Surveys: Easy to propose, hard to do well.
“Let’s put together a survey!,” the Coop Website Redesign team decided. “It’s easy, we’ll write out a list of questions, send them to a bunch of members. And then we’ll have answers from Coop members for a bunch of different aspects of the Coop.”
We wanted to run our survey digitally, via email and the Internet, which meant creating a nice design that was quick and easy.
A few mouse-clicks later we had a lovely template. But then we confronted the most important step: what are the best questions?
Over the course of many emails and meetings, the team wrote an initial set of 36 questions.
Our next version included even more questions because we were so eager to take advantage of this rare opportunity to survey Coop members.
(To survey the Coop, we needed — and received — General Meeting permission.)
We included every curiosity point we had regarding the Coop, its website and member satisfaction (or irritation) with both.
The topics ranged from serious to silly. A sampling:
- Broad demographics of the membership.
- Longevity at the Coop.
- How people heard about the Coop.
- Have people recruited others to the Coop.
- Why and how we miss shifts.
- Squad history (if people changed squads).
- Satisfaction with shopping.
- Satisfaction with work shifts.
- Use/fear of the paging system.
- Least favorite shopping day/time.
- Favorite cheese.
We’re glad we didn’t put members through that version of the survey. But it was helpful to write it all out.
We also knew our digital survey should reflect our long-term technology goals for the redesign itself.
Our survey needed to:
- Work well on the web and on devices like smartphones.
- Help survey-takers skip over whole sets of irrelevant questions, depending on responses. (Known as logic-switching.)
- Reassure and firmly state that information transmitted was secure and privacy was a priority.
- Have a decent parallel print version, too.
We chose TypeForm, an up-and-coming survey website that offers tidy designs and attention to detail. TypeForm supported the in-survey logic-switching we needed, along with design customizations, mobile-device support and an emphasis on accessibility and data security. We looked at some competitors, too, but few addressed so many of our needs.
Once we had our software and survey draft, we reworked our questions and survey-taking steps.
Therein lay another digital challenge: collaborating over Skype from our various daytime jobs and offices, each of us pointing at different sections of our own screens and becoming thoroughly confused.
Our team editing reduced the question list a bit, focusing on the essentials and saving spare questions for theoretical future surveys.
We also had the advantage of calling on experts.
One of the Coop’s biggest assets is the diversity and skills of its membership. We sought out members with experience crafting and conducting surveys, focus groups and technology research in general.
We asked a few to help us edit and refine our survey and it made a big difference. Our member-experts shaped a well-intentioned but long survey into the efficient, smart content the Coop membership encountered.
Our sincere thanks to Torbin Brooks and Martín Beauchamp for their honest and willing help across a number of survey facets.
Once we sent out our survey to Coop members, our teammate Mark Gallops provided point-in-time analyses of the responses, to see if we’d hit our mark with our questions. You can read about survey responses here. Our survey withstood professional scrutiny and provided very helpful guidance for our next redesign steps.
In the end, the survey was a major step forward in our redesign effort.
It helped us to build in efficient ways of evaluating the progress on our redesign. It helped us find new Redesign teammates and volunteers with skills and enthusiasm for the Coop. And it helped us try out surveying as a tool we can use around the Coop in the future.
This one has been a success, largely due to the Coop’s collaborative culture and its talented members.