Ethology and the web

Date of publication: June 15, 1999

Author: Andrew Jeavons


Web surveys are now an established part of market research. However one area that has not been closely studied is the behaviour of respondents in terms of their interaction with the questionnaire. Web surveys are self- completion surveys unlike traditional CATI and ('AIM surveys. Respondents complete the survey in isolation and the exact nature of the user interface varies considerably. Browser options can vary what the respondent sees radically and the survey designer has little control over this. Using logfiles from a commercial Web interviewing system (scy Web) actual respondent behaviour in the interview and errors can he tracked and recorded. This paper presents an analysis of (his data from several different surveys. Question types and formats that seem to cause the respondent either to quit or wrongly complete can be identified via these logfiles. The author attempts to develop a taxonomy of respondents based on their behaviour monitored via the logfiles. Finally the author puts forward some proposals for the enhancement of Web survey tools taking into account their unique nature.

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