Click here to download word (.doc) template

It is best practice to not have the individual that created a survey be the same individual that actually builds the CommCare application itself (see the CommCare Testing plan to find out more!)

For example: the individual that designs the “paper” survey should not be the one that builds the “digital” survey. Often the expert will miss small but crucial details or get too caught up with the details.

That said, building a CommCare survey (application) from a traditional paper survey often requires a little creative license on the CommCare admin. As you can imagine it can get confusing if the admin does not know the intention of the survey question or doesn’t know if a question should be a multi-select (check box) or multiple choice (radial button) or when to skip a question. The ramifications can result in tedious back and forth between the CommCare admin and the survey designer at best to outright unusable data at worst.

A Template Strategy

Since you’ll be following the best practice of separating out the survey designer and the CommCare admin into two we will focus on these two individuals and how they will work together on building this CommCare application.


The survey designer will design the survey in Word and should include the following sections:

Cover sheet

Screening Question

Consent Form

Survey Tool

Cover sheet

Every survey should have a cover sheet that would provide interviewer instruction and information. See below for an example:

Screening Questions

Every survey should have screening questions. These are criteria that the participant must meet in order to proceed. see below for an example:

Consent Form

This part is self explanatory and every survey requires a consent form that needs to read out aloud to the participant once they meet the criteria for selection. See below for an example of a consent form:


Survey Tool

There are important aspects of the survey tool that needs to be communicated and these include instructions, data validations, and skip logic to name a few. The following is a check list of important aspects that a survey designer needs to include in their survey:

  • Question number
  • Question label
  • Response labels
  • Response codes
  • Skip logic
  • instructions for enumerators

What does that look like?

Below is an example of what a good paper survey would like that includes all the components mentioned above. Below you can see how each of the above components are portrayed in a traditional “paper” form.

note: Drag the vertical bar to see an annotated version of the survey tool to see all the different components required.