EX06 - Surveys

Your audience is eager to help

Surveys are a vital cog in the wheel of UX design — just not for the reason most people expect.

Updated April 29, 2020

When you think about research as an activity, much of it centers on asking questions and recording answers. This pattern of data collection would lead you to the logical assumption that surveys must be a cornerstone of UX research.

Until recently, that assumption would have been valid. Even now, surveys are sent out every day by designers who think they are performing research and collecting data.

They are indeed collecting data, but there is a big problem. We have no idea if the data is any good.

Many design leaders began pushing back against surveys as a tool years ago, but Erika Hall nailed the issue down when she stated, “A bad survey won’t tell you it’s bad.”

That’s the biggest problem with surveys as a tool. It is effortless to make a bad one and hard to make a good one. That means it is very likely it was a bad survey before anyone even answers it.

Then why are we talking about surveys?

That’s because surveys are fantastic tools to find participants for your future research!

You’ll often need to find users for interviews, testing, and other activities. A survey provides a tool to help find an ideal group of people for your project needs.

None of this means that people will automatically complete your survey. To increase your chances of success, follow the guidelines below:

  • Include a short intro to explain what the survey is about.
  • People hate long surveys. Keep it short.
  • Focus on what they do, rather than who they are.
  • Avoid questions the participant can’t answer.
  • Always ask for permission to follow up.

Once your survey is released, you should give it a little bit of time to generate responses — but don’t go overboard. You’ll generally see the highest percentage of total responses within 48 hours of release.

Resources for review

Please use the following items to guide your exercise attempt:

Article Source/Author
A better way to use surveys New Pragmatic
A time and place for surveys New Pragmatic
On Surveys Erika Hall


Length: Two-to-three hours (actual working time) to complete.

This project represents the kickoff of a new project that has significant global interest. How do we revamp public schools to make them functional during a pandemic and beyond?

We’ll be approaching this research from a slightly different direction as you already have some knowledge about modifying social dynamics from the prior exercises.

Using the project overview document provided, create a survey that will assist you in constructing a cohort of participants. You’re building this group to offer ideal participants for user interviews, product testing, and a host of other activities.

The structure of your survey should:

  • Have a clear introduction stating the purpose
  • Be shorter than ten questions in length
  • Ask at least one item that identifies how school closures might impact the person
  • Present no unanswerable questions to the participant
  • Seek permission for follow-up contact

Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to any assets produced in this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


After your work is reviewed, you’ll release your survey to the public via friends, family, and social media. Continue pushing your survey until you have accumulated between 20-to-30 responses. 48 hours after your survey has been released, consider the data collection done. You’ll use the names gathered as the base of potential participants for upcoming exercises.


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