by Jenny Fry
Recently, the Museum Studies Graduate Association at University of San Francisco organized and hosted a campus-wide event with Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This event presented me with a wonderful opportunity to practice using new evaluation tools and gathering data that will help MSGA improve future events. I sent online surveys to event attendees and received thirty-one responses back. I asked visitors about their overall satisfaction with the event and its logistics and whether they would recommend another MSGA event to a friend.
Here are some key findings:
- 94% of participants said the event was Excellent, while 6% said it was Very Good.
- 94% of participants said the event length was just right.
- 65% said the event worked fine with their schedule
- 23% said they would have preferred a night or weekend program
- 60% strongly agreed with the following statement: prior to the event, I received all of the information I needed to attend the event.
- 60% strongly agreed with the following statement: the event was very well planned and organized
- 83% said they did not have any trouble finding the event.
- This was special because of the small and personal venue in which to learn so much from Lonnie Bunch. He’s an amazing public speaker and educator. Thanks so much for organizing this.
- Eventbrite sent 1-2 too many emails close to the event.
- I wanted to stay for the reception but would have exceeded the 2-hour parking time slot I had.
- Thanks for organizing the event! Thrilled to support the program and the museum.
Traditionally, museum evaluators learned about visitor behavior by recording data by pencil on paper attached to clipboards. But with today’s “mobile revolution,” museum evaluators and interpretive planners are recycling those old paper surveys in favor of evaluation software on mobile and tablet technology such as iPads, Android tablets, and iPhones.
“The mobile survey trend is not going away anytime soon,” explains Laura Jett, Senior Market Research Analyst at Cricket Wireless and Ryan Nelsen, Product Marketer at Qualtrics. These two market researchers held a Qualtrics webinar on July 17th, 2014 called “The Mobile Survey Revolution: Insight Anytime, Anywhere; Online, Offline, or SMS.” They talked about how providing surveys through a mobile platform is revolutionary but growing rapidly; 9% of surveys taken on a mobile device in 2012 and one year later, this percentage doubled to 20% and continues to rise. Paper surveys on clipboards now have major competitors. The leading survey software available are: Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and Loop
All of these can be used either through the web or downloaded as an offline app to several different devices. Visitors to a museum can now use the device they have brought to the museum or use a museum-owned to take feedback surveys.
Evaluators use this survey software on the tablet in order to gather information instantly, literally with a tap of the finger. By pressing “send” all of the information from a survey can be collected in one place and turned into important data instead of an intern or volunteer spending hours typing the data into excel. Evaluators can also send surveys through SMS on cell phones. This will send a customer a survey onto their mobile device to then send back just by texting the organization back.
Even though the survey technology provides many benefits to museums such as speed, accuracy, flexibility, and usability, some evaluators will still use paper surveys to collect data because of misconceptions about the technology or refusal to adopt the survey software. Through an in-depth comparison of the traditional clipboard survey, mobile survey, and tablet survey, I have developed some key benefits of all three:
- The evaluator does not have to rely on a bad Internet connection or frozen screens through technology.
- The evaluator can control and view what is written down in real time.
- The museum does not have to purchase expensive technology or software to hand out the survey.
- Non-techy survey respondents have a much easier time with clipboard surveys.
- Readability, especially outdoors, is not an issue. Black ink on a clear white background is easier for a visitor to read than a screen in bright sunlight.
- Certain visitors might feel more comfortable filling out a survey on a clipboard rather than their own cell phones because of the fear that the museum will collect external data, outside of the survey.
- Mobile devices allow more instant data collection than tablet surveys
- Evaluators can have a survey on a pre-programmed app for the visitor to fill out or the evaluator can send the survey to the visitor on the visitor’s cell phone.
- The mobile industry is very fast-moving and according to the Qualtrics webinar, 91% of American adults have a cell phone.
- The surveys that are sent out through cell phones are “in the moment” questions about the individual experience.
- Visitors can respond instantaneously.
- We are comfortable using a phone for various tasks throughout the day. The average American looks at their phone 150 times a day
- Most survey software systems have responsive themes for mobile surveys. Mobile compatibility is important to consider when developing mobile surveys
- Like tablet surveys, the surveys include sophisticated matrixes that are not included in paper surveys.
- Sometimes, mobile surveys are shorter versions of a tablet survey, making both very compatible.
- The visitor can send the results by clicking a button at the very end of the survey
- The surveys are very clean and organized
- The evaluator can view the results instantly after the surveys have been completed instead of waiting for weeks to analyze the data
- The survey software develops reports for the evaluator after the answers are collected
- The offline app features of some survey software allows the evaluator to give the survey without internet
- Tablet surveys generally take less time to fill out because of the speed and accuracy of the survey.
- Printing costs are not an issue
- Tablet surveys offer more advanced rubrics, matrixes, and logics than paper surveys. There are more ways to choose how to ask the question through tablet surveys.
- Tablet survey software compiles accurate data reports.
- An evaluator with a clipboard might be more intimidating than an evaluator walking around with a tablet.
In general, any museum must consider its audience and budget before purchasing expensive technology for collecting data. Further testing these three survey techniques will prove one to be more beneficial from the others. The mobile revolution is not going away anytime soon. Art museums must accept the changing technological environment and adjust their evaluation techniques so that they continue to understand their visitors better and can create relevant and exciting programming that serves their audiences.
Nelsen, Ryan and Laura Jett. “The Mobile Survey Revolution: Insight Anytime,
Anywhere; Online, Offline, or SMS.” July 17, 2014.
Wyse, Susan E. Snap Surveys. “Which is More Effective: Paper-Based Surveys or Online
Surveys?” January 31, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2014. http://www.snapsurveys.com/blog/which-is-more-effective-paper-based-surveys-or-online-surveys/