The Why, How, and What of Onsite UX/UI User Surveys

Onsite user surveys are a cost-efficient way to gather not only quantitative but also qualitative information useful for business decisions.  There are two basic types of onsite surveys: website-related (UX/UI surveys) and offering-related (about the actual product or service promoted through your website). In this post, I will concentrate on the first type of questionnaires and give some guidance on how successfully set up, run and evaluate them.

Why

As with other projects, we always start with a Why – question. Without formulating a clear purpose, you will not be able to derive much useful information from the survey. Do not start with a general question such as “Do users find the website easy to use?”- but concentrate on particular UI components (e.g. top navigation, product finder or product descriptions). You may also run a survey to gather more insight into the data from analytics, e.g. high bounce rate on a particular page or repeated shopping cart abandonment by users. Another possibility is to follow up on a particular user journey (registration, form submission).

When & Where

When and Where to place the user survey will depend on its purpose. Say, if you are testing a new color scheme of the site you could place a survey on most pages, but if you are interested why users do not manage to submit forms, you will display a questionnaire only on Submission Failed page.

Besides placing the survey on relevant pages, you may additionally target a random sample of users, i.e. 10% of visitors, or show the questionnaire after a certain time on site/to returning users. Sometimes it is also possible to display a survey on an event, such as a button click or multiple mouse-overs a page element. If the software you use allows gathering user data, consider targeting certain user groups (e.g. users coming from a particular device or from a certain country).

When displaying the survey, decide how long the delay should be. If a user first needs to read the contents of the page, the delay may be up to a minute. In any case, loading the questionnaire simultaneously with the page may confuse users, so several seconds delay will still be appropriate (it will also exclude users who are in the “explore mode”, i.e. just clicking through the pages).

How

Speaking about How the survey will be set up, it can be a pop-up, a slide-out panel or a Feedback button (during user journey or placed in the header of the page). In any case, you will need to include a recognizable Close button to avoid irritating users who do not wish to participate. You may, however, display the survey again at a later point/during the next visit or allow the visitor to choose, by implementing a Maybe Later button.

What

When deciding What to include in the survey, consider the number and the type of questions you want to ask.  Generally true: the shorter the survey Рthe higher the submission rate. If you want to ask questions on different areas of the website, break them into two or three smaller surveys and display upon user interaction.

As for the type of questions asked, open fields and ratings will probably give you the most insights into how users perceive your site. If possible, avoid asking many yes/no or very broad questions, such as: “What do you think of our new site?”

Users may also be reluctant to provide personal details, so reduce personal questions to a minimum. In other words, every question should fulfill the purpose of the survey or be removed.

Monitoring

Once the user survey is live, continue monitoring and adjusting it, whilst carefully recording all changes made in the process. Some adjustments can be: broaden the display rules if too few visitors view the forms, reformulate a question that seems to cause misunderstanding, exclude some user group from targeting.

Reporting

Last but not least: results processing. You may report daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the traffic volume and stakeholder requirements. The reports you produce should have the same format in order to compare results over time. Questions with open fields are the most useful, but also the most time-consuming to evaluate. You can group responses into categories and later re-formulate the question as a multiple-choice, still leaving one variant as open field.

With UX/UI surveys, you are likely to get some irrelevant responses, such as comments about the product or customer service queries. Make sure to have a process to deal with such responses in place.

As a short conclusion, here are some do’s and don’t’s of onsite UX/UI surveys.

The Why, How, and What of Onsite UX/UI User Surveys

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