10 Tips to consider when designing a survey

Efficiently designing a survey is the certain prerequisite for obtaining good quality responses. Nowadays online survey types are predominant as tools for assessing the opinions of vast numbers of respondents. There are key principles to be observed in the design of a successful online survey, as there are pitfalls which can ruin the success of surveys.

1. Designing a survey to be launched online should start with the identification of the objectives to be reached. Making a list of the information sought to be obtained from respondents is helpful, as it can serve as the plan for the designing of an online survey.

2. After the questions have been drawn up, going through them and comparing them with the objectives posed is essential, to determine whether each question provides part of the information sought. If there are questions that do not serve that purpose, they should be left out.

3. The types of questions to be used in an online survey are an important part of the design process. The two types of questions used are structured, or fixed response, questions and non structured, or open, questions. Understanding and considering when and in what manner to use these two types of questions is the next step of the designing process.

4. When designing a survey to be offered to online visitors, questions aimed at obtaining respondents’ opinion should be of the rating type, rather than ranking ones. The reason is that with ranking, respondents concentrate their efforts to comparing, not to giving their opinion.

5. The design of a successful online survey includes the clear statement of the survey intentions, preferably at the beginning of the survey, containing an explanation of the purpose of collecting the specific information.

6. Including instructions is part of the design which can be very helpful to numerous respondents. The instructions on the survey as a whole can be included in the beginning, after the statement of the purpose, and if needed, additional instructions can be offered for specific questions in the online survey.

7. The design process should include drawing up questions which are unbiased. Sometimes the manner of phrasing a question reflects the author’s underlying opinion. Checking for such leading questions and editing them as appropriate is essential.

8. An important part of the design considerations should be the observance of respondents’ anonymity. When for research purposes some items of personal information, such as age, income, etc. should be obtained, questions asking for such data should be included at the end of the survey.

9. When designing a survey, the authors should be certain the questions designed can be answered by the respondents targeted. The most common mistake in this respect is designing questions the answers to which people are not very likely to remember.

10. Finally, the questions related to subsets of topics should be organised together, as it is easier for respondents doing an online survey to answer series of questions grouped around common topics.

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