Quick start user guide - Citizen Space

Using Citizen Space for the first time or planning to set-up a colleague and want to give them a quick run through?

This Citizen Space quick start guide offers an overview of everything you might need to know about Citizen Space in order to get your first activity online.

This guide is by no means an exhaustive one. It will link out to more information where appropriate, but it can also be printed out if you prefer.

Building an online survey in Citizen Space, a quick start guide

So you have been asked to create an online survey in Citizen Space, but you may have never used Citizen Space before. Don't worry! This quick start guide will walk you through the basic steps of building an online survey in Citizen Space. 

Do also look to see if we have any upcoming training sessions (opens in new tab) that you may benefit from attending.

Look out for the yellow blocks! Each one contains links to more detailed instructions and information on a given topic in the rest of this online Knowledge Base.

Where to start

Have a plan in mind first. Before you even log in to Citizen Space, it is a good idea to have a clear sense of what you want to end up with. Citizen Space is a very powerful and flexible system, it has a lot of options and possibilities. That means you need to have a clear picture in your head (or on a piece of paper) of the survey you are trying to create before you start.

Login to the admin side

First, log in to your Citizen Space admin area.

Login form

Having trouble logging in? Check the steps here: how do I log in to Citizen Space?

After logging in, you can start to look at the following:

Creating an online survey

Add an activity

The admin area is where you can manage all the different components of your Citizen Space. For now though, we're only interested in creating an online survey - so go to 'Manage Activities'. If you're not there already, look for and select 'Manage Activities' on the top left of the page.

The all-important 'Add Activity' button is near the top left of the Manage Activities page. 

top of Manage Activities page with Add Activity link highlighted.

Setting up your survey

The 'Add Activity' screen is where you set up the bare necessities of your activity. 

The key thing for now is that we want to create an Online Survey - so make sure that option is selected under 'Activity type'. When you are happy with your title and so on, select 'Add Activity'. 

Add Activity with fields highlighted.

Activity types? Not sure what all the activity type options mean? Learn more about the different activity types.

Activity URL? Get the lowdown on editing your URLs.

Survey build

You will now be at the 'Activity Dashboard' screen. This is the page for everything to do with this particular activity.

You'll notice that you can't yet publish the survey. That is because we haven't entered enough of the details yet. So let's get started with doing that now. 

The steps for building out your online survey are listed at the top left of your Dashboard. Let's begin at the beginning: select 1. Edit Activity Details.

Dashboard with Edit Activity Details and You current cannot publish section highlighted.

Edit activity details

This section is where you enter everything about your activity - not the questions themselves, but the big picture information: What is the reason for the activity, who is it for, when is it open, and so on.

You will see that some of the fields here are marked 'Required to publish'. Make sure you've at least filled something in for these sections. You can always come back and edit or add to this later.

More detail on activity details. If you're not sure what some of these options do, have a look at steps 8-21 in this article.

When you've set up the details, hit Save at the bottom of the page. You should see a reassuring 'Changes saved' message - and hopefully a notification that 'the required sections in the Activity Details are complete'. You may see a red notification saying 'Some field still require completing in order to publish this activity'. This is fine, you can still move on with your activity build, but you will need to come back and complete the required fields before you can publish your activity.

Now you can head back to the Activity Dashboard to create your online survey questions.

Building the survey itself

Creating your survey

Back at the Dashboard, you should see that you're now able to publish this activity (because we have filled out all of the required details). But we don't want to do that yet!

We've still got to add questions. To create those now, select step 2. Online Survey.

Top of Dashboard with Online Survey editing link highlighted.

Online survey settings

This will take you to the 'Online Survey settings' page. This lets you configure some details for your survey, like how the questions are numbered, what messages people receive when they complete it, and so on. Feel free to amend some of these now if you want to; you can also come back and tweak them later. But the main thing we want to do next is start creating the survey.

Online survey settings short.

Just before we launch into that, there are three key concepts you need to understand about how Citizen Space surveys are structured: Pages, Questions and Answer Components.

Pages, Questions and Answer Components

In Citizen Space, an online survey is made up of pages. Each page can contain a number of questions. Each question can contain a number of answer components.

Structure of questions and answer components on pages.

To visualise that in practice, below is a Citizen Space survey 'front end' (the bit your public users see).

Front end screenshot annotated showing the a survey page with questions and their associated answer components.

 Adding a page

Understanding the Citizen Space online survey structure makes it easier to get to grips with how to build your survey.

If you look again at the Online Survey screen, you can see that your survey already has an 'Introduction' page. This page is included by default in every new survey -  you can change everything about this page if you want to though (including title, questions and answer components).

For now, let's just select Add a new page.

Online survey screen with new page highlighted.

On the 'Add page' screen, enter a title and any extra information you want, then select 'Add Page' at the bottom of the screen.

Add page screen in Online Survey.

Adding a question

Ok, so now we have a nice new page, but it doesn't contain any questions yet. Let's address that immediately: select Add a question in the left-hand sidebar. (This sidebar lets you quickly navigate all of your questions and pages - once we've added some!)

Survey sidebar with Add question highlighted.

On the 'Add question' screen, enter the text of your question. Don't worry about answers, extra information or anything else at this stage - just the question text. The hit the blue 'Add Question' button. 

Add question screen.

 Adding answer components

Now that we've got a question, we need some way for people to answer it! Let's add an answer component. As you can see there are a number of different components to choose from.

Don't worry at this stage if you're not sure which type of answer component in the one you want - you'll get a preview of each component when you select it from the dropdown list. 

When you have identified the right answer component for your question, select it and then the 'Add Answer Component' button.

Answer component page with component dropdown list and the add answer component button circled in red.

Fill out the various options for your chosen answer component (each component type will have a slightly different set of fields). You will be required to add a 'Reporting field heading'. This is the text that will be seen in your exports and reports, it won't be on the public survey. Once that is done, select the 'Add Component' button. Congratulations, you just added your first question!

Example of adding an answer component screen, in this case a multiple-choice radio buttons answer component.

Repeat as required

Preparing for preview 

You've now gone through all the essential steps for creating the core components of your activity. To complete your survey, simply add more pages, questions and answer components as necessary. 

As you do so, you will see them appearing in the left-hand sidebar of your survey. From here, you can quickly navigate to, edit, move around or delete any part of your survey.

Online survey screen with survey pages highlighted in sidebar survey navigation menu.

Preview, preview, preview

At any point, you can preview your work to see how the whole thing would look to a participant. The 'Preview' link is always at the top left of the page. Use this option frequently before publishing anything!

Online survey screen with Preview link highlighted.

Use Preview mode to make sure that the flow of your activity is working as you expect it to, that the questions are set up correctly, that any extra information is displaying as intended, and so on.

If at any point you spot something you would like to change, just select 'Leave preview' at the top of the screen to return to the admin interface. You can make any amendments you need to and then return to preview mode to double-check them. 

Preview mode with yellow control bar at top of page.

Learn to love Preview mode!

Preview options 

Want someone else to have a look and check your work? Learn about sharing preview links.   

 A little about survey structure

In Citizen Space, you can choose from one of three survey structures, linear (the default), non-linear, or linear with skip logic. Which structure you choose will depend on a few things, including survey length and content.

Which structure should you choose?  Linear vs. non-linear survey structure

From one quick start guide to another - Skip logic: a quick start guide


When you're absolutely sure that you're happy with your survey, you are ready to publish. Return to the Activity Dashboard, and hit the big green 'Publish' button.

Congratulations, you just published your first activity in Citizen Space! If, for any reason, you suddenly need to withdraw or amend the activity, just select the 'Retract' button on the dashboard. This will take the activity offline to enable you to edit it. Once changes have been made, simply publish again to get it back online.

But hopefully all is well, and you can now see you work on the public side of your Citizen Space.

You can send the activity link to people to start inviting participation, the URL appears at the top of the dashboard for easy access. Sit back and watch the responses come flooding in. Good job!

Top of Dashboard with Publish button highlighted.

Publishing problems?  If you're having trouble setting an activity live, check the steps here first.

Continue to build your skills with Delib Learn Delib Learn is the place to be should you wish to find out more about live and on demand webinars, and other training opportunities (opens in new tab).