Experts offer usability testing tips to improve quality of data collected from web surveys

New book available by RTI and Facebook/Instagram co-authors


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— Tips on how to design and conduct survey usability tests to assess how well respondents can complete web surveys are offered in a new book co-authored by RTI International and Facebook/Instagram researchers.

Usability testing is used to evaluate the interaction between the survey and the respondent to improve the quality of data collected from web surveys. The book explains the relationship between technology used by the survey and how it can impact the quality of data collected. For example, respondents may understand the wording of the survey question, but select the wrong answer on a mobile device due to the small screen size.

Emily Geisen, survey methodologist at RTI, distills her experience conducting usability testing and explains how it can be applied to surveys conducted on mobile devices, mixed-mode surveys, interviewer-administered tools and more.

“This book allows us to transfer our personal experience in conducting usability testing for survey research to those who are looking for a guide in how to evaluate, test and modify surveys,” Geisen said. “Many surveys are now being conducted on the web, particularly on mobile devices. Thus, it’s vital to assess not only the survey questions but the technology used by the survey to identify important quality concerns technology may introduce.”

The book, Usability Testing for Survey Research, published by Elsevier, offers examples that apply usability to all types of surveys during any stage of its development. Information on how to meet budget and scheduling constraints by tailoring usability testing also is provided.

“We offer real world examples and case studies to help other researchers, professionals and students using surveys to better understand how to conduct usability testing on any type of survey,” Geisen said.

Geisen is an expert in designing and evaluating survey instruments to enhance data quality and make the process easier for respondents. She has conducted hundreds of usability tests on a variety of projects during her tenure at RTI. She also teaches a graduate course on questionnaire design at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jennifer Romano Bergstrom co-authored the book with Geisen and leads user experience studies at Facebook and Instagram.

The book is available on Elsevier’s website and Amazon.