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    Recognising the Difference Between Rating and Ranking Questions

    The difference between ranking and rating questions in online surveys

    Many people struggle to understand the distinct difference between rating questions and ranking questions in online surveys, yet it is vital that you know how to tell them apart in order to conduct proper research. In this blog post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each question and the best use of them in your online surveys…

    Rating vs Ranking Questions

    • Rating questions look at how respondents feel about individual items, measuring positive or negative responses to a question or statement. For instance, they will rate a specific area of service on a Likert rating scale.


    Rating Questions in Online Surveys Rating Questions in Online Surveys


    • Ranking questions compare individual elements to each other. This question type allows respondents to rank items, in order of preference, by selecting a numeric value for each answer choice.


    Ranking Questions in online surveys Ranking Questions in Online Surveys



    Pros and Cons of Ranking Questions

    Ranking questions are a useful way to get respondents to tell you their choice between preferred items. Each item in ranking questions will have a completely unique value. This type of question is a good option when you want to rank things in order of preference.

    Pro and cons of ranking questions in online surveys

    However, people may be forced to make one item worse or better than another, when they actually find them equal. Also, the data here is not statistical, meaning you can’t use it to calculate averages.

    Pros and Cons of Rating Questions

    Rating questions¸ on the other hand, are often much easier to understand by individual people and they prefer completing these. These types of survey questions can provide insight into what customers value about your products and services or what your employees like or dislike at work. Also, it allows for each individual parts to have the same value if that is how people feel about them.

    However, people often have “tactics” when it comes to completing these types of questions. Very few, for instance, will ever assign the highest or lowest score. Also, if they are in a hurry or lose interest in the questionnaire, they may just assign an average score to each of the items without actually looking at them.

    Guide to Setting up Rating and Ranking Questions

    1. On the design page of the survey you are creating, click ‘Add Question’.

    Question Design


    2. On the next page, enter the question text and select the type of question you wish to use from the Question Type drop-down menu. In this guide, we will use Ranking. Select Enable Editor if you would like to use the text editor to format your question text.

    3. If you are not sure which type of question to use, then please refer to our help guide; 'How do I know which question type to use?'.

    4. The page will extend once the question type has been selected, allowing you to add the answer choices and apply any custom settings. Enter your answers in the Answer Choices box, or alternatively, you can select your answers from the Pre-made menu.

    5. Below the answer choices section you will be able to add extra question settings, such as a comments field, answer validation and more.


    Online Question Design Options


    When you have finished creating the question, click ‘Add Question’.

    The best types of online questionnaires use both ranking questions and rating questions. This way, people have to compare individual items, as well as reviewing each individual part. Furthermore, by designing your survey in this way, the online questionnaire tends to stay more interesting, meaning people don’t lose interest in the survey and simply answer without even thinking about their answers.

    Please contact our support team if you would like any more information or visit our page on 10 Tips For Creating An Effective Online Survey.

    Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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    About Author

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    Phil Cleave

    Phil is part of the Content team at SmartSurvey and has over 20 years experience in the PR and Comms sector writing for Tech Companies.

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