Matrix questions: 4 rules (+1) to make them effective

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Research world

Matrix questions are commonly used in market research especially on web questionnaires. Why are these question types so popular? Because they’re easy to implement and data collection is fast and effective.

Despite that, inappropriate use can vanish all advantages diminishing survey performance.

How can you take advantage of matrix questions? Follow our 4 rules (+1) to effectively use them! Let’s revise some theory first!

What is a matrix question?

“Matrix questions are a set of questions displayed as a grid where for each question (row) you have the same series of answers (columns)”

Why do market researchers love matrix questions so much? Because on one side they’re easy and fast to insert in the questionnaire and on the other they’re easy to understand and answer.

4 basic notions on matrix questions

These 4 rules will allow you to immediately build effective matrix questions:

  1. Answers: short and direct text. When you create a matrix question, optional answers (especially in matrix) have to be immediately clear to the respondent. Avoid conjunctions like “or” or “/” in your answers.
  2. How many answers? Less than 5. Most effective matrix questions don’t have more than 5 answers (5 columns).
  3. How many questions? Ideally less than 5. A matrix with many rows may be discouraging for the respondent. We suggest not more than 5 questions presented to the respondent.
  4. Take advantage of mobile-friendly. Mobile interviews are increasing and matrix can be your friend for this kind of administration. Be sure you use software that automatically optimizes your questionnaires on your smartphone.

Extra tip: do a mobile check-up on your survey!

More than 90% of people use their smartphones daily (source: Deloitte). As a result, it becomes crucial to make sure that questions are well viewable from any device.

We can define a grid question as “mobile-friendly” when it does not force the user to scroll horizontally.

Consequently, the number and length of answers (columns) will be crucial. Instead, there will be more tolerance for questions since vertical scrolling is more natural (rows). What if our grid is complex and we can’t edit it? By default, if you are accessing the interview from a smartphone, IdSurvey breaks down the grid questions into multiple simple questions to make it clearer and easier to fill out from small screen devices.

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