Creating Survey Questions: Three Mistakes You Should Not Make.

  • 25/06/2015

Surveys can be very useful when making inquiry. Information that you cannot get from books, can now be easily collected by means of an (online) questionnaire. But mistakes are often made when creating such surveys. In this article we will discuss the three most common mistakes made when creating surveys.

1. Forgotten Analysis?

The whole reason of carrying out a survey is to be able to use the results. It is therefore essential that when creating a questionnaire, you should keep the analysis in mind. What do you wish to find out through your survey? What information do you need from your respondents? In most cases, a lot of surveys contain questions that are often too long or irrelevant to your research purpose. In cases like this, your questionnaire will only yield unusable results.

When you know exactly what you want and what questions you can use to get it, you can start thinking about analyses. For example, should there be a distinction in gender or age group? Set your questions so that your respondents can directly know to what category they fall. Avoid open questions where the respondent will have to fill his/her year of birth. By sorting out all data, you will save the respondent a lot of time and hassle. Remember that a successful survey starts by asking the right questions. In other words, it is about the quality of the questions and not quantity.

2. Wrong question

Besides careless mistakes like spelling errors, it also happens a lot that the questions are formulated incorrectly. This way the questions may be ambiguous and it might be unclear to a respondent what the question actually mean. For example, you might ask a respondent to fill in a satisfaction scale ranging from 1 to 5. For such a demand, it is necessary to indicate if 1 is ‘very satisfied’ and 5 is ‘unhappy’ or vice versa. Also take note that a questions may contain multiple answers. If that is the case, there must be an option in the question type to select several answers. This is often done through check boxes instead of radio buttons.

3. Send without testing

After working hard to put the questionnaire together, it is logical that you want to quickly send the survey as fast as possible and collect data. Unfortunately it has happened a lot that the survey has been published without first testing it. The only way to know if your question is as clear as you had in mind is by testing it.

Always send a few test invites to friends or colleagues to check whether the survey does not end up in the spam box. Also test the questions among friends and acquaintances who belong to the target group. They can provide valuable feedback that will lead the survey to greater success.

Finally, think carefully about the timing when sending the questionnaire. On a Friday night no one checks their  mail, as well as on weekends. So carefully think of when you want the respondent to receive the questionnaire in his/her mailbox.

Like to know how your questionnaire could look like? Check out the tour of our survey tool or contact us for more information.


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