Designing questionnaires for consumer insights or customer feedback can be intimidating. It requires many considerations, as it is key to the success of any quantitative research.
If you’re just getting started with drafting your own questionnaires, looking for inspiration, or trying to make improvements, here are the four steps we recommend you take to set your research up for success.
The best way to start the questionnaire development process is to brainstorm. Think about the key topics and high-level categories that you want to cover in your questionnaire. Start broad and then dive into the specific questions you would like to ask and gather information about, for example: the demographics, screening questions, core questions for your research, and anything else you would need for analysis.
It may be helpful to think of the six w’s, six basic questions for information gathering (who, what, where, when, why and how). These can help you start pulling your ideas together and get the questionnaire draft going.
2. Fill Out the Details
Once you’ve brainstormed your ideas and know what information you want to get out of the survey, move towards the next step of filling out all of the details of your questionnaire: question text, response options, and programming instructions.
We recommend designing the survey in a way that's concise, easily understood, and neutral (so you don’t bias participants).
Outlining programming instructions (like assigning labels and question types) are just as important as questions themselves. They determine how your survey will be built and eliminates assumptions and interpretations.
Now that you’ve gotten your questions and specifications figured out, you can add some structural organization into your questionnaire, if you haven’t already.
We recommend structuring your document with project specifications like desired screening criteria and quotas at the top of the document, then survey intro and screening questions to get to your target audience, followed by core research questions for your target audience.
4. Double Check
The final step in designing your survey is to review everything holistically. You may even want to take a break and come back to the questionnaire for a final read through with a fresh set of eyes, double checking survey quality controls.
As you review, put yourself in the respondent's shoes and think about how they will understand the survey as they take it. Make sure your survey content is clear to anyone who takes it, and anyone who meets the screening criteria can answer your questions.
A well-designed survey is an investment in the success of the research. It is well-worth making the effort upfront as opposed to making sense of data when the research is done (when it may be too late). A well-crafted survey also keeps respondents engaged and ultimately leads to more accurate and trustworthy data.
A lot of thought goes into crafting a questionnaire. It may need to be an iterative process: from getting at critical questions, to following best practices, to providing a smooth experience for respondents, to considerations for data quality. All together, these actions increase respondent engagement, reduces bias, and encourage honesty.
Learn more about writing a survey in our Online Survey Training Module: How to Create a Questionnaire. There you’ll learn more about the four steps for questionnaire success and additional considerations for creating a survey. Find our full library of video modules here.
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