Traffic lights are simple and straightforward. When the light is red, we stop. When the light is green, we go. There’s nothing confusing about it. But what if the light is yellow? We’d have to make a decision–whether to go or to stop. Which one would it be? Which one would win out?
When taking a survey, sometimes you have both green and red lights. The green light (Pro!) is people’s motivation to keep going and finish the survey. Let’s start with the Pros of Logos.
Why are they a green light? Logos tell people that an important person or company is asking the questions and that they should take the survey seriously. And there has been tons of psychological research on how important people and authority figures can get people to do–and finish–things. The work that psychologists have done can be proved outside of the lab and in everyday life however–at your job, for example. Think about it. You’re probably more likely to take the advice of a colleague or your boss if they’re more of an expert in their field than you are, right?
Let’s take a look at another example of a Logo Pro–name brand recognition. Say you’re sent a survey that has a familiar ‘swoosh’ logo in it and you recognize that the survey’s coming to you from Nike. You’re probably more likely to take the survey because the brand recognition factor has kicked in. Think about our earlier example about taking advice from your expert colleague or boss–you’re more likely to take their advice than from a stranger.
Why are they a green light? Progress bars can basically act like a coach, encouraging people to keep on trucking and reach that finish line. Again, academic research has found that hearing an encouraging voice helps keep you motivated. For example, how parents behave on the sidelines of their children’s athletic games can affect their performance. Kids found it incredibly helpful when parents called out things like, “You’re almost there…You can do it…!”, etc. If you’re interested in reading the full study from the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, click here.
Yet these same two features–a logo and a progress bar–can also be red lights or Cons. Why? Let’s take a look.
Back to logos…
Why are they a red light? Logos are usually designed in ways that’ll make them eye-catching and appealing–but that can switch respondents’ focus from each individual survey question to your logo. That distraction makes them pay less attention to each question and more attention to your logo. Remember the name brand recognition we listed as a Pro? Well, that can be a Con too depending on the goal of your survey. For example, if the chocolate company Godiva were to send out a survey asking people to rank their favorite chocolatiers, just seeing the Godiva logo might’ve unwittingly biased respondents’ ability to fairly rank competitors.
Back to progress bars…
Why are they distracting? When there’s a progress bar, respondents constantly monitor it to see how much of the survey is left, and are always thinking about how much of the survey they have to complete. And that’ll take their attention away from what they’re supposed to be thinking about: the survey questions themselves. If people weren’t thinking about how long the survey will take, how fast the progress bar is going wouldn’t matter.
So if there are red lights (Cons) AND green lights (Pros) in your survey, which one wins out in the end? Turns out logos and progress bars are more like yellow lights! Depending on the goals of your survey, using logos and/or progress bars might be a strength or a weakness, so you should decide whether to go or to stop and choose what will work best for you.
We hope you find this breakdown helpful in your next research project and as always, don’t hesitate to let us know if you have additional questions!