How to Optimize Surveys for Mobile

Optimize Your Survey for Mobile User Experiences, Not Their Devices

If you want to optimize your survey for mobile experiences, you need to consider more than just questions, survey format, and types of media – you must consider the entire experience, from the end user’s perspective.

The best mobile experiences are where the users opts-in to an in-app experience, and isn’t interrupted by having to open an email, follow a link, or view another app or multiple data entry screens to complete a survey.

In-app surveys also create an opportunity for the respondent to participate in a survey at their convenience. When a user is in-app, they have typically shifted their focus and attention on the in-app activities; a small indicator arises that can be opened or ignored by the user – ensuring a higher level of engagement in a survey – should the user choose to participate.


In general, mobile phone users are on-the-go, and want to complete their actions quickly. The general consensus among researchers is that users are suspect to “survey fatigue” after about 2-3 minutes. This is directly tied to survey length, answer length, question type, and media

Number of Questions

Since screen space is limited, and most users don’t want to take a long survey – particularly on a mobile device. We suggest you limit your survey to 12 questions or less (we cap it at 17; 22 with branching) – as we already inject two questions: 1 for age, and 1 for gender.

Question Types

Mobile users are most responsive when they can perform a function using one finger, and one action. You will get higher engagement levels with Single or Multiple Answer questions vs Open-Ended; and while they are engaging, try to avoid too many Rating or Matrix questions.

Limit the number of open-ended questions to 1-2, and use them sparingly; that is, use them for exploring the depth of an answer to a previous questions; and avoid using open-ended questions when Numerical answer or ranges can suffice.

Keep question wording to a minimum, we suggest that you limit questions and Descriptions to 140 characters.


Open-ended questions are subject to off-topic responses, particularly on mobile. And answers are sometime difficult to analyze.

Open-ended questions tend to have shorter answers in general when users respond on mobile; so if you are asking for a free-form response, gear your question towards shorter, simpler answers.

For Single Answer, and Multiple Answer questions, limit the number of answer choices so users don’t have to scroll to compare the first and last answers.

Rating questions using 5-7 Stars are preferable to Slider Scales (1-100) because it is a simpler motion.


If you want to include images or videos, be sure they are high quality, but small in file size and to the point. Nothing turns a user off like having to wait for media to load, or if it isn’t viewing well on a mobile screen.

Preview Your Survey Before Releasing

Even the most experienced market researchers can make mistakes in their survey design. Preview your survey to check for spelling errors, omissions, the look-and-feel on mobile, and the overall flow. Have a user who is not familiar with the survey preview it as well.

By following these best practices, you will ensure a better mobile experience, which will result in more engaged respondents who provide high-quality data, faster, and with more accuracy and reliability.