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How to Write Effective Survey Questions

January 04, 2023

Did you know that the design of your survey questionnaire can have a big impact on the accuracy of your findings? Surveys can give you insight into respondents' perspectives, experiences, and much more, but only if the survey's objectives are supported by the survey's questions.

Even though creating questions for a survey may seem easy-peasy, there are a lot of things you should consider before sharing it with your clients. 

Naturally, you must take into account how your questions are phrased in relation to the data you are gathering. However, it's equally crucial to think about the survey participants who are responding to your questions and how to interact with them effectively.

If you Googled how to write effective survey questions and you ended up in this article, then you’re in the right place. This article will help you visualize the drawbacks that can affect your responses and the aces up your sleeve that will make your survey successful.

Provide Clarity

The value of your results will be limited by questions that are unclear and lack communication of your intentions. Avoid using misleading terms or response categories like "frequently" or "regularly."

Ask concise, straightforward, and direct questions. The likelihood of receiving a complete response declines as question and survey length increase. Boredom, frustration, and irritation will cause respondents to lose interest and leave the survey unanswered.

Also, make sure you provide clarity when adding multiple-choice questions and answers. The quality of the data will suffer if the responder is unsure of what is being asked of them, if answers overlap or are unclear. When possible, make sure that the answers are different and detailed so that the respondent will confidently select the best one.

Another thing worth mentioning is that if you’re using A/B testing survey questions, make it clear to the participants that they need to choose one of your options and the purpose of the questionnaire.

Start with General Questions

Starting with simpler, more fundamental questions can motivate a respondent to go further. Aim to balance basic and complicated questions wherever you can. If you begin with basic questions that make the respondents feel comfortable with your survey, you’ll usually find that they fill out all of the answers - even when there are complex questions.

How about kicking off the survey with demographic questions? You can easily ask your respondents' gender survey questions, sex survey questions, race survey questions, or age survey questions.

Don't forget to reserve and make optional delicate questions for the conclusion. If respondents encounter a challenging question right away, they will assume that all of the questions will be equally challenging, making completing the survey seem like rocket science. 

However, if they see it near the end, they might make the effort as they are aware that they are almost finished.

Organize related questions together and arrange the questions logically to establish a conversational flow. The survey's tone and voice should also be appropriate given who it is from and who it is intended for.

Focus Your Survey on Close-Ended Questions

Closed-ended questions may be your key to success if you're seeking data that is simple to collect and analyze. They produce numerical information that can be used to quantify variables. Closed-ended questions always have clear, objective answers.

Another advantage is that the information obtained from this type of question can be displayed in highly understandable ways, best in the form of graphs and charts that indicate overall percentages of responses.

Compared to closed-ended questions, open-ended questions generate more qualitative data but also demand more time and effort from respondents. Because qualitative data does not produce precise numerical results, its analysis frequently takes longer. 

You should think about limiting the usage of open-ended questions when considering how to create survey questions that rock. This can also help you get more respondents to finish your surveys because they could abandon them earlier if they feel like they have to spend too much time typing in their responses.

If you want your survey to be a success, it would be wise to  add a few open-ended questions and more types of close-ended survey questions.

Avoid Biased Survey Questions

If you’re asking how to write good survey questions, then you should make sure you eliminate biased questions - adjectives and adverbs can introduce bias into questions. 

People can respond differently depending on how a question is phrased - for instance, using the words "gain" versus "loss" in a question can be misleading. 

A different reaction can also be elicited by the use of emotive, politically charged, or sensitive language. Regardless of the topic, stay neutral and watch out for language that leans either positively or negatively.

This can skew survey results since it may lead participants to give responses that don't accurately reflect their true feelings.

Steer Clear of Double-Barreled Questions

Nobody enjoys being asked a lot of questions all at once. Double-barreled questions are two questions formulated as one - this is what they are and they can confuse participants. It is a frequent error made when designing survey questions. 

The goal of each question should be to learn something particular. By adding "and", "or" to combine two questions into one, you introduce a second question that might have a different outcome. 

Either you will confuse your respondents, who must select the correct response to one question, or your respondents will confuse you with their responses. In either case, be sure to construct straightforward survey questions that request distinct types of information as separate questions.

Abolish Jargon

Just because you understand a concept doesn't always guarantee that your intended audience does too. To be sure, a well-designed questionnaire includes quality survey questions. You should definitely avoid abbreviations, but add an explanation for every complex word.

To write effective survey questions, you need to provide a disclaimer for people who are unsure and explain ideas or acronyms that customers may not be familiar with using plain language (ie, no jargon).

A confused audience will result in frustration and low-quality responses, so don't be afraid to provide an example to ensure clarity on difficult information in your survey.

Provide Alternative Answers

Getting consumer input should be the aim of your survey. You don't want this procedure to compromise your consumers' comfort, though. Include a "I prefer not to answer" option when posing queries. 

Customers won't feel compelled to divulge private information, even though you will forfeit these results. 

Another benefit of offering this option is that you can test your survey writing skills. If respondents are consistently leaving questions blank, your survey's wording or structure is the cause. The design of your survey can then be reviewed in order to increase involvement.

What’s more, ensure you've given respondents the option to skip a question in a multiple-choice series if it doesn't relate to them or if none of their responses do. Give a choice such as "no comment," or "none of the above." A choice to select "other" and a free-form response that can provide you with extra information are also options you can supply.

Ensure Your Survey Works on All Devices

You can anticipate that respondents will utilize a range of devices to complete your survey.

More than 23% of customer surveys will be completed on a mobile device (Market Research World). Take this into account when selecting an app to use, and choose one that is responsive and has both a mobile and desktop version.

Think about where or when the respondents will be doing the survey as you explore the devices. To ensure that everyone will have a simple time using your survey, test it out on both a computer and a mobile.

Spot Issues Before Your Survey Goes Live

There is no worse feeling for a survey designer than discovering errors after it has been distributed to respondents. In some cases, you might have to start over or even abandon the survey entirely. 

Sending a new survey might be an option, but doing so may decrease respondents' trust and involvement and lead to a situation in which some customers only complete the original survey while others respond to the new one.

Share your survey in advance with coworkers, friends, and anybody else who can serve as a new set of eyes. This way, you can catch any issues beforehand. It only takes one reviewer's unbiased judgment to find errors in your survey. 

The survey can be cleared of any potential bias that might offend or turn off any customers by having outside reviewers look it over.

Survey Questions Just Got Effective

Surveys serve as humbling reflections of the businesses that send them. People might be happy to participate in your survey, interact with it, support it, and improve your brand. 

Additionally, it could be rejected by individuals who are preoccupied, bored, or suspicious. Keeping the balance between these survey question tips is challenging, but the reward is worth it.

I hope these suggestions will streamline your survey creation process and they are all useful for your business. If you liked this article, feel free to spread the word and tips with your comrades.

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