Survey design—Content dressed to impress

Franci Erdmann | Oct 25, 2017 Franci Erdmann 10/25/17

We know great insights start with great feedback—and great feedback depends on a healthy sample of responses. We’ve discussed invitation methods, length, incentives, and structure as key survey elements in getting good participation—but design is critical, too.

A good user interface (UI) keeps your customers engaged in the survey, and that requires making the design a seamless part of your overall brand experience. After testing a variety of survey designs to determine which returned the best response rates, we found surveys that were branded to the client only had a 1.5% abandonment rate—versus a 10% abandonment rate for otherwise plain-looking surveys. Part of the reason customers take surveys in the first place is that they’re engaged enough with the brand to want to share their feedback, so it’s no surprise they’re more likely to complete a survey that feels like an extension of the brand.


To ensure your survey is getting the best response rates, here are a few recommendations to consider when making decisions about the design.

Know your customers

Knowing who your customers are is one of the most important elements of making any decisions about your brand—and the same is true when considering your survey design. If you know your customers are tech-savvy and more likely to take your surveys on a mobile device (like more than half of all respondents), making your survey brief and simple is in your best interest. Conversely, if your brand caters to older demographics, ensure things like button size and legibility stay top-of-mind.

Taking these things into consideration helps:

  • Reduce respondent frustrations (and abandonment rates)
  • Demonstrate you know your customers and care about their survey experience
  • Increase the likelihood that respondents will take your surveys again

Err on the side of simplicity

Advancements in technology have opened up the realm of what’s possible in every aspect of our lives. But just because something new and exciting is available, doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action. Customers want surveys that are easy to complete, or else they simply won’t. Elements like detailed graphics and advanced programming may be tempting to incorporate, but they often tend to detract from the main purpose of the survey—answering survey questions. Keeping a balance of branding and simplicity is key to giving your surveys the right amount of interest, without creating frustration. When in doubt, keep it simple.

Test alternative formats

Like most elements of your survey, it’s worth it to try out different elements to see what works best with your brand. No two businesses are exactly alike, so what’s most effective for one brand may not be the most effective for yours. And what is most effective for your brand now may not be the most effective in the future.


Technology, customer expectations, and respondent familiarity with technology are all changing at rapid speeds—so it’s critical for your brand to stay on top of new developments in the customer landscape and their relationship with technology in general. That knowledge will help you ensure your survey elements are speaking the loudest to your customers and encouraging the best-possible response rates every step of the way.

Bottom line

Surveys that are easy for your customers to use always encourage the best response rates—and design plays a big part. Branding your surveys and optimizing them for mobile devices will help you get the highest-quality feedback while also creating a more consistent brand experience that keeps customers emotionally connected.  

Want to learn how to optimize every aspect of your survey for better response rates? Check out the full best practice guide: 6 tips for keeping your CX survey on pace with other customer touchpoints.

Franci Erdmann
VP, Client Insights

Customer Experience Update