• The power of wording
  • Question format: Sculpting thoughts
  • The trap of leading questions
  • The dilemma of double-barreled questions
  • The impact of question order

The power of wording

The impact of words is heavy with surveys. How you ask a question can totally change the answer you get. Let’s say you’re doing a customer feedback survey for a business. If you ask, “Are you dissatisfied with our software’s complex user interface?” you’re leading them to think the user interface is a problem. However, if you ask, “How user-friendly do you find our software’s interface?” you’re likely to get an answer without any bias.

When you’re crafting a survey, keep the questions clear, neutral, and to the point. You’re not trying to push people to answer in a certain way; you want to know what they really think. In that way, the responses you get are genuinely useful and can actually make things better.

Question format: Sculpting thoughts

Question formats determine the kind of answers you get. The right format helps you gather useful information without overwhelming or restricting your respondents. Before you ask, think about what you need to know. If it’s a specific answer, choose multiple choice questions or rating scales—they’re great for quick, easy-to-analyze responses. For detailed insights, open-ended questions are your friends, but use them cautiously to avoid survey fatigue.

Let’s say you want to find out your most valued features. Create a multiple-choice list of common features and add an “Other” option with a text box. This gives you structured data and also room for unique answers.

The trap of leading questions

Leading questions nudge respondents towards a particular answer. They are a big no-no because they can skew your results. Ask questions that don’t hint at what you think the answer should be.

For instance, if you ask, “Don’t you think our new feature greatly improves efficiency?” you’re leading them to agree. Instead, ask, “How has the new feature impacted your efficiency?” In this way, you get unbiased feedback. Your survey’s goal is to capture real opinions, not confirm your own assumptions.

The dilemma of double-barreled questions

Asking about two things at once can confuse your respondents, and this is what double barreled questions do. They make it hard for respondents to answer accurately. It becomes difficult for you to interpret their responses.

Here’s an example: If you ask, “How satisfied are you with our software’s speed and usability?” you’re combining two different aspects into one question. A user might love the speed but not the usability. This kind of format forces them to give a skewed response to a multi-faceted question.

The better approach is to split it: “How satisfied are you with our software’s speed?” and “How satisfied are you with our software’s usability?” In this way, you get clear feedback on each aspect.

The impact of question order

The order in which you place your questions in a survey impacts the respondent’s journey. It is like a customized path.

If an employee satisfaction survey begins with, “How satisfied are you with the recent changes in management?” it might stir feelings about management, affecting responses to the later questions.

A more effective strategy would be to start with a general question such as, “How do you feel about your overall work environment?” This sets a more unbiased stage. Gradually, the survey can cover more targeted areas, like management, work-life balance, or job roles.

By ordering questions from broad to specific, you ensure that initial questions don’t affect responses to later ones. This helps you collect balanced feedback.

Keep in mind that the actual beauty of survey design lies not only in the questions you ask, but in how you ask them. This is the key to gathering important, useful insights from your respondents.

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