Mobile and Market Research

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I’m going to eventually write a post about my 18-month journey to taking a tracker from mobile unfriendly to device consistent.

That’s not this post.

This post is about the terminology being used when discussing surveys that are being adapted for mobile and a lesson I’ve recently learned about how we use these terms thinking we all understand each other, only to find we actually have slightly (but important) differences in definitions.

Mobile friendly

Mobile friendly means, basically, a survey will render decently on a smartphone. The survey might be designed for a desktop computer, but the platform used to program the survey allows for it to render okay on a smartphone.

By “render okay” or “render decently,” I mean the text will wrap so you don’t have to scroll across when it’s question text. Grids probably require you to turn your phone 90 degrees so you can see the majority of the grid responses.

Mobile adaptable

This term is similar to mobile friendly, and sometimes, it means the same thing as mobile friendly, but some groups use this term to mean you’ll never need to scroll across, even if you have to turn your phone 90 degrees to see the entire grid for a question.

Mobile first

Mobile first means the survey is designed for a mobile experience, but it might render differently on a desktop computer. This could mean that a vertical scale on a mobile device suddenly is shown horizontally on a desktop computer (true story), or that a set of accordion questions are shown as individual questions on individual pages on a desktop computer.

Device agnostic

Again, this term is similar to mobile first, as the general consensus seems to mean the survey will appear well on any device. However, that doesn’t mean it will appear the same way on all devices. (See above about “mobile first” for examples of how it could look differently on a desktop computer versus a smartphone or tablet.)

Device consistent

This new term was offered up as the team I am currently on was meeting with market research companies to ask them how they defined “mobile first.” We wanted to move from a survey that would render differently based on the device the respondent was using to a consistent experience regardless the device being used. I had originally thought that’s what “device agnostic” meant, and then learned that wasn’t the case. Then we started using “mobile first,” thinking that’s what it meant, to learn that wasn’t always the case. So, during one meeting, “device consistent” was born. I can’t wait to see what terms we’ll need to develop as we move into AR/VR surveys… “Experience consistent” maybe?

Curious how you’ve been adopting mobile design in your research, what terms you’ve been using, and how you define them?

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