Web "objects" used in online surveys

Web "objects" are the controls that allow data entry on Web pages. They include radio buttons, check boxes, text boxes, dropdown menus, and sliders. The objects (except sliders) are built into the HTML programming language and are displayed by the respondent's Web browser. All online survey software packages use standard objects for data entry, so most packages are similar in that regard.


What distinguishes the software packages is the variety of layouts for the objects and how easily the effect can be achieved. In that respect, StatPac is a winner offering both variety and versatility. Our survey software will take it's best guess at which layout is best for any given question... and usually it's right, but with a single command, you can change to any layout you want.


The following are sample layouts for the various objects. In all cases, a single command was used to create the object layout. It doesn't get any simpler.


Radio buttons Check boxes Text boxes Dropdown menus Sliders

Radio buttons

  Radio buttons are used in Web surveys when you want the respondent to select only one answer from a list. Using radio buttons, the respondent will be unable to select more than one choice.


Format: Single column vertical Command to create: Radio Age


Web surveys use radio button in a single column vertical format when there are only a few mutually exclusive choices.


How old are you?
   Under 18
   45 or Older



Format: Two column vertical Command to create: Radio (2) Vegetable


When there are more than half a dozen mutually exclusive choices, they are often displayed in two columns in order to preserve screen space. The order of the response choices can be randomized. Note that a text box can be placed adjacent to any choice (usually used for the "Other - please specify")


What is your favorite vegetable?
  Brussels sprouts



Format: Horizontal Command to create: Radio (H) Rating


A horizontal group of radio buttons are often used for Likert scale questions. The horizontal format is ideal where there are few choices with short answers. Numeric values and be shown or not shown with the response choice labels.


How would you rate the new feature?
Good Fair Poor Very



Format: Horizontal matrix Command to create: Radio (-) Opinion_1 - Opinion_4


Radio button matrix formats are useful when a series of questions can be logically grouped together and all have the same scale. The order of the questions can be randomized. Numerical values can be placed next to some or all of the response choices. For example, you wouldn't want the "No Opinion" choice to have a numerical value.


Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with each of the following statements.
  1 2 3 4 5
The best way to reduce the deficit is to cut military spending.
If all deductions were eliminated, a flat tax on income would be fair to all taxpayers.
Current tax laws are basically fair to all citizens.
A national sales tax should replace the income tax.



Format: Horizontal matrix side-by-side Command to create: Radio (C) Q1a - Q6b


Sometimes you have two response scales for each question. These can be presented as two separate horizontal matrices, or they can be displayed side-by-side.


Please rate the quality of each attribute and how important it would be in your purchasing decision.
Good Fair Poor Very
  Low Medium


1. Packaging  
2. Color  
3. Smell  
4. Taste  
5. Texture  
6. Nutrition  


Dropdown menus and list boxes


Dropdown menus are used when there are too many response choices to use radio buttons. Screen space is at a premium in Web surveys and dropdown menus use very little space. List boxes are just another way to display items that could be shown with a single column radio button format.


Format: Dropdown menu Command to create: Dropdown State
Where is your company based?



Check boxes

    Check boxes are used for multiple response questions. Unlike radio buttons, where a respondent can only select one choice, check boxes allow the respondent to select multiple choices. Numerous validity checks can be performed (select at least x check boxes, select exactly x check boxes, and select up to x check boxes.



Format: Single column vertical Command to create: Checkbox Hear_1 - Hear_4


When there are only a few items to select, a single column vertical format works well. If the response choice text is very long (i.e., complete sentences or phrases) then the single column vertical format is a good choice.


Where did you hear about StatPac?
(Please select all that apply)
   Magazine or Newsletter
   Word of mouth



Format: Two column vertical Command to create: Checkbox (2) Q5_1 - Q5_8


A two column vertical format can be use to preserve screen space when there are more than a few response choices. When the response choice text is long, a one column format is preferred.


What geographic area(s) have you been targeting for expanding operations? (Please select all that apply)
   North America
   Central America
   Middle East



Format:  Horizontal Command to create: Checkbox (H) Day1 - Day7


A horizontal format is another way to present multiple response check boxes. Note that the command to create the Web object is easy to change from one format to another, so you can quickly try the different formats to see what looks the best.


What day(s) do you work at your part-time job?
  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday  



Format: Horizontal matrix Command to create: Checkbox Q1_1 - Q3_4


Check boxes, like radio buttons, can also be displayed in a matrix format. The matrix format is useful when a series of multiple response questions can be logically grouped together and all have the same response choices.


What is your involvement with the purchase of each of the following applications?
Evaluate Select Approve
Accounting software
Database software
Network software



Text boxes

Text boxes are one of the most useful Web objects for online surveys. Unlike the other objects, text boxes let the respondent enter free form text rather than selecting from a set of response choices. They are used to rank items, to enter numeric responses, or to enter open-ended text.


Format: Single line Command to create: Textbox (1) Email


A single line textbox is used when the response will be numeric, or the text will be short, and/or space is at a premium. A single line text box can accommodate as much text as you want, but it is limited because the respondent will only see the text that can be shown in the text box window at any given time. When longer text is desired, a multiple line text box is preferred.


Please type your email address.



Format: Multiple lines Command to create: Textbox (P) Suggestions


A multiple line text box is useful when you want the respondent to type an extended response consisting of one or more sentences or paragraphs. You can limit respondent's answers to a specific number of characters and display a progress bar underneath the text box to show them how much they've typed and how much is left.


What changes should we make to improve next year's conference?



Format: Grouped text boxes Command to create: Textbox Growth1 - Growth4 /T


Grouped text boxes can be used in a variety of ways. The most common is when there are a series of questions that can logically be grouped together, all requiring a numeric response. An example would be:


What has been the PERCENTAGE CHANGE during the last 12 months?
   % Prices of your products
   % Revenue
   % Earnings
   % Dividends


In a similar example, you ask for open-ended numeric responses on a group of questions, but you want the responses to add to 100. You can provide a "total" cell to make it easier for the respondent to know what's left.


Allocate 100 points to reflect how your firm will grow during the next 12 months.
   Growth from sales
   Growth from acquisitions
   Growth from partnerships
   Growth from licensing arrangements



In another example, you might want respondents to rank a group of items, say 1, 2, and 3. You can create various validity checks to control the responses (e.g., no duplicate ranks, all three ranks must be specified, etc.).


Rank your top three priorities (1, 2, 3) over the next 12 months, where 1 is most important.
          Reduce cost
          Lower inventory
          Increase customer base
          Improve service
          Increase profit
          Reduce product defects



Sliders are a alternative method of collecting psychometric data Sliders are an excellent way to present psychometric scaling questions in a visual perspective. Instead of asking a respondent to type a number between 0 and 100, you ask them to move the slider to a position on the scale.  Sliders are not a standard Web object, but rather a special feature in StatPac online survey software.




Pessimism/Optimism Rating

  Very Pessimistic


Very Optimistic


On a scale of 0 to 100, what is your opinion about the future of our economy?


(read more about the capabilities of our online survey software)