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Working Paper Number rsm2018-13
Elizabeth M. Nichols, Kathleen M. Kephart, Lawrence A. Malakhoff
Component ID: #ti1140822319


In 2017, staff in the Center for Survey Measurement of the U.S. Census Bureau conducted usability testing and accessibility testing of the 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) online survey. During the usability sessions, participants accessed the survey either on a Census provided laptop computer or on their own mobile device. This report provides a summary of the usability and accessibility methods and results from evaluating the NSSRN online survey. Focus is applied to the experience participants had on webpages where branching logic (i.e., skips sequences) was implemented by disabling (i.e., greying out) or re-enabling question and response fields based upon the answer given to an earlier filter question on the page. Disabling questions to implement skip sequences is different from the typical Census Bureau online survey design where there is only one question per page and skip sequences are implemented by skipping entire pages that do not apply based on prior responses. During usability testing, we observed no usability issues when the question text, the response field, and the response field label were disabled. Participants were able to understand that the question did not apply to them. There was no indication that participants were answering the filter questions in such a way to avoid having to answer more questions. In fact, we observed one instance where the participant changed her answer to the filter question because she could read the subsequent disabled questions and realized she had misinterpreted the filter question. When the participant then changed her answer to the filter question, she actually answered more questions, and not fewer. While disabling the question and the response field appeared to work well for participants, we did observe participant confusion when only the response field was disabled, and not the response field label. When presented with that design, many participants tried to answer the disabled question and did not understand why it would not respond to repeated tapping in the field. 

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