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Qualtrics Tutorials: Shorter Survey URLs

Qualtrics survey URLs are difficult to enter manually. URL shortening services can create an easy-to-read, easy-to-type URL for your Qualtrics survey.

Qualtrics Survey URLs

When a Qualtrics survey is "activated" for the first time, it is assigned a randomly-generated URL consisting of letters and numbers. This URL can then be used to distribute the survey over email, social media, or links from websites. However, these URLs are not very "human-readable", and researchers frequently encounter two problems when using these URLs to distribute their surveys:

Problem 1: The letters and numbers in the URL are difficult to read, so respondents find it difficult to accurately type the URL into their browser bar. (This is especially true if researchers are distributing the survey link via paper flyers or postcards.)

Problem 2: Respondents are wary of the random string of letters and numbers in your Qualtrics survey's URL, thinking that it may lead to a spam website or malware. (This is especially true if you are posting the URL to a public forum, or mass-distributing via email to a listserv.)

There are several options researchers have to address these problems:

Use a URL shortener service like Bitly or tinyurl.com to make a short, easy-to-type URL alias that automatically redirects to your survey.

A "URL shortener service" simply generates a short URL that redirects to a chosen page. In this case, you would use the URL shortener to create a "friendly" link that would redirect to your survey's URL.

If you are distributing paper flyers with the survey URL on them, this is frequently the best option.

If using a service where you choose the text for the URL, some general recommendations are:

  • Use full words instead of abbreviations or acronyms (e.g. "library" instead of "lib")
  • Use hyphens between words (e.g. "my-survey" instead of "mysurvey")
  • Avoid using underscores (they frequently become invisible if underlining is used, and users may interpret them as a space)

Create a website with a reasonable-length URL that acts as a "cover page" to your survey (or that redirects to your survey).

In this approach, you would create a separate, distinct webpage to act as a "cover page" for your survey. Respondents would be given the URL to this cover page, then click through to the "real" survey via a link on that page.

You'll need to make sure that this page's appearance is roughly equivalent (or at least similar) to the appearance of your survey. For Kent State researchers who are able to create webpages on their kent.edu departmental site, this is usually a reliable approach, because it signals to potential respondents that your survey is legitimately associated with your department.

Use a QR code creation service that respondents can scan with a smartphone to access your survey.

A QR code is a square black-and-white image composed of seemingly random pixels, which are actually a special code that can be read by certain devices. QR codes work like bar codes: a special scanning device scans the image and interprets the arrangement of the pixels into data. Modern smartphones are usually able to read QR codes.

Warning: Use with caution. You'll need to consider if the majority of your target audience will:

  • Recognize what a QR code is
  • Know how to use a QR code to access a website
  • Own a smartphone or other mobile device that can scan QR codes
  • Be willing to complete a survey on their smartphone or other mobile device

Also, because this distribution method inherently requires a mobile device, you'll want to make sure that your survey has been thoroughly tested on a variety of mobile devices.

URL Shorteners

URL shortener services create a short URL that automatically redirects to a page of choice.

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