survey design that gets results

When we talk about building good surveys, the conversation tends to revolve around questions, delivery, and timing. Should I ask open-ended or closed-ended questions? Should I embed surveys in emails or link out to them? How long should I wait to send a CSAT survey after a case is a closed?

These questions are important—they can make or break a survey. But just as important are the visuals. Survey design sends a succinct message about the brand at the very moment consumers are asked to evaluate it, yet it’s regularly disregarded, resulting in lower survey response rates and poor brand perception.

Below we explain why survey design is so important and how you can improve yours.

Design influences our brand perception

The influence and power of design is everywhere. We hire city planners and structural engineers to bring beauty and logic to our cities. When you walk into the mall, you’re met with colorful storefronts that tell abbreviated stories of what’s inside. In the restaurant industry, the fancier spots spend more time on dish presentation, every drizzle and drop a nod to their distinction. And when you get down to actual products, packaging impacts purchase decisions more than advertising.

Web design is more important than ever too. Ten years ago, you could get away with a poorly designed website. Nowadays, a clunky, 2000s-esque site can prove deadly to your brand. Since website builders like Squarespace and Wix entered the scene, you don’t need a dedicated designer or even design and development experience to create the slick, functional site consumers expect.

It takes 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about a site’s design; the more visually appealing a website is, the more people engage with it. This is the way humans operate. Design strongly influences our perception of a city, a store, a restaurant, a product, a website, and ultimately a brand. It affects our decisions to engage and purchase or disengage and abandon.

Survey design impacts survey results

When it comes to online surveys, design is no less important. In fact, recent stats suggest visual IQ is rising and over 84% of communication will be visual by 2018. This reinforces design’s impact on survey response rates and overall survey success. Poor survey design yields fewer responses and increases the non-response bias, leaving you with bad data that can lead to bad decisions, so creating a good survey is as much about the visuals as the content.

5 Survey Design Tips

1. Pick an engaging survey background image

Your survey background image should carry your brand message without being too busy. In the example below, the background image tells The North Face brand story without taking away from the logo or the call-to-action.

survey design with background images

You can leverage background images to support your brand’s story without undermining the end goal: getting people to complete the survey. The GetFeedback builder offers high-quality survey templates and styles to work from, or you can start designing surveys from scratch with your own fonts, images, and colors.

2. Adjust for readability

The average adult attention span is just 8 seconds, so time is of the essence. Your survey should draw attention to the question immediately. Adjusting the contrast and brightness of your background image and questions is one of the best ways to do that.

In the GetFeedback builder, you can adjust your survey theme to make the text and buttons pop. Use the Background Image “Brightness” setting to control the contrast. Since colors are foundational to branding, it’s smart to keep your survey design cohesive by using your logo or general business colors. You can match them by plugging the hex codes from your logo into the color fields.

3. Only use survey images when it makes sense

Survey images are a great way to enhance your design, but you should follow some basic rules when adding them. First, it’s important to use a simple background image or just a solid color. This reduces noise and draws attention to the question. In the example below, the gradient background adds appeal without distracting from the text.

survey design for mobile

If you’re embedding a survey on your website, no background is the best background. The question will take up a good deal of real estate, and background images can add clutter to an already-busy page.

4. Design mobile surveys

About 30-40% of all online surveys are taken on a mobile device and that number is only growing, making mobile optimization key to survey success. A poor mobile survey reduces response rates and makes for an all-around worse user experience, which negatively impacts your brand as a whole. Every GetFeedback survey is designed for desktop and mobile, so you can support your users wherever they may be.

5. Preview your survey

Always take your survey for a test run before you distribute it. You may catch design hiccups or formatting issues that you wouldn’t have noticed in Build mode. Plus, you’ll get a real feel for the user’s experience on all devices.

You can preview surveys by clicking a device icon at the top right of the GetFeedback Build tab. Click through every question to make sure the text, buttons, and images pair well and look nice against the background image. If text is cramped or poorly formatted on mobile, be sure to revise. Once you’re done, simply exit the preview and you’re ready to roll.


Businesses put a lot into their brands. A logo can tell a story about a company’s values, culture, and audience, framing the way customers interact with and talk about it. The impact is truly immeasurable, and the most successful companies go to lengths to honor that vision and message.

Online surveys, like email campaigns and product packaging, can serve or undermine the brand you’ve worked hard to build. Take time to send the right message by designing surveys that work for you.