A good questionnaire: do’s and don’ts
Good visual impact, target on focus, good questions and good flow: designing an effective questionnaire depends on a lot of different factors and the error is just around the corner. Designing a good questionnaire means collecting higher quality survey data.
The questionnaire is the heart of your survey. Designing a good questionnaire means collecting higher quality survey data. In fact, your respondents will have a more positive reaction to a well-designed questionnaire.
In this article, you’ll find a useful checklist of do’s and don’ts to avoid the most common mistakes.
How to make a questionnaire
- Create a survey using your target vocabulary.
This will help to create empathy with your audience positively influencing response rate and encouraging respondents to answer.
- Keep it simple.
Always use a simple and clear vocabulary for your research surveys.
- Insert screening questions when needed.
Screening and demographic questions direct the survey to a specific target filtering the respondents. For example: if the survey has to be directed to per owners, a typical survey question can be “Do you own a cat or a dog?”. The survey will follow a different flow according to the answer. If the interviewer is not in target, thank him and close the interview.
- A questionnaire design for each survey.
An online questionnaire requires more attention to visual details compared to a telephone one as it is directly aimed to the respondent.
- The right questions for each methodology
When designing your questionnaire for an online survey you might prefer more interactive and visual questions like rating scale, sliders, drag and drop. For CATI and CAPI – where you have the interviewer as a barrier between the questionnaire and the respondent – you can opt for standard question types as single select, multiple choice or text questions.
- Check, check again…and check a third time.
The mistake is around the corner and it might influence the results of your research. So always check (and double-check) your work.
- Insert open-ended questions.
They’re more effective than closed-ended questions to collect details on hot topics for your area of interest.
What not to do
- Have unclear goals.
The goal is the base of the questionnaire, not vice versa. If the goal is not clear, examine your project more in detail and just after a good analysis start to create a questionnaire.
- Underestimate screening questions.
If you insert a series of questions at the beginning of the questionnaire, you’ll be able to immediately select your target and increase data quality. For example: you have a questionnaire on children favourite TV shows. In this case, screening questions will be useful to understand if the respondent has children or nephews, if they live together and if they are in the right age range. Just after this screening phase, you can start gathering information and answers.
- Overlook possible answers.
Put yourself in your respondents’ shoes and imagine how his answers can be useful for your goal. Then include useful questions in the survey.
- Revise texts superficially.
Survey revision is essential not to lose reliability: missing words and spelling errors make you unprofessional. Texts errors highly influence the outcome of your data collection.
- Use generic questionnaire templates
You may find online generic questionnaire templates ready to use. Although the temptation to use something ready-made may be strong, remember that a quality questionnaire must be produced professionally and carefully.
- No guarantees on the use of personal data.
The respondent has to feel safe to transmit and share his personal data. So promise (and keep) legal use of personal data. And if you don’t need personal data for your survey, just guarantee anonymity.
- Use too many acronyms and technical terms.
Use specific language just if you’re sure your audience is familiar with it. If the respondent doesn’t understand your questions, he may drop out or give incorrect answers.
IdSurvey: one survey platform, all your projects
To design an effective questionnaire you have to use a tool that can guarantee maximum usability.
Online survey (CAWI)
Telephone survey (CATI)
Face to face survey (CAPI)
With IdSurvey you can design your questionnaire, administer interviews and display or export results, all in one simple interface. The software doesn’t require installation, it can be used on any common browser from anywhere you are.