Tips for Creating the Best Survey

  • 7 min read

Surveys can provide your business with the insights it needs to make improvements and grow. But when you don’t create surveys to the best of their abilities, you may lose out on valuable insight. There’s science behind creating effective surveys that deliver the answers and results you need. With the following tips, your survey can provide a better experience for respondents and more useful results for you to analyze.

Define Your Survey Objective

One of the first steps you should take before creating your survey is to define your survey’s objective, or its ultimate purpose. Can survey insights help you to make a decision? For example, do you need to know what your customers think about your new product, so you know whether or not you should produce more? Or can it help you answer a valuable question, such as whether upper management is doing a good job? Once you define your survey objective, you can decide what types of questions you need to ask to get your answer.

Ask Important Questions First

When filling out a survey, respondents pay the most attention at the beginning. It’s essential to ask the most important questions first while you have their complete focus. If you save these big questions for the end, participants may speed through the survey because they know they’re almost finished. After creating your survey objective, determine your primary questions and bump them to the top of your list.

Make Every Question Count

This survey is your opportunity to gather the insight you need, so don’t waste it by asking the wrong questions. If your objective is to decide whether you should discontinue a product line because it’s unfavorable, don’t ask questions about respondents’ favorite food. Eliminate any unnecessary questions from your survey outline so that your respondents have a better experience and don’t exit the survey early. You should want to know the answer to every question in your survey. If the answer doesn’t provide you with value, leave it off.

Keep Your Survey Short and Simple

One of the biggest reasons respondents leave a survey before finishing is because it takes too long. There’s no reason why you should send a survey that takes longer than 10 minutes to complete, unless you’re paying respondents to take it. Time is valuable, and if you value your audience, you won’t waste their time with a lengthy survey. You might also risk respondents’ answering lengthy surveys dishonestly, because they’re in a hurry to finish and stop reading the questions and answers.

For best results, keep your survey short and to the point. You can also give participants an estimated time for completion before they start their survey, so they know if they can commit to that time frame or not. You can automatically include this feature in your survey if you have a SurveyPlanet Pro account.

Group Same Topic Questions Together

If there’s a certain topic you have multiple questions about, make sure to group these survey questions together. This creates a better flow to enhance the respondents’ experience. If you were to ask similar questions randomly dispersed throughout your survey, it might frustrate participants. By grouping same-topic questions, respondents can answer faster because the topic is already fresh in their minds.

Include Sensitive Questions at the End

If you want to collect personal or sensitive information like income level, age or education, don’t ask these questions at the beginning. When a participant first opens your survey, they don’t want to give you their personal information right away. Think of your survey as a first date. You need to converse and get to know one another before it’s appropriate to ask for a phone number. Save your personal questions like age, income level and education level for the end of your survey, when respondents feel more open to sharing.

Reassure Respondents of Security and/or Anonymity

With data breaches happening regularly, it’s not unusual for people to feel paranoid or uneasy about giving out their information online. That’s why it’s important to let your respondents know that their data and information are completely secure. If you’re collecting surveys anonymously, you should also reassure them of their anonymity so they answer each question truthfully.

Use an Aesthetically Pleasing Design

In addition to creating good questions, your survey design also matters. It’s important to give your audience a survey that looks pleasing and enhances their experience. Avoid using fonts or colors that make survey instructions and questions difficult to read.

The good news is that SurveyPlanet has several pre-made design templates ready for you to use—and they all look amazing! If you prefer to keep your survey on-brand with your company, you can upgrade to a Pro account to create your own custom survey design. Whatever you decide, ask a few people for their opinion about your design and whether or not it looks great before you send out the survey.

Avoid Biased and Leading Questions

Make sure to exclude any survey questions that are biased or leading. For example, don’t write “Bob’s Bakery on 4th Ave is the best bakery in the city. In your opinion, how amazing is their cake?” This question is leading and loaded with bias. Instead ask, “Do you enjoy Bob’s Bakery’s cake?” Your question now doesn’t assume the participant loves cake or that bakery. To avoid bias or leading questions in your survey, scan your questions for adjectives and whether any of them show bias.

Use Simple Language

Don’t interject industry jargon into your survey, because you can’t assume that everyone knows what it means. Keep your survey language simple and easy to understand. By keeping survey questions at a 7th-grade reading level, you won’t have to worry about respondents not understanding what you are asking.

Avoid Using Grids

If you’re thinking of using a grid in your survey, think again. Although a grid sounds like an easy way to collect answers for a number of subjects at one time, they’re not the easiest to read. In addition, they aren’t always mobile-friendly. Swap out your grid and ask each question individually. It might seem more tedious, but it will ultimately give your participants a better experience.

Rephrase Yes/No Questions

Asking questions with yes/no answers doesn’t give you much insight to work with. Instead, rephrase the question so you can offer a range of answers, in case a participant’s opinion isn’t clearly a yes or no. An easy way to rephrase your question is by starting it with “How often,” “How likely” or “How much.” This will provide you with more insight and allow your respondents to answer more honestly.

Use Question Branching

One reason that people become frustrated surveys is when they ask questions that don’t apply. You can avoid this with question branching. Question branching is when you branch a question into other questions based on how a respondent answered the initial question.

For example, if you want to learn more about what your customers think about a certain product, you could first ask whether or not they like the product. If they answer that they like it, you can use question branching to ask more specific questions about why they like it, or vice versa if they dislike it. Question branching allows you to gain more insight and prevents people from answering questions they don’t have real answers to. Take advantage of question branching with a SurveyPlanet Pro account.

Use Imagery

Using imagery throughout your survey can give respondents a better survey experience. Sometimes it’s easier to show a question than it is to tell a question. This is especially true if you want to display a chart, or picture of a product and then ask a question about it. Dispersing images throughout your survey questions and using them as possible answers can make your survey more enjoyable, and help participants to answer questions better.

Test Your Survey

Our last tip for creating the best survey is to test it. Send the survey to a few colleagues and test it yourself before you send it off to your list. This will help you gain a sense of whether or not your survey flows well, and whether there is any room for improvement.If you’re ready to start creating your best survey yet, browse our example surveys and sign up for an account with SurveyPlanet. Our survey platform offers unlimited possibilities for creativity and expression. Get started today!

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