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Good questions mean good data – 10 tips for creating great survey questions

Getting your survey right really matters. Here are 10 Tips to help you along the way

Tip 1: Be absolutely clear on your study objective

If it’s a new study, ask:

  • What is the central question?
  • How will the data be used?
  • What other data can we use?

And if it’s a refresh of an existing study, also ask:

  • Which questions can be removed?
  • What questions can be consolidated?

Tip 2: Design with today’s respondent in mind

People like to…

  • share their opinion
  • receive feedback
  • be engaged with brands

But they are also

  • time poor
  • multi-taskers
  • affected with low attention spans

Tip 3: Be mobile first

It’s a mobile world, so design for it first. But don’t forget other screen sizes, people still complete on laptops and desktop computers.

  • Thumb-friendly buttons are easier for touch-screen respondents but also work well on other screen sizes

Tip 4: Have a conversation

Your survey is the only way you’ll interact with your respondents.

View the questionnaire as a conversation, creating a natural flow and easy two-way interaction.

Tip 5: Seek to be understood

Be concise and easy to understand.

Use everyday language, avoiding technical jargon and ‘marketing speak’.

Tip 6: Shorten and simplify everything

As a rule of thumb, think in 10s:

  • Survey length – 10 minutes or less
  • Question wording – 10 words or less
  • Number of response options – 10 responses or less

Tip 7: Use interactive question types

Interactive question types, such as card sort, display well in all screen sizes, are more engaging and easier to answer.

Matrix grids bigger than 5×5 promotes ‘straightlining’, increases drop-outs and doesn’t transfer well to smaller screens.

Tip 8: Use visuals…with consideration

Visuals can increase engagement and help prompt respondents’ memory.

But be careful that the visual (image, emoticon or illustration) will be interpreted by everyone in the same way.

Also, check that the memory-prompt still provides the data you seek as the visual may result in aided-awareness.

Tip 9: Offer respondents choice

Make questions non-mandatory wherever possible.

Provide options for response entry, such as answering via video or audio as well as text-entry.

Tip 10: Put yourself in their shoes

Take the survey as a respondent, answering as truthfully as possible, to fully understand their journey.

Download Best Practices

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