BOS - Online Surveys

powerful, flexible online surveys

Complex routing ADVANCED

This tutorial is about complex routing (or ‘branch-logic’) which you can use to create different routes through your survey that are the most relevant to each respondent.

This page explains how to:

  • Plan your routes.
  • Set up the different routes through your survey.
  • Test your routing.
  • Trouble-shoot your routing.

Planning your routes

It is important to plan ahead to ensure that all the different routes or paths through your survey are going to work and make sense to your respondents. It’s a good idea to sketch the survey flow, including all possible routes, on paper before starting to build your survey. Number each survey page in your diagram and then refer to these numbers when building the survey.

Consider the following questions:

  • What do you want to find out?
    It seems an obvious question, but focusing on exactly what kind of information you need from respondents, and how you will analyse it, will help create the most efficient survey flow.
  • How many pages do you need?
    Routing happens at page level, i.e. people are directed to the next relevant page when they click ‘Next’ or ‘Submit and continue’. You cannot use routing to skip questions within a page. You must put the questions that you want your respondents to skip on a separate page. As you can only have one routing question per page, this will determine the minimum number of pages for your survey. Make sure you include the ‘Finish’ (penultimate) page, which must have an unrouted path to the final ‘Thank you’ page.
  • What will be your default flow, and what will be the branches?
    Every survey has a default flow: a path from start to finish from which alternative routes branch off and join back in. The default flow may be very easy to determine if your survey only has one short loop away from the main pathway. It may be more complicated if your pathway splits off into several distinct branches, in which case you have to decide on one of these branches to act as the default flow.

Setting up the different routes through your survey

Start by creating all the pages you need for your survey, following the numbering of your flow diagram. Make sure you include a Welcome, Finish, and Thank you page.

To set up your default flow:

  1. In the survey builder icon Survey builder, find the page from which your different routes will start and click on the edit page Edit page icon.
  2. Click on Advanced options.
  3. From the Unrouted respondents go to drop-down menu, select the next page in your default flow.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for all the pages in your default flow.  This will be the route that your respondents will follow if they do not choose any answers that direct them away from the default pathway.

To set up your alternative routes:

  1. In the survey builder icon Survey builder, find the first question you want to route from and click the edit icon Edit question icon.  This has to be either a multiple choice (single answer) or selection list question and must not be a sub-question.
  2. In the question edit window, click on the arrow arrow next to the answer option that will take respondents down your first custom route.
  3. At If selected, jump to, click on the drop-down list and select the page you want to route to.  Please remember that:
    • You cannot route straight to the final ‘Thank you’ page.
    • You cannot use routing to skip questions within a page.  You must put the questions that you want your respondents to skip on a separate page.
  4. Click Save. The logic icon Logic icon will now appear next to your question.
  5. Back in the survey builder icon Survey builder, find the page that you have just routed your answer option to and click on the edit page Edit page icon.
  6. Click on Advanced options.
  7. At Unrouted respondents go to, choose the next page in your custom route from the drop-down menu.
  8. Click Save.

Repeat steps 1–8 until you have added all of your custom routes.  Ensure that all your routes direct back either to the default pathway, or to the penultimate (second-last) page of the survey.  You must ensure that none of your routes finish on the final ‘Thank you’ page of the survey.

Testing your routing

To check your survey flow:

  1. Click on the survey map icon Survey map link in your Design tab.
  2. Check the diagram to see if the survey flow is correct. A red border around a box means the routing on that page is invalid.
  3. If you want to reset your routing, click on the Clear all logic button at the bottom of the page.

preview survey icon Preview your survey to check all possible routes work as you intended.

Pilot your survey thoroughly to check if your survey flow makes sense to respondents and that you end up with the kinds of results you need.

Trouble-shooting your routing

Here are some common reasons that your routing may not work as expected:

  • You can only add routing to multiple choice (single answer) questions or selection list questions.  Routing cannot be added to any other question type.
  • Sub-questions cannot be used as routing questions.
  • Ensure that none of your routing questions or pages point to the final ‘Thank you’ page of the survey. Your respondents must not skip the second-last page of the survey, otherwise they will not be able to click Finish and submit their answers.
  • Ensure you have put the questions that you want your respondent to skip on a separate page.  You cannot use routing to skip questions within a page.
  • Check that the intended landing page for the question hasn’t been moved or deleted. Re-route your question to a different page, if necessary.
  • Make sure you do not have more than one routing question on the same page. Move one of the questions to a new page, if necessary.
  • Make sure you do not have a screening question and a routing question on the same page. Move one of the questions to a new page, if necessary.
  • Check that each route is complete and that there are no ‘orphan’ or ‘dead-end’ pages, i.e. pages that aren’t linked to from anywhere else, or are not linking to a valid page in your survey.
  • If in doubt, click the Clear all logic button on the Survey map and set up your routing again from scratch.