Before you jump “across the pond” with your survey, make sure you consider the following. Failing to fully understand and respect your target, even though you both technically speak English, could be detrimental to the quality of your data.
1. Yes, translate! While British English and American English are very similar, and we certainly understand each other, taking the time to translate and localize your survey will ensure that your respondents feel respected, and will help to ensure the quality of the data you receive in return. Running a survey about cookies? Make sure you ask about biscuits when speaking with your British respondents!
2. Ensure stereotypes aren’t coloring your questioning: It can be subtle, but take the time to make sure no unconscious stereotypes have snuck into your questionnaire. Don’t assume that because your respondent is from Scotland that they drink tea, or that your Northern Ireland participants will have consumed Irish Whisky in the past week. Make sure your questioning is fair and unbiased, as with any good questionnaire.
3. Check your locale: What audience are you really looking to reach? The United Kingdom? Great Britain? England? Ireland or Northern Ireland? There are many ways of calling the British Isles, so it’s important to be clear on which specifically you are looking to reach. Confused? This chart can help:
4. Once your locale is sorted, check your stats: “Getting statistics for the whole of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – is getting trickier as the regions move politically further apart […] Four separate statistics bodies operate in almost blissful independence of one another: the Office for National Statistics, the Scottish Government, StatsWales and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.”- The Guardian So if you’re looking to compare your findings to census data, you may be in for a real hunt to track down the statistics you need.
5. Respect Bank Holidays: They are many, they are frequent. Bank Holidays are public holidays in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. On these days the majority of the working population is granted time off. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be at home looking to take your survey. Instead, you’d be prudent to recognize when your field dates include a Bank Holiday and build in an extra day or two of field time to account for people who are taking time away from their computers/devices to enjoy some leisure time with friends and family. This chart on Wikipedia gives a good breakdown of Bank Holiday days and the countries of the British Isles which observe them.
Taking a little extra time to ensure your survey is relevant, relatable and respectful of your British audience will go a long way to ensuring that your data is useable and actionable in the end.