In the last few months of 2015, I started noticing a new trend in market research blogs. This trend moved us away from focusing entirely on making surveys mobile-friendly, and instead transitioned to the term, “device-agnostic.”
I will admit, the first time I saw someone refer to device-agnostic surveys, I stopped a moment and wondered if we as an industry were ready for the shift? After all, weren’t we still attempting to make surveys mobile-friendly at a minimum?
However, I also saw the encouragement of creating surveys that could be taken on any platform as a step in the right direction. I appreciated the acknowledgment that many are still taking surveys on laptops and desktops, others on tablets, and others on smartphones. I saw the term “device-agnostic” as a shortcut to saying, “Ok, folks, now we need to be sure this survey is tablet-, mobile-, and desktop-friendly!”
I even started using the terminology myself, promoting the idea behind creating device-agnostic surveys wherever I could.
Then I started working on a project where I learned something startling. I asked if the survey was device-agnostic. The answer I received was a hesitant yes. “…but it isn’t mobile-friendly.”
When “device-agnostic” is used, I think it is extremely easy to assume that means a survey will be mobile-friendly. However, just because it CAN be taken on a mobile device doesn’t mean the experience will be pleasant for the survey respondent. Just because the grid question will convert to a format that will keep it from running off the screen on a mobile device doesn’t mean the respondent will find it easy to answer 15 rows of questions on one screen.
I started to wonder how many were using the term “device-agnostic” to make it seem like their surveys were fine for mobile devices when, in reality, it was still formatted for a desktop experience? Is “device-agnostic” being used by some in the same way “lots of character” is used by some in real estate to mean “no updates in the past 60 years”?
Please, don’t let that be the case. If you’re going to make a survey device-agnostic, make sure it is also device-friendly. Otherwise, just own the fact it’s made for desktop only (or only for mobile), and alert your audience of the fact. As a respondent, I would much rather know if I’m going to waste my time if I try to take a survey on my phone when it’s best taken on a desktop. Sure, I will also wonder when you’re going to realize how much I use my phone as opposed to my laptop at home, but at least I won’t be avoiding your surveys in the future because my experience with your “device-agnostic” survey on my phone was so poor.