The tablet that didn’t bite

Asia Croc Art

As mentioned before, I am in the midst of co-writing a book on mobile research and today I have been working my through the contrasting roles of phones, PCs, and tablets in quantitative research, specifically with respect to surveys.

The discussion about phones was relatively straightforward, covering both studies designed specifically for phones, and studies where phones might be used by some of the respondents, whilst others used, for example, a PC.

However, when I came to write the section on tablets, I came to the realisation that not only are surveys not normally written for tablets at the moment, they are unlikely to be written specifically and solely for tablets in the future.

Tablets can be used for surveys written for phones, tablets can be used for surveys written for PCs, but why would a survey be written for tablet in such a way that it was not suitable for a smartphone AND not suitable for a PC?

Possible reasons for writing a tablet only study might focus on having a large touch screen, but that seems like a niche. A tablet only survey could be written for a specific game, but again, that would be a niche. Of course, a survey about tablets might be designed to be tablet only, but once again a niche.

It is easy to see mCAPI (mobile CAPI) and qualitative uses that are specifically tablet. But unless somebody can see something I am missing, there seems to be little need for a genre that is tablet only surveys?

Unless you know better?

ps The title “The tablet that didn’t bite” is a loose reference to a phrase used in a Sherlock Holmes story (The Sliver Blaze), where the non-appearance of something revealed a vital clue.

3 thoughts on “The tablet that didn’t bite

  1. Ray,
    You should take a closer look at the app based surveys designed for tablets. I have used Survey Pocket from Survey Analytics for some time now. I won’t go into the features in detail since Andrew from SA would be the best one to demo them for you. But this is an area where tablets rule. They can be used as clipboards or attached to purpose built kiosks in locations with iffy wi-fi. My use has been mostly in conference settings. The respondents enjoy the touch experience and the screen size is important for both data capture and display of stimuli. These surveys would not work on the small screen of a smartphone and would not work on a PC due to the lack of portability / user friendliness.
    So yes, I think you are missing something pretty important here… ;^) Good luck with the book.

  2. Thanks Frankie, and I am sure Andrew will follow up 🙂

    I think app based surveys is a potential area. However, I think I would call the categories you are talking about mCAPI, since we are not typically talking about the participant’s own tablet. We have a whole chapter coming on mCAPI, as phones, phablets, and tablets have really energised this area.

  3. Design and user experience wise tablet is a different beast (compare Flipchart experience on a mobile vs tablet, for example) but from survey design perspective the difference is not that great.

    Putting a lot of time and effort to come up with a truly tailored experience isn’t likely to yield significantly improved results in terms of response rates or data quality. In fact, it would make comparing data harder with other methods if the interaction was very different.

    Our customers are frequently interested in targeting tablet users and we use our standard survey platform (responsive mobile web) with response rates in the 20-50% range (depending on target audience and survey design) so “if it works, why change it?” applies.

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