Writing an effective questionnaire is quite the science, with lots of things to consider. Here are some of the tips we have picked up through preparing many questionnaires over the years here at PublicVoice.
1) Work backwards
Start by clearly setting your objectives for the survey, then work backwards to determine the data you need to gather in your survey in order to achieve your objectives.
2) Use simple language
The language and tone you use on your survey can determine whether you achieve a successful survey or not. Go for clarity when designing your questionnaire and avoid too much jargon and technical terms. Think about your respondents — know the language they speak and that will help you craft questions that they can relate to.
3) Keep the survey as short as possible
Time is precious, so it’s important to keep your questionnaire as concise as possible. Using your survey objectives as a guide it is advisable to include your most important questions and minimise the “nice to have’s”. A shorter survey will increase response rates and will motivate respondents to complete the survey.
4) Put your easiest questions first
Just as in other aspects of life, first impressions count in surveys. Helping your respondent ease into your survey by putting the questions that are easier to answer early in the survey is a good idea. Get your respondent rolling before introducing sensitive, complex or threatening questions.
5) Save sensitive or complex questions for the end
After the respondent is a few minutes into the survey and the easy questions are out of the way, you can more easily transition to questions that require thought and consideration. Respondents don’t mind giving more thought to complex questions once they are comfortable with the survey process.
6) Put your questions in a logical order
The ordering of questions is one of the most difficult tasks for any questionnaire designer. There are a lot of things to consider, including where to put your most important questions, how to group questions into relevant sections and avoiding influencing responses with your question order. PublicVoice has plenty of experience designing questionnaires, contact us and we can help you prepare an effective questionnaire.
7) Use interesting and engaging types of questions
Scales and sliders are two good examples of highly engaging question types. Not only does this help to keep your respondent interested, it also gives more useful data. Instead of asking respondents a basic yes or no question, use scales and sliders to measure both the direction and the intensity of opinions.
8) Don’t write leading questions
Leading questions demand a specific response. For example: the question “Which day of the month should we hold our company-wide monthly meeting?” leads respondents to pick a date without first determining if they even want to have the meeting.
9) Pretest your survey
Send your survey to friends and colleagues for a test run. They’ll help make sure your questions and response options are understandable and all your survey logic works.
Since 2006, PublicVoice has worked with local and central government agencies and industry bodies to develop more effective engagement and consultation strategies. We believe that the strength of our public institutions lies in their ability to effectively engage and consult with the public and their key stakeholders. Based in Lower Hutt, New Zealand – we provide engagement and consultation solutions best suited for the unique world of government.