Editor’s note: Steve Wigmore is the senior director, modern surveys at Kantar. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “7 dos and don’ts of effective survey design.”

The human attention span is at an all-time low. Distracted by text messages and push notifications, the average person only manages to concentrate on a single task for eight seconds – a 33% decrease since 2000. 

This is bad news for market researchers. If you rely on surveys to gauge consumer opinion, your data could be spoiled by responder dropout, straightlining and other biases related to our hyperactive brains.

Luckily, you can collect reliable insights by being proactive about data quality during questionnaire development. It’s time well spent to polish your survey upfront for accurate insights, rather than reactively managing quality concerns post-fielding. 

It’s good to understand the dos and don’ts of effective survey design.

Modern consumers are busy. They are constantly racing against a ticking clock, only pausing during fragmented bits of leisure called “time confetti.” Most people spend these brief moments scrolling social media or answering e-mails.

As a market researcher, you must use screen-agnostic questionnaires to engage respondents during these brief moments. By optimizing your surveys for mobile devices you can reach 30% to 40% more survey takers and garner results that are more reflective of your target audience.

As previously noted, the average attention span is waning. We are constantly faced with a barrage of phone calls, news articles and enticing cat videos. Because of this, surveys should be kept short.

Generally, longer surveys correlate with higher instances of responder dropout. Research conducted by Kantar, for example, suggests that a survey over 25 minutes loses more than three times as many respondents as one under five minutes.