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Rivas, Alda, Christopher Antoun, Shelley Feuer, Thomas Mathew, Elizabeth Nichols, Erica Olmsted-Hawala, and Lin Wang. 2022. “Comparison of Three Navigation Button Designs in Mobile Survey for Older Adults.” Survey Practice 15 (1). https://doi.org/10.29115/SP-2022-0005.
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  • Figure 1. An illustration of a mobile survey question with the “below-content” design for navigation buttons. Blue rectangle shows what is visible before (Panel A) and after scrolling down (Panel B).
  • Figure 2. Visualization of the three experimental conditions. Top panel represents the visible content before scrolling. Bottom panel represents the visible content after scrolling.


Given the cognitive and physical changes that accompany healthy aging (e.g., reduced vision, reduced motor control), it is crucial to design mobile surveys that enable older adults to overcome the challenges that may be present during survey completion on a smartphone. The present study compared three designs of navigation button placement in terms of older adults’ performance of completing a mobile survey. The three designs included (1) navigation buttons below web page content (Below-content), (2) navigation buttons ever-present at the bottom of screen (Fixed-bottom), and (3) navigation buttons ever-present at the top of screen (Fixed-top). Sixty-two older adults completed three different surveys, each under one of the experimental conditions. The results indicated that participants completed a mobile survey faster under the fixed-bottom design than in the below-content design and that participants were more likely to select a visible response choice in either the fixed-bottom or fixed-top condition than in the below-content condition. We also found that participants perceived the fixed-top condition as more difficult to complete than the below-content condition and that most participants selected the below-content condition as their preferred format of navigation buttons in a mobile survey.
The findings of this study indicate that the below-content condition promoted higher data quality and participant satisfaction than either of the fixed buttons conditions. Given these findings, we recommend that mobile surveys include navigation buttons at the bottom of the content.

Accepted: May 25, 2022 EDT