Saturday, November 12
Questionnaire Design
Sat, Nov 12, 4:00 PM - 5:25 PM
Hibiscus A
Design Trade-Offs

From First-Generation Web Business Survey Questionnaires to User-Centered Development (303579)

*Petri Tapani Godenhjelm, Statistics Finland 
Jussi Rouhunkoski, Statistics Finland 
Taneli Tuomola, Statistics Finland 
Marko Ylitalo, Statistics Finland 

Keywords: business survey questionnaire, user-centered design, web form design, data collection software

Statistics Finland introduced its first electronic questionnaire for a business survey already in the late 1990s. From the end of 2006, this capability of responding using a web form was extended to all major and permanent business surveys that the Statistics Finland operates. This change from paper to web had a focus on technical and process needs and the perspective of the respondent was not much taken into consideration. A round of usability testing with the web questionnaires was one input to think the design process differently. Especially it challenged the thinking of subject matter specialists on data quality by revealing the problems that the respondents had when filling in the questionnaire. Another milestone was a release of the new version of in-house built data collection management software XCola (XML-based collection application) in 2012. This upgrade required that each questionnaire had to be converted from the old version to the new one. The developers had to adopt a new methods in software developments as the migration was implemented swiftly and the resources were limited. Previously every single survey had more or less unique questionnaire form but during the conversion process more uniform questionnaire layout and features were utilized. Concurrently, the conversion revealed bugs and design flaws that could not be immediately solved but also aroused a lot of new ideas for future development.

This papers discusses how the questionnaire design process and methods have evolved in the Statistics Finland both from the perspective of questionnaire designers and software developers. We underscore the importance of mutual communication and iterative development that heavily involves prototyping and testing. These best practices we have adopted are illustrated with a few challenging questionnaire redesign projects. We also bring out the benefits of in-house software development of the data collection tools.