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20 CHAPTER FOUR WEB-BASED SURVEY METHODOLOGIES AND SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES This chapter first discusses successful techniques for and are always adhered to exactly by experienced web survey issues related to design and formatting of web-based surveys. researchers, and any reasons for diverting from his sugges- Next, it compares the strengths and limitations of other sur- tions will be discussed as well. Some of Dillman's most vey methods with the strengths and limitations particular to important guidelines are: web-based surveys, so that the transit researcher can evalu- ate whether and how to best conduct a web-based survey. It Use a welcome screen that is motivational, emphasizes then describes ways to handle survey errors in web-based the ease of responding, and that instructs users how to transit surveys, which include coverage error (which occurs proceed. when a portion of respondent population is not reached), unit nonresponse error (when there are significant differences in An example of this technique was employed in the survey for results owing to over- or underrepresentation of groups this synthesis (see Figure 15). Research team experience on within the sampling frame), and item nonresponse error many web-based surveys suggests that this is an important (which occurs when respondents skip questions or fail to aspect of a questionnaire and a good way to ease respondents complete a questionnaire). Finally, the chapter describes suc- into the survey instrument. Graphics and graphic design that cessful practices and challenges faced when incorporating are interesting, eye catching, and relevant to the topic matter web-based surveys into transit research. This includes dis- give the respondent the impression that the questionnaire is cussion of the advanced capabilities of web-based surveys, legitimate and worth taking. particularly those that improve the data and information nec- essary for transit research. Use a password or personal identification number to restrict access to the survey. QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN AND FORMATTING This technique is important to control access to the survey and ensure one person/one response. This technique was There is no single way to design and format a questionnaire. As used in this synthesis survey. One effective way to make with good books that can be written using different styles, for- password protection easy for respondents is to embed the mats, and methods, so can questionnaires. If the questionnaire password into the link to the survey in the invitation e-mail is well-constructed and clear, it will be an effective survey as was done for this survey. By using this embedding tech- instrument that encourages potential respondents to participate nique, respondents do not have to type any password or code in the study. That said, there are some fundamental principles into a password screen and are taken directly to the welcome and techniques that questionnaire writers should understand screen. and be familiar with. These techniques are different from ques- tionnaires that use paper, the telephone, or other media, and are Present an initial question that is interesting and easy for presented in this section to help the transit researcher under- respondent to answer and that does not require any stand what issues need to be addressed to create an effective scrolling. web-based questionnaire. As seen in Figure 16, the first question of the synthesis The individual who has conducted some of the most survey was easy for respondents to answer, because it was significant research into what is considered good ques- asking for what type of organization they work. Often tionnaire design and formatting for web-based surveys is respondents find talking about themselves and what they do Dr. Donald Dillman. In this section, we will review the interesting. In addition, the question is short enough where it guidelines that Dillman has outlined as to what constitutes does not, for typical screen resolutions, require scrolling. good questionnaire formatting and design for web-based surveys as described in his book Mail and Internet Surveys: Present each question in a conventional format that is The Tailored Design Method (1). For each guideline, an similar to paper-based self-administered questionnaires. example will be provided when appropriate, and commen- tary on various experiences implementing web-based sur- Dillman recommends treating a web-based questionnaire veys will also be provided. Not all guidelines by Dillman like a paper-based questionnaire, where there are many

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21 FIGURE 15 Welcome screen for this synthesis survey (Topic SH-07). FIGURE 16 First question of this synthesis survey (Topic SH-07). questions on each page and where branching is done explic- work better by making the branching seamless so that the itly by telling the respondent what question to go to next. respondent does not even notice it. This is accomplished (Dillman suggests that the web survey provide a hyperlink; effectively by using the one-question-per-page method and however, the respondent must still actively click on it to link programming any required branching logic in the underly- with branch.) ing web-based survey code. However, the technique employed by the research team Dillman also recommends numbering questions so that for its surveys that has been found successful is using one the respondent understands where the question begins and question per screen, which keeps it simple for the respon- where it ends. The research team did not do this because the dent, as there is only one question, and it also means that often complex branching employed in questionnaires can scrolling is reduced or eliminated altogether. When the make it difficult to know what the exact number of the ques- respondent clicks "next," all branching is done automati- tion is for any respondent and because the one-question- cally using this technique. This technique runs somewhat per-page method makes numbering unnecessary. However, contrary to Dillman's recommendation to treat a web-based as seen in Figures 15 and 16, employing a status bar (also questionnaire like a paper-based questionnaire; however, suggested by Dillman), which is heuristic and not precise for the research team's experience suggests that web surveys complex surveys, gives the respondent an idea of how much