Monkeying Around: Conducting Research Surveys on macOS and iOS

In this post I would like to open-up the discussion on conducting research, VoiceOver and general accessibility of researching platforms. I will focus on SurveyMonkey as the research platform in this post, but that is only because it is the platform which I have the most experience of using.

I would like to point out at this point, this post is not going to be a tutorial or written demonstration of SurveyMonkey, and the post is written assuming that you have an interest and understanding of research platforms like SurveyMonkey. If you have experience with other survey platforms, or other researching software, I would encourage you to share your opinions in the comments.

Researching Experience

To give a little background to this post, I would like to outline my relatively limited experience of researching. The research I have conducted has been restricted to College and University projects thus far, and the said projects have been concerned with business studies and management.

In addition, I am currently planning to conduct research within the company I am working for based on the topic of disability awareness. This research has given me the opportunity to explore and use platforms such as SurveyMonkey.

SurveyMonkey on iOS

For those who are not familiar with SurveyMonkey, it is essentially an online software which gives you the ability to create a survey or questionnaire. Once created, the said survey/questionnaire can be shared via social media, email or embedded on a website.

Data collected when someone completes the survey/questionnaire can then be viewed online and/or downloaded for offline analysis in programmes such as Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers. While I have used the online version of SurveyMonkey with a screen reader other than VoiceOver, I primarily use the iOS application.

I find the application to be a lot easier to use, and a lot more efficient to create a survey, edit questions, and get an overall feel of how the survey/questionnaire will appear to sighted research participants. I stand to be corrected, but I believe it is possible to create, distribute and analyse a survey/questionnaire all using the iOS application.

You can view and/or download SurveyMonkey for iOS from the App Store for free at this link, and you can read the newly created iOS App Directory entry at this link.

Accessibility of SurveyMonkey for iOS:

While the SurveyMonkey application may not be perfectly accessible, I do think the app is fully usable once you get to know how the app works. For instance, when viewing the main screen of a survey or questionnaire, there is a button labelled edit, but VoiceOver does not announce that this is a button.

Additionally, there is a letter D beside the word edit which Voiceover focusses on, and double tapping this will also allow you to edit a given survey or questionnaire. The above issue is present throughout the application in different scenarios, but aside from that accessibility quirk, the application is perfectly usable.
A feature of the iOS app which some may be interested in, is the ability to enable push notifications for responses to a given survey. This means that each time someone responds to your survey or questionnaire you will be notified on your iOS device.

I do not have a lot of experience with this feature yet, as the survey I am working on has not yet been distributed. Additionally, this feature was not available when I was using the application some years back to conduct research.

Membership Plans

I will comment on the membership options momentarily, but to ensure you are reading the most up-to-date information regarding membership please visit this page. There is a free membership plan, and this will enable you to create a survey or questionnaire with 10 questions on any number of pages.

A major drawback of the free membership, which I noticed in a previous project, is the inability to apply Skip Logic to your survey or questionnaire. To get a full explanation of Skip Logic you can visit this link, but it basically means that is Joe Blog answers Yes to Question 1, upon clicking Next Joe will be transferred to Page 3 instead of Page 2, as he does not have to answer the questions on Page 2 based on the answer given.

Another restriction of the free membership is limited export options for analysing data. This is not a deal breaker if your survey or questionnaire is 10 or less questions in length, but if you are working on a larger research project, this would be a major consideration.
Moving on to the paid memberships, there are 3 options. I am currently using the Gold Membership, but that is only because a member of the company I work for has a paid membership for work purposes.

There are additional bells and whistles that come along with the paid membership in addition to the Skip Logic as mentioned, but I am not in a position to discuss the said features. With all memberships, you are able to use the iOS app which is good news.

SurveyMonkey Website on macOS

As said earlier, I primarily use SurveyMonkey via the iOS application, but I would be interested to know if the research platform is as accessible via the website. I have not used the Mac with SurveyMonkey as the company I work for uses Microsoft Windows, and the Colleges and Universities I have conducted research while attending, have also used Windows.

This is an area I would like to explore and learn more about, so if you have experience or knowledge to share, please do.

Conclusion

As stated in the introduction, this post is primarily intended to be a conversation or discussion starter involving conducting research and VoiceOver accessibility. The experience I have is quite specific to a given environment, platform, and device (i.e. iOS), so as said before, if you have any experience and or knowledge, please share in the comments.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, and I wish you luck with your research in the future.

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Comments

Submitted by Morgan Watkins on Friday, October 7, 2016

Niall,

I love discoveringa new iOS app that does real work. In my past life, we worked a lot with analytical tools like SAS and SPSS, all resident on our larger time-sharing systems. Survey preparation was a major task. It is fun to read about a survey tool that can be used from an iPhone.

Thanks for the informative piece,

Morgan

Submitted by Niall Gallagher on Friday, October 7, 2016

In reply to by Morgan Watkins

Hi Morgan,

Thank you for your comment.
It's great to know the post was informative for you.

I recall hearing about SPSS in college, and I distinctly remember nobody having anything nice to say about it :)

Kind regards,
Niall

Submitted by Ekaj on Friday, October 7, 2016

I've used the Survey Monkey website both in Windows and in Mac OS, not to create surveys but to take several. I'm happy to report that it is quite accessible with all screen readers I've used to date. Some elements speak multiple times, but that might be a coding issue. I'd also like to point out here that the surveying tool used by the platform on which my journal is hosted has very good accessibility with VoiceOver. This is both from an end-users perspective and that of a survey creator. I'm not sure if their tool has been developed in-house or if it is external. But Survey Monkey is what I've used for the most part and I'm very happy with it.