OPINION17 August 2015

Surveys and ‘the swipe’


What can the research industry learn from dating app Tinder? Quite a lot, actually.


The ‘swipe’ gesture, made so popular by Tinder, is an action – or perhaps it’s even become a reflex – that market researchers at large need to adapt to, and fast. The swipe is fast becoming a universal gesture of refusal or acceptance. From a research perspective, it’s also an extremely efficient way to get people to consider and provide feedback on a large volume of content. And the responses can be enhanced through a combination of what the app already knows about the respondent and additional information captured via their mobile device. So what are we waiting for?

Design surveys with, not for the medium

Online survey providers are continually battling with the challenge of being responsive and offering a great user experience, regardless of the how and where the survey is completed. This is but the latest hurdle – for many years the industry’s number one preoccupation was with creating a range of versions that could be optimised for use on different devices.

Yet while the research industry has been busy adapting content to fit the medium, other, more innovative (and perhaps technologically-advanced) industries have focused on designing their content with the medium. Tinder’s swipe is just one such example – gestures of all kinds are increasingly common and complex on connected devices – from ‘scrolling’ to ‘pinching’. Indeed, there are many apps the research industry could learn from, and respondents and clients would thank us for doing so.

The swipe has earned its place in the researcher’s toolkit

Respondents are all too often burdened with overly complex and weighty surveys that take an onerous amount of time to complete. This commonly results in fatigue (on all sides), which can impact the results. We need to do more to meet consumers’ expectations and solicit their opinions in a way that is both intuitive and habitual. For instance, if we want to find out what consumers think about a range of logos or provide their responses to a range of attitudinal questions, we must present them in a familiar way that enables respondents to process those decisions quickly.

Given its penetration and acceptance among consumers, there is a strong argument that the swipe has earned its place in the researcher’s toolkit. Someone taking part in an online survey on their smartphone will expect to be able to swipe through images rapidly in just the same way as they do when using other apps.

As an industry we’re always looking for ways to improve. Incorporating the swipe – and other gestures on connected devices – provides a new way to present a wealth of content to a more attentive and engaged audience. It’s one way we could learn from other industries and start with the technology rather than the survey.

Andrew Wiseman is MD of ICM Unlimited



7 years ago

Can you imagine an entire survey based solely on responses that were swipes? Instead of a grid, you right and left swiped each answer. All yes or no questions were right and left swipes. No more 5 or 7 or 9 point scales, just two point yes/no answer swipes everywhere. Do you think response rates would increase? I do. I think this would be awesome. And thanks for mentioning not designing surveys *for* mobile. Surveys should be designed to work effortlessly, regardless of the device, which we know will be completely different five years from now. Want to parallel test your mobile and desktop surveys? Well, you'll be parallel testing for the next fifty years. Swipe on!

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7 years ago

The key point Andrew makes about using familiar behaviours and habits is important for researchers. However, as a left-hander, I seem to intuitively want to swipe in the opposite direction to right-handed people. Perhaps you would need to allow a handedness setting. Any other left-handers out there who can comment?

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6 years ago

We built it! The All Swipe, No Type Survey we call the Swurvey. Check us out. https://www.swurveys.com

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