Improving the Survey Grid with Online Technology – Part 1

Grids are a staple in online surveys. They’re easy to setup in any platform, simple for respondents to use, efficient at collecting data. They’re also boring.

It’s true, right? We’re not suggesting you throw them out the window. Just be aware that overuse of grids can lead to disinterested respondents, abandons, speeders, and straight-liners.

What’s the alternative then? Thanks to the power of online technology, you have options!


Instead of a radio button, turn the input into a slider bar. Seems like a basic solution that makes a grid only slightly less boring, but there are so many options available. Slider questions can be enhanced even further by adding more interactive functionality.

The slider button can become an image, such as a logo, car, or emoji. The scale can change color, depending on how the respondent answers. If they rank something higher it can become red or if they rank something lower it can become blue. The sky is the limit with this – for example you could include sound effects where it sounds like a sliding trombone as the respondent moves the button up and down the bar. Not saying that would be a good idea, but you really can include anything!

We can also include images that change based on the response. In the example below, the smiley face changes from a frown, to neutral, to a big smile based on the response given.

Drag and Drop

While sliders can still be bulky, drag and drop functionality reduces the size of the grid and transforms it into a different type of exercise altogether. The question scale at the top become separate buckets, while the sub-questions along the left become the items. The respondents then click and drag the items into the buckets to make their selections. It’s simple functionality that is easy to use for the respondent, especially on mobile devices.

The customization options are limitless. Use images instead of text. Have respondents create and name as many buckets as they want to classify the different items. The buckets can change color based on how many items respondents place in them. If the items have a value associated with them, such as a dollar amount, the bucket can calculate the value as items are added to it – like a shopping cart. Heck, the buckets can even look like shopping carts!


A even less bulky and more user friendly option is the carousel. The staple of any carnival or theme park, who doesn’t love the sight of a classic carousel with its ornate horses? Carousels are also a staple in web design. You’ve probably seen them on hundreds of websites, including the top of our homepage. Use this technology to your advantage.

A grid with lots of rows can be visually overwhelming, but a carousel is a much simpler and less dominating exercise. Here the sub-questions appear one at a time, with the rating scale remaining stationary underneath. This puts the focus on each individual sub-question, instead of everything placed in multiple rows. This also prevents respondents from possibly not selecting the correct row for their answer.

After the respondent makes their selection, the carousel then moves onto the next sub-question, with the continue button appearing once complete. Respondents can also go back to review and revise their previous answers.

The sub-questions don’t have to be text either – they can also be images, concepts, profiles, or videos. You can incorporate logic to show certain sub-questions, and use randomization to show them in different orders.

Improve the Grid, Improve the Experience

We are not saying you need to give up grids all together, just mix things up a little bit. Throw in a little of the unexpected. Your respondents will thank you.

Not quite sure how and when to implement these features into your study? We can help with that too. We are happy to brainstorm ideas, provide suggestions, and help you try things out. Check out some examples here.

Elizabeth Lepisto