Online Surveys vs. Paper Based Surveys

The cost of paper is on the rise and everyone is going Green.   The recent post office closures and rate hikes are evidence of that.

Can They Read It?

Legibility is a huge factor when it comes to surveys so the designer must cater to every kind of person who reads it. You may think that a paper survey with jet black ink may be a plausible option but that it is the same for the clear cut text on the monitor. However not everyone can sit through a consistent period of time in front of a computer screen and work on one. This includes people who are suffering from visual impairments. Therefore it would be a great option to go for a paper survey.

The Design

Think about the design layout. Paper surveys have limited space but the sky’s the limit with online ones. Plus most open ended questions do not have enough space for the participants to work with; the cramped writing they have to adopt can make their responses illegible for the person conducting and reviewing the survey. This will not only compromise its quality but will also waste the surveyor’s time which can be utilized for more productive endeavors.

Time Consuming

Every experienced surveyor will tell you that paper surveys take time to complete. Whether it is being administered on the spot or mailed to the participant speed is an issue. Moreover keep in mind that with certain online surveys you can get the benefit of working with analysis tools that can track its progress.  SurveyRock surveys also offer the survey taker the option of interrupting the survey and coming back later to complete it.

Survey checklist for paper survey


Web based surveys are far more flexible and thus quite accommodating for both the survey creator and his/her target demographic. They can be in the form of multiple choice questions, single response questions, grid questions, list questions, etc.

Added Features

Online surveys also come with advanced logic features that are usually not present or difficult to implement in paper surveys. In addition, it is easy to include an email address in the design of the survey to notify organizations of any problem that participants need answered.

In the end, your decision will heavily weigh on what your target demographic or sample is suited to most. They may prefer simple one paged paper surveys or an online survey. There will be times when you will have to opt for both paper and online surveys. This is because if the survey is not reaching the target audience then you are wasting your time and work.  Our Premium account offers the option of easily printing/saving your survey as a PDF file.

Tons of companies will benefit from transitioning to online surveys from paper based surveys. However this does not mean that paper surveys have lost their place. That being said, continued demand in technology is diminishing their demand as well.

You can always check out for creating your online survey. Whether it’s a college project, customer review survey or an extensive research and development study, they will ensure that you receive accurate and relevant results.


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