Web survey software tools for enterprise online data collection and reporting, used by major corporations, governments, and NGOs throughout the world.

SURVEYWin Design Tips for Surveys

Also see sample surveys.

Here are some helpful hints for designing a form in SURVEYWin:

  1. Don't use too much of the page. Some video cards will always magnify the form you see. To avoid having many respondents use zoom, turn on the grid lines after you have designed the first page. All text and buttons should fit in the region about 8 or 9 boxes from the top of the page. (This will vary somewhat for each computer video card.) Make sure that your text doesn't exceed about 12 to 14 grid line boxes going from left to right. (Again, this depends on your computer's video card.) However, if you have very little text on a page, don't leave big empty gaps on the page. Use the entire 8-by-12 grid.

  2. Set all your text, headings, questions, and response text to "bold" for common fonts, such as Arial and Times New Roman. Generally, forms look better with bold text, especially on lower resolution computers. It's fine to use regular text once in awhile for "fine print" paragraphs, but avoid it in general.

  3. Put a title heading on the first page and let it be carried over to subsequent pages. Sometimes, it's nice to have both the title of the questionnaire, and a section title for the particular part of the questionnaire that you're in. Having a title and/or a section title on every page gives the questionnaire continuity.

  4. Put a "Previous" button on your form pages starting on your second page.

  5. Avoid putting lots of questions on a page. Ideally, it's good to have one question per page so the form looks uncluttered and the respondent won't skip questions. Sometimes it's fine to put more questions on a page as long as the questions are related.

  6. Choose your background colors carefully if the survey will be run on a large number of machines. In the SURVEYWin User Guide, there is a page which lists suggested page and text color combinations to use. However, not all computers are configured to use all possible computer colors. For nearly all computers, the very smallest set of common colors contains only 16 basic colors. Therefore, to be absolutely sure that all colors you use will be viewable on all computers, you must select your colors from those 16 colors. Fortunately, most computers use a color palette of at least 256 colors, which increases your color choices dramatically. To be sure of your choices, test the colors with different color settings for your own computer. If a color combination doesn't work to your satisfaction, choose a more standard color.

  7. Align your response sets. In general, make your responses the same height, the same width. Left align them and give them a vertical space of 2, maybe 3.

  8. Use the "clone page" feature. If you usually have one question per page, or at least a consistent number of questions, then you can apply cloning very effectively. However, be forewarned: IMPORTANT! Make absolutely sure that you are satisfied with your page design before you use "clone page". This can save a great deal of time in the future. Check that you have next and previous buttons on your master page to be cloned. Make sure your form fits in the 8-by-12 area of the grid lines. Check that the form works on a computer with the lowest screen resolution setting of 640 x 480 pixels. Decide if you like the font for your question and text boxes. Make sure your headings are positioned where you want them. If you have any units by boxes, make sure you've included them. Check for any typos that might be repeatedly cloned through the form. Then, and only then, use clone.

  9. Check spelling. If you're not cutting and pasting from a document file but typing up big paragraphs, it's good to type many paragraphs and questions into word processor with spellchecking capabilities first. When there are no spelling errors, you can paste the text into the form as you go.

  10. When you need to change the text or the responses of a question, use Question => History. In question history, you won't accidentally knock your question out of place with your mouse. Also, it's a great deal faster if you need to change multiple questions in any way.

  11. Don't have your respondents start the survey out of nowhere. Be sure you have introductory pages so the respondents can familiarize themselves with the program before they have to start answering questions. It's good to import a "helpful hints for taking the survey" page from a previously designed survey form. From main menu, go to "Form design", then "Borrow objects". A good page to borrow is on instructions.frm.

  12. Don't end the survey abruptly. A respondent might accidentally save with questions unanswered. It's good to have a paragraph or two explaining options available on the same page with the "Save" button.

  13. If you add a page that will appear in the middle of your form, you may want to put the page into the right order in the objects menu. To do this, exit form design to the main SURVEYWin project menu. Select "Form design", then "Rearrange Objects". Next, select "Objects", then "Pages - electronic" to gain access to the list of pages and their order in form design. This will make the form file easier to understand for future people working on it.

  14. Don't forget that you can add pop-up help boxes if you're short of space on a page for regular "plain text" instructions.

Using .ASK and .LST

You can use special files to fill in the database that can be changed without creating or modifying the existing survey forms you have created. You can also constrain the user's answers to fixed answers based on their previous answers. To use these functions, you need to create special files called {exe name of survey program}.ASK or {exe name of survey program}.LST. The ASK file must contain first the fieldname used in the survey, followed by the entries you want to use, each must be on their own line. Here is an example:
Bob Jones
Steve Smith
Sam Taylor
The LST file would look like this:
Bob	Super	blgd 1
Bob	Super	bldg 2
Steve	Mngr	bldg 1
Each field is separated by a tab. This would allow Bob to select blgd 1 or bldg 2 but nothing else. Consult the manual for further details.