Export to your Reference Manger

Please Copy & Paste



Bookmark and Share

Left feels right! A usability study on the position of answer boxes in web surveys

[journal article]

Lenzner, Timo; Kaczmirek, Lars; Galesic, Mirta

fulltextDownloadDownload full text

(489 KByte)

Citation Suggestion

Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-403160

Further Details
Abstract The literature on human-computer interaction consistently stresses the importance of reducing the cognitive effort required by users who interact with a computer in order to improve the experience and enhance usability and comprehension. Applying this perspective to Web surveys, questionnaire designers are advised to strive for layouts that facilitate the response process and reduce the effort required to select an answer. In this paper, we examine whether placing the answer boxes (i.e., radio buttons or check boxes) to the left or to the right of the answer options in closed questions with vertically arranged response categories enhances usability and facilitates responding. First, we discuss a set of opposing principles of how respondents may process these types of questions in Web surveys, some suggesting placing the answer boxes to the left and others suggesting placing them to the right side of the answer options. Second, we report an eye-tracking experiment, which examined whether Web survey responding is best described by one or another of these principles, and consequently whether one of three layouts is preferable in terms of usability: (1) answer boxes to the left of left-aligned answer options, (2) answer boxes to the right of left-aligned answer options, and (3) answer boxes to the right of right-aligned answer options. Our results indicate that the majority of respondents conform to a principle suggesting placing the answer boxes to the left of left-aligned answer options. Moreover, respondents require less cognitive effort (operationalized by response latencies, fixation times, fixation counts, and number of gaze switches between answer options and answer boxes) to select an answer in this layout.
Keywords online survey; questionnaire; development; user; user research; user-friendliness; response behavior; survey research; achievement; cognition; orientation; man-machine system; sociotechnical system; interaction; computer
Classification Methods and Techniques of Data Collection and Data Analysis, Statistical Methods, Computer Methods
Free Keywords Web survey; questionnaire design; questionnaire layout; visual design effects; eye tracking; usability
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 743-764
Journal Social Science Computer Review, 32 (2014) 6
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894439313517532
ISSN 0894-4393
Status Preprint; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications