Devices and browsers – how are respondents completing online surveys? July 13, 2015

Devices and browsers – how are respondents completing online surveys?

A dial-up modem connected to a chunky desktop computer used to be the only way we could make use of the Internet in our homes. Today, we have smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and even smart refrigerators to surf the net on. With all these choices, we were interested to find out how people are actually completing online research. Using 400 respondents from recent surveys, ensuring an even split across all age groups, we looked into the different devices and browsers they are using.

We found that computers are still by far the most popular way for our respondents to complete online research projects. Despite all of the available alternatives, 81% used computers to complete their surveys, 10% used tablets and 9% used smartphones. However, not everyone is permanently stuck in old habits – compared to last year, the number of respondents on mobile devices has grown by 47%. Disappointingly, nobody was found to be adventuring and completing surveys on their fridge!

In general, computer usage increases with age, while usage of mobile devices decreases with age. However, 16-24 year olds buck this trend, with a similar number of this age group using computers to 45-54 year olds. This could be due to the younger generation largely being students with access to computers at school or university.

Looking at devices, 35-44 year olds were the most likely age group to be using a tablet while 16-24 year olds were the least likely, comprising just 15% of all tablet users. Smartphone use was highest amongst 25-34 year olds, with over a quarter using them to complete their surveys.

In terms of browsers, the top three browsers used on computers were Chrome (42%), Internet Explorer (28%) and Firefox (21%). Younger people were more likely to be using Chrome, whereas the use of Internet Explorer rose with age. The percentage of Chrome users on PC and Mac varied only slightly, suggesting that Chrome is popular amongst both Mac and PC users. The vast majority of Safari users (80%) are using the latest version of Safari. Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox users were far less likely to have updated their versions of their browsers recently. In particular Firefox users were slack to update, with only 2% of all users using the latest version of Firefox and 74% using Firefox from three or four versions ago.

With all the combinations of devices and browsers, we are spoilt for choice when completing online research projects. Despite computers still being the favourite option, smartphones and tablets are quickly gaining in popularity. Different ages have also shown to have different preferences for both devices and for browsers, with the general trend of computer usage increasing with age. What seems for sure is that inventive people will continue to create new ways to go on the Internet, and this will in turn continue to create new and exciting opportunities to talk to respondents online. It will be interesting to see which devices prevail and whether using a desktop computer for online surveys will become a thing of the past. But for now, it seems as though it remains well-loved and relevant.

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