Does the first impression count? Examining the effect of the welcome screen design on the response rate

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Roos Haer and Nadine Meidert1


Web surveys are generally connected with low response rates. Common suggestions in textbooks on Web survey research highlight the importance of the welcome screen in encouraging respondents to take part. The importance of this screen has been empirically proven in research, showing that most respondents breakoff at the welcome screen. However, there has been little research on the effect of the design of this screen on the level of the breakoff rate. In a study conducted at the University of Konstanz, three experimental treatments were added to a survey of the first-year student population (2,629 students) to assess the impact of different design features of this screen on the breakoff rates. The methodological experiments included varying the background color of the welcome screen, varying the promised task duration on this first screen, and varying the length of the information provided on the welcome screen explaining the privacy rights of the respondents. The analyses show that the longer stated length and the more attention given to explaining privacy rights on the welcome screen, the fewer respondents started and completed the survey. However, the use of a different background color does not result in the expected significant difference.

Key Words

Web surveys; Welcome screens; Breakoffs; Design.

Table of content

1 Introduction

2 Theoretical background

3 Research design and implementation

4 Results

5 Conclusion and discussion






1Roos Haer and Nadine Meidert, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78464 Konstanz, Germany. E-mail:,

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