?"

"What specific suggestions do you have for improvement?”

"Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?”

Use the feedback to continuously refine your surveys.

If multiple respondents felt a particular section was too lengthy or complex, consider revising it in future surveys.

Test your knowledge on Crafting Survey Length

Final Thoughts

As I move to the closing thoughts of this article, I would like to reiterate the importance of survey length.

In today’s fast-paced world, less is always more.

I have discussed a few important strategies to help you craft the perfect length for your survey. I discussed the importance of survey length, the optimal length for various surveys, design practices to counteract length, how to break complexity, and the power of incentives and feedback.

Finally, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to the perfect survey. What works for one business may not work for another. You will likely have to use different strategies until you find the perfect length for your survey.

The ideas discussed in this article can help you confidently walk towards crafting a perfect length for your survey.

All the best. Happy Survey Crafting.

Crafting the Perfect Length For Your Survey FAQ

What is the ideal length for a survey?

The ideal length for a survey depends on the complexity of the topic and target audience, but generally, keeping it concise and focused is recommended.

How long should my survey be to ensure participants' engagement?

Shorter surveys tend to have higher participant engagement rates, so aim for a length that can be completed within 5-10 minutes.

Does the length of a survey affect the quality of the data collected?

Yes, longer surveys often lead to participant fatigue and decreased data quality. Keeping surveys shorter helps maintain data accuracy.

Are there any guidelines for survey length based on the number of questions?

While there are no strict rules, it's advisable to limit your survey to around 10-15 questions to maintain participant interest and ensure data reliability.

Can I include more questions to gather extensive data?

Including additional questions can be tempting, but it's crucial to balance data needs with participant experience to avoid dropouts and incomplete responses.

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blog author description

Sarath Shyamson

Sarath Shyamson is the customer success person at BlockSurvey and also heads the outreach. He enjoys volunteering for the church choir.


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