Surveys are an invaluable tool in the world of market research, offering a direct line to the thoughts and opinions of your target audience..

FN Research questionnaire designMost people think they can design a questionnaire, but often it is poorly constructed, which leads to lacklustre response rates, skewed data, and unreliable insights.

Therefore if possible, it is always best to seek the advice of a professional to help create the most insightful, time efficient, easy to navigate questionnaire to fit your needs.

But occasionally it may be necessary to design your own questionnaire.

So here are some practical tips to help you create a survey questionnaire that delivers the best responses and actionable insights.

Define Your Objectives: Laying the Foundation

Setting the stage for your survey is crucial. Before you even think about the actual questions, you need to have a crystal-clear understanding of your objectives. You need to think about the following 4 main areas:-

  • What do you hope to achieve with this survey?
  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What specific questions are you seeking answers to?
  • How will you use this data?

Spend time defining these goals, as precision ensures that your survey remains focused and doesn’t veer off into irrelevant territory (nice to know rather than need to know questions) .

A well-structured survey comprises various question types to cater to different types of information you’re seeking.

  • Open-ended questions give respondents the freedom to express themselves, offering rich qualitative insights (i.e. answering the question why?).
  • Closed-ended questions are easier to analyse quantitatively.
  • Multiple-choice questions and rating scales provide a structured way to gather data on specific preferences.

Spend some time choosing your question types wisely, ensuring they align with your research objectives and audience characteristics.

Crafting Clear and Concise Questions: The Power of Language

FN Research questionnaire designYour survey’s questions must be easy for respondents to understand. Avoid industry jargon, acronyms, and technical language that might alienate respondents. Use simple, straightforward wording, and be specific to prevent ambiguity or confusion.

We often see double-barrelled questions that combine two concepts e.g. ‘Do you think the …… should be local and easy to find?’, negative phrasing, or complex sentence structures that can confuse respondents.

Clear language is more likely to give accurate responses and enhance the validity of your data.

Sequencing and Grouping: A Logical Flow

The arrangement of questions within your survey matters more than you might think!. An sensible flow guides respondents smoothly through the questionnaire, helps with response rates and quality of the final data set.

Start with a concise introduction, outlining the survey’s purpose, expected duration, and data confidentiality.

You may also want to implement screening questions to identify suitable participants and warm-up questions to engage respondents right from the start. Transition questions aid the flow between different topics or question types, while skip logic directs respondents based on their previous answers.

It is often good practice to finish the survey with cool-down questions that invite final thoughts and suggestions and end the survey on a positive note.  e.g. ‘Are there any other improvements suggestions you would like to make?’

Test and Revise: Fine-Tuning for Excellence

FN Research questionnaire designFinally, never underestimate the value of testing and refining your survey before launching the survey!.

Always try to pilot test to identify potential flaws and improvements. Ask a small sample of your target audience to complete the survey and give feedback on its clarity and usability.  And of course if possible make necessary revisions and double-check for technical glitches.

Creating a survey questionnaire that gives the best responses is not easy. It demands attention to detail, empathy for your audience, and a commitment to excellence.

But by following these few tips, you’re well on your way to constructing a survey that not only attracts high response rates but also generates actionable data that can drive your market research strategies forward.

And always, if you decide you need professional input please get in touch.