How to write good survey questionsUpdated:
Surveys are a valuable tool for gathering information and opinions from a large number of people. Whether you're conducting market research, gathering feedback from customers, or trying to understand the attitudes and preferences of your target audience, surveys can provide valuable insights. However, the success of your survey depends heavily on the quality of the questions you ask. If your questions are unclear, leading, or irrelevant, you may not get the information you need, or worse, you may get inaccurate or biased information.
Writing effective survey questions requires careful consideration and planning. You need to know what information you're trying to gather, how you want to gather it, and who you want to gather it from. You also need to be mindful of the way you phrase your questions and the type of questions you ask. A well-designed survey will have clear, concise, and relevant questions that are easy for respondents to answer.
In this article, we'll explore some best practices for writing good survey questions. We'll cover the types of questions to use, how to avoid common pitfalls, and tips for making your questions effective and engaging for your respondents.
Types of questions
There are several types of survey questions you can use, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most common types of questions include:
Multiple choice questions: These questions offer a set of pre-determined response options, allowing respondents to select one or more answers. This type of question is useful for gathering basic information or data that can be easily categorized.
Open-ended questions: These questions allow respondents to provide a free-form answer in their own words. This type of question is useful for gathering in-depth information or exploring complex topics.
Rating scale questions: These questions ask respondents to rate a statement or item on a scale, such as 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. This type of question is useful for measuring opinions, attitudes, or levels of satisfaction.
Likert scale questions: These questions are a type of rating scale question that ask respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a statement.
Ranking questions: These questions ask respondents to rank a set of items in order of preference or importance. This type of question is useful for exploring preferences and priorities.
Demographic questions: These questions ask respondents to provide information about their background, such as age, gender, education level, or income.
How to Avoid Common Pitfalls:
When writing survey questions, it's important to avoid common pitfalls that can skew the results or make your questions ineffective. Some of the most common pitfalls to watch out for include:
Leading questions: Leading questions are questions that suggest a particular answer or bias the respondent towards a particular answer. For example, “Do you think our company should focus more on profits or on social responsibility?” is a leading question. Avoid leading questions in order to get the most accurate data possible.
Double-barreled questions: Double-barreled questions are questions that ask about two or more topics in one question. For example, “Do you like our company’s products and services?” This type of question can be confusing for respondents and may lead to inaccurate data.
Overly complex questions: Avoid using jargon or overly complex language in your questions. Make sure each question is easy to understand and straightforward.
Personal information: Avoid asking for personal information that is not necessary to the survey. This includes sensitive information such as social security numbers, financial information, and private health information.
Tips for Making Your Questions Effective and Engaging:
In order to make your questions effective and engaging for your respondents, consider the following tips:
Know your purpose: Before writing any questions, it’s important to understand why you are conducting the survey. What information are you hoping to gather? Knowing the purpose of the survey will guide you in creating questions that are relevant and useful.
Keep questions clear and concise: Avoid using jargon or overly complex language. Make sure each question is easy to understand and straightforward.
Avoid leading questions: Leading questions are those that suggest a particular answer or bias the respondent towards a particular answer. For example, “Do you think our company should focus more on profits or on social responsibility?” is a leading question. Avoid leading questions in order to get the most accurate data possible.
Use appropriate question types: Choose the type of question that best suits the information you are trying to gather.
Be specific: When asking questions, be as specific as possible. For example, instead of asking “Are you happy with our company?”, ask “On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with our company’s products/services?”.
Make questions relevant: Make sure each question is relevant to the survey and the information you are trying to gather. Avoid including questions that are not necessary or relevant to the survey’s purpose.
Pilot test your questions: Before distributing the survey, test it out on a small group of people to see if the questions are clear and elicit the information you are looking for. This can also help you identify any potential issues or biases in your questions.
In conclusion, writing effective survey questions is crucial to getting the information you need to make informed decisions. By using the right type of question, avoiding common pitfalls, and making questions clear, concise, and relevant, you can ensure that your surveys get results. Whether you're conducting market research, gathering feedback from customers, or exploring the attitudes and preferences of your target audience, a well-designed survey can provide valuable insights. However, it's important to remember that the success of your survey ultimately depends on the quality of the questions you ask. With careful planning, consideration, and attention to detail, you can create surveys that get results and provide valuable insights into the needs, opinions, and preferences of your target audience.
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