There are a few points you need to follow to ensure you are writing a top-notch questionnaire.
We have listed nine of them below:
- Keep survey questions neutral
- Try to keep open-ended questions to a minimum
- Keep a balanced answer set
- Don't force an answer
- Avoid using the same question type repeatedly
- Pay attention to the order of your questions
- Let questions be optional
- Consider using supplementary questions
- Run a test survey
Let's try to discuss these in detail, shall we?
Keep survey questions neutral
A leading question has a hidden opinion prompt in it. This can redirect respondents towards thinking something they may not be feeling. A leading question is one which tries to prompt or encourage the answer which the surveyor wants from the respondent.
Let's consider you have asked a leading question:
We really love the Human Resources team at Zoho. Tell us why you love them as well:
Asking the question like this kind of sounds like you are trying to impose the opinion of the surveyors on the people. You can instead tweak the question to give it an unbiased tone—something along these lines:
How helpful or unhelpful did you find the human resources team at Zoho?
Try to keep open-ended questions to a minimum
An open-ended question requires the respondent to formulate a more complex answer, which can take a lot more time and effort when compared to a close-ended question, which often only needs something as simple as a Yes or No. This extra time might result in a higher dropout rate for your survey. So while writing a survey, try to keep the number of open-ended questions at a minimum.
You can also add all the open-ended questions for your survey as a separate page at the end of the survey to ensure a smooth experience for people. This way, the open-ended questions won't get in the way and make people drop off the survey without completing it.
Keep a balanced answer set
Respondents need a way to provide honest and good feedback. Otherwise, you can't really trust the responses to be credible. Here lies a very important place where bias often comes in to surveys: the answer choices.
Let's assume the following were included as options in a question asking about the helpfulness of a customer service representative:
You can see there's not an option for respondents to say that they did not find the customer service helpful. One must assume an objective tone while writing survey questions. Therefore, in this case, a better answer set would be:
This set of answer choices has different degrees nicely laid out, thus giving space for all kinds of feedback. To read more about such answer choices, go through our article on Likert scales.
Don't force an answer
There's another version of questions that only require limited or definitive (Yes or No) responses, which can really limit the range of possible answers and are generally not valid or reliable. These types of questions include "Do you always use this product?” or “Do you use all the features this product has to offer?” where the respondent can only choose from categorical Yes or No answers. Because a respondent may not use the product all the time, or may use it often but not always, forcing them into a Yes or No means that you won't really understand the full context of the response.
Ultimately, questions should be framed clearly and concisely. Cut out unneeded words and make sure that you've defined all relevant terms that might not be as familiar to participants as they are to the people conducting the survey.
Examples of clear questions include:
"How would you rate this product?" (rather than “How would you describe your rating based on feelings on this product?”)
"How often (or not often) do you use electronic devices (tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc.) in the span of a day (i.e., 24 hours)?"
The art of taking a good survey lies in a balancing act—you have to ensure that your questions are answered truthfully while providing respondents with an easy survey-taking experience.
Remember, the better the surveys are, the better the responses that will pour in. So apply these practices while creating your next survey!