Online surveys are increasingly becoming the leading research tool for companies, medical and educational institutions looking to gather valuable feedback from normal everyday people on products, services and more. They then use the information they gather to improve everything from the design of a sneaker to life-saving heart medications. In exchange for this feedback, survey participants are paid a varied amount of money.
Similar to pretests, pilot tests are used to evaluate how a sample of people from the survey population respond to the questionnaire. For a pilot test, surveyors typically contact a large number of people so that potential differences within and across groups in the population can be analyzed. In addition, pilot tests for many surveys test the full implementation procedures (e.g., contact letters, incentives, callbacks, etc.). Pilot tests are usually conducted well in advance of when the survey will be fielded so that more substantial changes to the questionnaire or procedures can be made. Pilot tests are particularly helpful when surveyors are testing new questions or making substantial changes to a questionnaire, testing new procedures or different ways of implementing the survey, and for large-scale surveys, such as the U.S. Census.

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Other tools that provide for more flexibility include piping, which is the ability to insert information from previous questions. For example, if a respondent had a Samsung phone in one question, then a follow-up question could be personalized by using that information. It could be phrased as, "You said you had a Samsung phone. What influenced that purchase?" as opposed to simply, "What influenced the purchase of your phone brand?"
Define the research question: This is critically important to the success of a survey research project. Without a clearly defined question, it is difficult to determine the best approach for conducting the survey. For example, based on the research question, are the needed data exploratory, descriptive, or causal? The answer to this basic question has huge implications for the entire research process, yet it is often not directly addressed.

Similar to pretests, pilot tests are used to evaluate how a sample of people from the survey population respond to the questionnaire. For a pilot test, surveyors typically contact a large number of people so that potential differences within and across groups in the population can be analyzed. In addition, pilot tests for many surveys test the full implementation procedures (e.g., contact letters, incentives, callbacks, etc.). Pilot tests are usually conducted well in advance of when the survey will be fielded so that more substantial changes to the questionnaire or procedures can be made. Pilot tests are particularly helpful when surveyors are testing new questions or making substantial changes to a questionnaire, testing new procedures or different ways of implementing the survey, and for large-scale surveys, such as the U.S. Census.

“I participated in an in-home product trial study. A coffee machine company sent me one of the coffee makers along with about 200 coffee pods. I received $7 for completing 3 short surveys. Plus, after the study, the company said I could keep the coffee maker. So, I got like 4 mos of coffee for everyone in my household, a free coffee maker and $7!” - David W.
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