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I'm designing a mobile (phone/tablet) application where one of its primary uses will involve taking surveys. These surveys already exist on paper, and many of the questions make use of a Likert Scale.

In web based applications, a Likert scale question is typically presented as matrix of radio inputs. However, I don't think this presentation is suitable for mobile applications, where screen real estate is limited. Instead, I thought to use drop downs (specifically, Android spinners).

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Will this possibly be hard to use? I've thought about alternatively using snapping sliders as well. Any suggestions? (Note that I didn't come up with the questions/answers)

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You may not find out whether something is hard to use until real-life user contact. –  dnbrv Apr 30 '12 at 1:24

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

With the limited space available on a mobile device, I believe a better answer is to display a single question per screen, and provide buttons for each possible answer.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Different types of questions may take up less room, but it's best to be consistent; since the worst case will essentially take up the entire screen, you might as well accept that and design your UI around one question at a time.

I believe that one question at a time is also the preferred method for survey taking, but historical inertia (paper printouts, web page loading delays) have made us used to being able to read ahead.

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Thanks for the advice. I can see how that would work quite well on a phone, though would you use this layout on a tablet as well? I suppose I could have a split view, where the left pane has the question list, and the right shows the selected question. –  mystictheory Apr 30 '12 at 0:12
    
@mystictheory, I think it may be better not to show all questions, even on a tablet. I think there are independent reasons to prefer one question at a time, to reduce the risk that people's impressions of one question affect their answers to another question. You cannot eliminate this risk entirely, but showing a list of multiple questions on another pane increases the risk, so I'm not sure why you'd want to go out of your way to do that. –  D.W. Apr 30 '12 at 3:29

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