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With the advent of digital surveys quickly replacing the traditional pen and paper approach, it is becoming increasingly important to make surveys more accessible, engaging and personalized for participants. In conjunction with this, a wealth of online survey providers have flooded the market, each with their own approach to making the survey creation process more streamlined and fluid. With the influx of online-based survey providers on the market, many common techniques of the pen and paper era have been adopted for the digital age. One of the many techniques that have been adopted during this transition is Display Logic.

The basics of display logic and skip logic

Display logic is an advancement on the traditional skip, or branch logic that is typical among paper surveys. In paper-based surveys, you will often be asked to skip certain questions based on a previous response you gave. Another example is providing a follow-up response to an answer, often to give further insight into why that answer was chosen.

Display logic takes this approach further, by hiding or removing irrelevant questions from a respondents view entirely. This is a fairly new approach that has only recently been adopted into the digital era, and has proved to be incredibly convenient for survey participants. Whereas previously, people used to have to manually skip through pages in order to continue from the right question, this can now be done automatically by filtering out irrelevant information from the respondent’s view. This helps speed up the time it takes to complete a survey and makes it more accessible for people, since there’s no need to wade through unnecessary text in order to continue

How to implement display logic into your survey

Most online survey providers have a simple setup process for incorporating display logic into a survey. While each provider may have a slightly different approach to doing this, the process is usually the same.

The benefit of display logic is that it can be applied to almost any type of question, including radio buttons, dropdown menu, checkboxes, Likert scale ratings and checkbox grid answers, to name a few. This means that any question can have logic applied to it, in order to produce a follow-up question based on a person’s response.

It is generally recommended that all your survey questions be uploaded and arranged in order before applying logic to any of them, since it is more difficult to re-arrange and change questions after logic branches have already been established.

To apply a display logic, simply choose the question you wish to branch out from, and find the ‘Apply Logic’ option (or ‘Logic’ tab, ‘Display Logic’ tab etc). You should then be presented with a page that outlines an available list of conditions to be met, in order for a follow-up question to be presented. Below are some common conditions that you may come across:

  • Follow-Up Logic: This will display or forego presenting a question, depending on the answer that the respondent chose. You can choose either a single answer or multiple answers, in order for the follow-up logic to be applied.
  • Respondent’s Details: This is becoming increasingly common among online surveys as logic and processes become more sophisticated, in order to cater towards a person’s characteristics. By storing basic information about a respondent (eg age, location, interests etc), you can decide what questions will or won’t be shown based on their specifications. An example of this could be only displaying a certain question to people over the age of 25, or presenting questions based on someone’s location.
  • Quota Specific Logic: In your survey, you may have certain goals you wish to achieve in order to meet your business requirements. This may include, having a 25% response rate from people under the age of 21 or a 10% response rate from people living in a certain region. In most tabs related to Logic, it should be possible to apply certain conditions that will enable the quota to be met.
  • Device Logic: In an attempt to streamline the survey process for mobile devices, some survey providers are implementing device-specific logic into their range of features. This option is useful for finding out what devices your respondents are using to participate in your survey, which enables you to ask questions related to their technological habits and what brands or devices they regularly interact with.

These are just some of the many possibilities that are available for incorporating display logic into your survey.

Advanced features

On top of the basic display logic functions, there are several expansions upon existing logics that can be used to your advantage. It is important to familiarize yourself with the basics first, in order to understand how each function works and how these advanced features build upon those initial concepts. Some example of advanced features include:

  • Multiple Branches: It is possible to create an entire branch of follow-up questions as opposed to just one question. This can result in a stream of questions entirely dedicated to one logic condition, which can allow you to really personalize the survey experience for participants.
  • Question Randomization: There is significant evidence to suggest that the order in which questions are asked can significantly impact how they’re answered . Without getting into too much detail, it is possible to randomize your questions (or generate new ones) in order to avoid potential bias. Understandably, this process can produce unintended problems of its own, so it should be carefully tested and monitored, in order to avoid damaging the reliability of the survey itself.


With more and more survey providers appearing on the online market, each one is competing to produce new and original ways for participants to interact with their surveys. Display logic is just one of the many functions that continues to become more sophisticated with each new iteration. Regardless of how you wish to implement them into your survey, display logic offers a wealth of possibilities that previously weren’t available several years ago. As technology improves, research continues and mobile devices become more accessible, we can expect new and exciting ways to make surveys a unique experience for the individual.

Øyvind's avatar
Øyvind Forsbak
As CTO and co-founder of Orient Software, Øyvind Forsbak oversees all of our organization’s technical matters. Since Orient Software's founding in 2005, Øyvind has guided the company's choices of technology to become a world class developer in .NET and modern JavaScript frameworks.
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