Constructing the “Perfect” Survey
Here are some tips to guide you through the survey construction process.
1. Ask clearly worded survey questions
Setting up questions in as simple and straight-forward a manner as possible is crucial for survey respondents to be able to understand what it is you’re asking.
A clear understanding allows them to provide an accurate response, which leads to accurate data. Avoid double-barreled questions, jargon, and double negatives.
2. Offer additional detail or explanations where needed
This is especially important if you are testing a new concept or service.
Provide survey respondents with an explanation or description that is adequate for them to be able to give an informed response, but not enough so that they drown in unnecessary details, or worse, become biased.
3. Avoid bias altogether
Your questions should be asked in a neutral, rather than loaded manner.
For example, “How fantastic was your experience on our website?” should be restructured to ask, “How would you rate your experience on our website?”
4. Provide appropriate response options
Make sure that your response set provides actionable data.
Each question should serve a purpose and be designed to maximize data quality. Topics of exploration can best be addressed using open-ended questions, while other topics may be best addressed using multiple-choice options.
Using balanced rating scales and matching response sets to question types will help ensure actionable data.
5. Keep the respondent experience in mind
Factors like survey length, type of questions, and subject matter all contribute to respondent fatigue and drop out rates.
While research concerning survey length has shown a correlation between survey length and respondent fatigue, some research suggests that respondents will remain engaged in surveys that are well constructed and topically interesting.
The rule of thumb is to limit surveys to a maximum of 15 minutes. (If conducting your survey online, aesthetics, such as images and color, can boost the respondent experience, though these things should not be the primary consideration in survey construction.)
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