12 Tips for writing an effective questionnaire

What some people may not realize is that many times when you come across issues with your survey data, it can link back to the questionnaire itself. Perhaps you drafted leading questions, mistakenly allowed unqualified respondents into your survey, or fatigued your respondents with too many unnecessary questions or answer options.

Whatever the cause, we’ve compiled a list of tips to keep in mind when drafting a questionnaire to avoid the most common mistakes people make:

1. Keep the results you’re looking for in mind. Don’t mix in unnecessary questions or choices that could end up clouding your data.

2. Keep your target audience in mind. Don’t ask questions that wouldn’t apply to the respondents taking your survey.

3. Be clear and consistent in the way you compose your questions. Write questions that all respondents will interpret the same way. The respondent shouldn’t have to trigger an error message to know how they’re supposed to effectively answer the question.

4. Stay organized. Don’t jump from one topic to another, then back to the first topic again. This could result in confusion for your respondents and potentially bad data.

5. Avoid fatiguing your respondents. Only ask the questions you need to and a sufficient amount of answer options.

6. Pay mind to the question types you use. Use formats that are most conducive to the question you’re asking.

7. Avoid asking yes and no questions. Don’t lead the respondents into untruthfully answering their way into qualifying for your survey.

8. Avoid leading questions. These can lead to bias responses from your respondents.

9. Balance your scales. Make sure you have a neutral point to your scale, unless otherwise necessary.

10. Randomize or alphabetize answers when necessary. Randomization will avoid magnetism of a point of your answer list and therefore bias in your data. On the other hand, alphabetizing can be used when listing answer choices like brands.

11. Use filter logic. This will prohibit respondents from answers unnecessary questions that don’t necessarily apply to them, based on how they’ve answered up until that point.

12. Carefully place screening questions. Majority of the time, the appropriate place for these screening questions is at the beginning of the survey.

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