Survey Software on Mobile Devices
There are three basic ways to use survey software on multiple devices – smartphones and tablets.
- Text Messages
One approach is to use text messages. While this method has gained some popularity, due to the limitations of text messages, this method is only useful for very simple questions in short surveys. Text messages offer no formatting abilities beyond line breaks. They also require a live text message connection, which is sometimes not available.
- Utilizing Apps
A second approach is to use an app created for mobile devices. These fall into two basic categories: ones designed for survey respondents to download and use to take the survey and ones designed for interviewers to use when talking to respondents face-to-face. Depending the app publisher, and app can offer much more formatting flexibility then it text messages. Some offer the ability to use different fonts to emphasize words or phrases and otherwise offer formatting options. Apps designed for respondents taking their own surveys sufferer from two limitations. One is that many people will be reluctant to download an app just to take a survey. Another is that they need a live data connection.
Apps designed for interviewers do not have either of those limitations. Interviewers can load the app at a central location or at a time they have a data connection. The interviewers can then go to places that do not have a live connection, collect the data on their devices and then get the data to the researcher, either by bringing their devices to a central location or email or directly upload the data when they have a data connection. The most sophisticated mobile survey software can let interviewers collect data when there is no connection and automatically upload it when there is one.
Of course, using live interviewers is more expensive than other forms of data collection, but in some circumstances using them as necessary. Only live interviewers can get reactions to physical products, including taste tests. Live interviewers can also get reactions to events, such as a concert, a sporting event or a tradeshow. Live interviewers can also visit remote locations and interview people who do not have their own devices or a live connection. One of the first uses of our mobile survey software was to interview survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
- A Web Survey
A third approach is to use a web survey. This approach, like the others, has advantages and disadvantages. Its biggest advantage is probably its flexibility. Web surveys created by the more capable tools have far more question formatting and displaying flexibility than any app that must be installed on the device. They also can be used on PCs and laptops, as well as mobile devices. A modern, capable tool can create surveys that adapt to different devices as appropriate. Web respondents can be recruited via email, a text message containing a link or automatically launched when people visit a website.
Survey Software for Data Collection
As you can see, which solution will work best for collecting data on mobile devices will vary based on the circumstances.