The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has added capabilities to its in-house questionnaire design tool Author, helping the organisation to create and update surveys on the impact of coronavirus on businesses.
The tool now includes ‘skip logic’, which makes it easier for survey designers to let respondents skip questions depending on earlier answers – the automated equivalent of a note on a survey reading ‘if you answered no then go to section 2’.
Jordan Stewart, ONS’s Author product manager, told a workshop on form design run by the Government Digital Service (GDS) that the organisation had been required by the Government to set up the Business Impact of Covid Survey in less than two weeks, with questions from a range of departments, followed by new versions released every fortnight.
The urgent requirement for data on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown and the Government’s furlough scheme has meant the survey had to be developed without time for research or multiple drafts of the questionnaire. There has also been no time to introduce a legal requirement to fill in the questionnaire, which is normally the case for business surveys.
“Users can build far more complex rules than they were previously able to do,” Stewart stated in his slides for the workshop. “They have the ability to choose from two types of logic to guide their respondents through a potentially long, repetitive and irrelevant questionnaire.” Skipping irrelevant sections helps keep the survey shorter, improving response rates.
ONS has also introduced a folder function, allowing questions to be grouped so they can all be skipped based on one response. Stewart said that the work to add these functions was prioritised and they were delivered in a single development sprint period.
He added that working from home made it easier to get colleagues to take part in research sessions, as “participants can’t pretend they are too busy to take part”.
ONS is now looking at using the product for social surveys: “The complexity of their questionnaires is far more advanced than any business survey, meaning we will be needing to build on the success of skip logic and folders to meet their requirements,” Stewart wrote in the slides.
GDS is planning more meetings and workshops on form building in the public sector, with small online meetings on 4 November and 2 December and a workshop on open sources and commercial form software in 2021.
Image from presentation published online by the Office for National Statistics, Open Government Licence v3.0