Battle of the Features: Branching vs. Question Display Logic

In a platform as robust as Zarca’s, with a breadth of features not available in most online survey solutions, we occasionally encounter a question about “redundant features.”  This question often arises with respect to my two favorite features — Branching and Question Display Logic.  While these features may be similar in concept, they each perform distinct functions, giving the survey creator an opportunity to enhance surveys in unique ways.


Branching, also known as Skip Logic, is a feature that allows survey creators to determine the questions that participants should and should not see based on previously answered questions.  For example, if a survey contains a question about the highest level of education you have achieved and you respond by stating you earned a bachelor’s degree, you should not be prompted with additional questions about the experience of receiving a doctorate.  Branching ensures that participants do not have to see questions that are not applicable to their circumstances. This further ensures that the survey creator will receive the best data possible.

When implementing the Branching feature, the survey creator must direct the participant from one survey page to another.  Based on how a participant answers a question on one page, he/she may be directed to another page for a series of follow-up questions.  For this reason, we say that Branching is “page-to-page dynamic.”

Question Display Logic

Question Display Logic (QDL) is similar to Branching in concept because it allows the survey creator to display certain questions based on how participants respond to preceding questions. Unlike Branching, however, QDL is not page-to-page dynamic.  With QDL, the follow-up question will pop up on the same page.  For example, if a survey contains a question asking the participant to rate the quality of a conference, and the participant selects “Poor,” the QDL feature can prompt a text box to appear immediately below the original question. The participant can then offer additional feedback and further explain their selection.

When survey creators ask me, “Which feature should I use?” I share the following tip:  If you are asking multiple follow-up questions that are best placed on a page by themselves, use Branching.  If, however, you are simply looking for a simple response to a single follow-up question, use Question Display Logic.

Happy surveying!