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Creating a Good Survey

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

In this article we are going to talk about the types of questions you should ask in a questionnaire or survey. It is important when designing the questions to ensure that the questions are clearly written, in order to find out what you want to know and to avoid bias or non-sampling errors. With the increase in DIY type research, and companies seeking to use experience management platforms or communities as a faster approach to obtaining customer feedback, we often help customers with any questions related to research projects and how they can be made better.

There are many different types of questions you can ask your respondents. These include but are not limited to open ended questions, multi-select, and grid type questions. Open ended questions let the respondents say what they like and providing this option in closed questions allows respondents to have another option when the answers provided are not suitable for their situation. Open ended questions can require a different form of analysis as there can be many different types of answers.

The key is that you want to make it as easy as possible for the respondent, to give you the information needed. The questions you start with should be as short as possible, with clear grammar and correct spelling. If you are asking experts in a specific subject, you will want to use the correct technical language. If you are asking non-experts, you want to have a simplified language to ensure respondents understand what is being asked. It is better to ask people what they did or why they did something as close to the period in which they performed that task, as it is unrealistic to expect respondents to remember what happened in perfect detail.

In terms of language, it is good to avoid double negatives as they can create confusion in the respondent. You also want to be clear about the alternatives you provide and whether the respondent is to choose one of the alternatives or multiple alternatives. The goal is to try and avoid influencing people's responses which can lead to non-sampling error. In order to achieve this goal, you will want to be careful that the question won’t cause the respondent to get upset, by asking overly personal questions. The best way to properly plan is by creating a pilot survey which can help identify potential problems.

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