Poll Designer provides several features that allow you to control the behavior and navigation of respondents as they take your poll. Most of these features are screen properties that you set in the Properties Grid when you design the poll screens that make up your poll (see Build Screens). Many of these features have been included with Poll Designer to help you create polls that prevent undesirable respondent actions. These actions can impact the reliability and validity of the resulting poll data and lead to inaccurate results. For example, if respondents skip questions or answer questions without reading them, your poll data will become tainted. Therefore, Poll Designer allows you maximum control over your respondents' actions to improve the quality of your polling data.

With PollMaker, you have control over the following features which influence respondents actions as they take your poll:


Screen Order

The simplest method to control how respondents navigate through your poll is by ordering your poll screens that make up your poll in Poll Designer. When you open a poll in Poll Designer, the names of the poll screens in your poll are displayed in order from top to bottom in the Poll Objects window (figure 1). Each poll screen also has a number next to it indicating its order within the poll (e.g. the fifth screen in a poll has the number "S5" next to it).

In Poll Designer, you have the ability to insert new screens anywhere within a poll. Poll Designer also provides two different methods for reordering the existing poll screens in a poll. In the Poll Objects window (figure 1), you can select a specific poll screen and either type in a new ordinal position for that screen or shift the screen up or down in the sequence of screens by one position at a time. If you have a poll screen opened in Design Mode, you can reposition that screen by entering a new ordinal position for the ScreenNumber property in the Properties Grid for that screen (all other poll screens affected by this change are also renumbered- e.g. if you move a screen from position 3 to position 5, then screens in position 4 and 5 are automatically changed to position 3 and 4 respectively).

The order of poll screens and branching logic together determine the order in which each respondent will view the screens that make up your poll. Therefore, by changing either of these features, you can impact what respondents see when taking your poll.


Single and Multi-Select Screens

For all Standard Input poll screens (see Build Poll Screens), you decide whether a respondent can select one or more of the possible answers. On this type of screen each answer is a button that appears "pressed" when it is selected by the respondent.

If the poll screen is a single-select screen, the respondent can only choose one of the possible answers. If the respondent has already selected an answer and then tries to select a different answer, the first answer is de-selected (its button appears "unpressed") and the second answer is selected (its button appears "pressed"). These poll screens are useful for asking questions where the possible answers are mutually exclusive (e.g. male or female).

If the poll screen is a multi-select screen, the respondent can choose one or more of the possible answers for a question. As the respondent selects each answer, its button appears "pressed". These poll screens are best used when you wish to ask a question where the possible answers may not be mutually exclusive (e.g. personal interests, hobbies).


Minimum & Maximum Number of Answers

If you specify that a Standard Input poll screen should be a multi-select screen, you can specify a minimun and/or maximum number of answers that respondents must select for a question. In Poll Designer, this capability is controlled through the Column Min Select and Column Max Select answer button properties. When in design mode and editing answer buttons on a poll screen, you can set these properties in the Properties Grid. These properties are helpful in preventing respondents from providing too many or too few answers to a question.


AllowSkip Property

With Poll Designer, you can create poll screens that force the respondent to answer all questions on the screen. If the AllowSkip property is set to "False" for a screen, a respondent will not be able to proceed to the next screen in the poll without answering the questions on this screen. As a result, you can control whether or not a respondent can skip questions in your polls. When used in conjunction with the Column Min Select property, the respondent will not be able to proceed until he has selected the minimum number of answers specified in the Column Min Select property. The AllowSkip property for a poll screen is accessed in design mode through the Properties Grid for that screen. This property can be set to either "True" or "False."


AllowUnSelect Property

Poll Designer also allows you to create poll screens that will prevent a respondent from changing her initial answer. By default, the AllowUnSelect property is set to "True" for poll screens, allowing respondents to change their answers on the screen until they proceed to the next screen. On the other hand, you can set this property to "False" if you wish to record a respondent's first choice. This property can be set by using the Properties Grid when viewing a poll screen in design mode.


Navigation Bar Properties

Every poll screen created in Poll Designer has a Navigation Bar at the bottom of the screen that includes a "Next", a "Go Back" and a "Quit" button. The "Next" button allows the respondent to proceed to the next screen in the poll. The "Go Back" button allows the respondent to return to the previous screen. The "Quit" button allows the respondent to end the poll. The Navigation Bar gives the respondent the ability to navigate from the current screen.

Through the screen properties, you can control the look, behavior and visibility of each of these buttons. You can hide any or all of these buttons which will prevent the respondent from having access to its functionality. For example, you can disable the "Quit" and "Go Back" buttons on a screen which will prevent the respondent from exiting the poll or returning to the previous screen. Therefore, the respondent will only be able to proceed to the next screen from the current screen.


AutoAdvance Property

The AutoAdvance property of a poll screen can be set so that the respondent advances to the next screen automatically once she answers the questions on the screen. When used in conjunction with the Column Min Select property on multi-select screens, the respondent will automatically advance to the next screen in the poll when she has selected the number of answers specified in th Column Min Select property. If this property is not set, the respondent must manually move to the next screen by selecting the "Next" button on the screen's navigation bar.


Minimum & Maximum Response Times

Poll Designer allows you to set a minimum and maximum response time for a poll screen. These properties represent the number of seconds from the time the screen is first displayed to the respondent. If a respondent attempts to advance to the next screen before the minimum response time has been reached, he is given a warning and his answers for that screen are reset. If he responds too quickly a second time, the poll is reset and his poll data is discarded. If a respondent does not proceed to the next screen within the maximum response time, the poll is reset and the respondent's data is discarded. The proper use of these settings prevents the poll from getting stuck on a screen if a respondent walks away before the polling session is complete and keeps someone from randomly selecting answers without first taking the time to read the questions.


Input Field Properties

Lead Input poll screens (see Build Poll Screens) allow respondents to enter textual information into input text boxes instead of answering multiple choice questions (like Standard Input poll screens). Several properties of input text boxes can be set to restrict or control the format of the information entered by the respondent. The MaxLength and MinLength property allows you to specify an upper and lower limit respectively on the number of characters that a respondent can enter in an input text box. An input mask can also be specified to control the type of characters that a respondent may enter. For example, if you ask respondents to enter a United States phone number, you can specify that only numeric characters are accepted as input. You can also specify that the first three numbers will automatically be surrounded by parentheses, and that there will be a dash included between the sixth and seventh numbers. In other words, the respondent can only input numbers but the parentheses and dash will automatically be inserted in the proper places (i.e. the format would be (###) ### - ####). To make the use of the mask property easier, Poll Designer predefines several popular masks so that you do not have to repeatedly create these masks in for your input text boxes (e.g. phone numbers, social security numbers and zip codes).

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