Here are 8 Tips to Help You Design an Effective Questionnaire
1. Use Clear and Familiar Language: To improve understanding and avoid confusion, steer clear of jargon, acronyms, and unfamiliar terms. Instead, opt for language that is accessible to a wide range of respondents. Remember, clarity is key to obtaining accurate responses.
2. Avoid Modifying Adjectives: Words like "usually," "often," "sometimes," "occasionally," and "regularly" can be interpreted differently by respondents. Instead of relying on modifiers, use more concrete and specific language in your questions. For example you might ask, “how many times in the past week have you…”
3. Avoid Double-Barreled Questions: Double-barreled questions combine multiple elements, potentially leading to conflicting responses. For example, “How would you rate us for our timeliness of response and accuracy”? The respondent may feel that you are very timely not particularly accurate. Ensure each question addresses a single topic.
4. Be Mindful of Emotionally Laden Words: Avoid using emotionally charged words or phrasing that implies approval or disapproval. When seeking to gauge emotional reactions, present contrasting viewpoints neutrally and ask for respondents' agreement or disagreement with each perspective.
5. Simplify Memory-Based and Estimation Questions: Avoid asking respondents to recall specific details or make difficult estimates from memory. If necessary, provide reference points or timeframes that make it easier for respondents to provide accurate answers. For example, rather than saying “how many times in the past year have you visited our website” you might shorten the time frame. For example, it may be easier to answer the question if the time frame was expressed in months or weeks.
6. Steer Clear of Hypothetical and Future Behavior Questions: It's challenging for individuals to predict their future actions or thoughts accurately. Avoid hypothetical scenarios and focus on current or past experiences when collecting data. Keep in mind, respondents have a hard time predicting what they might do or think next year, next month or even tomorrow.
7. Rethink Ranking Questions: Ranking questions that require respondents to prioritize a list of items can be challenging to complete accurately. The ranking task requires a respondent to first review an entire list and mentally juggle all items as they place them in ranked order. As well this ranking exercise doesn’t take into account that some items on the list may be judged to be equal in terms of their importance. As an alternative, present a list to respondents and ask them to select the three most important items from that list. This can be done by assigning numbers i.e. #1, #2, #3. While this is still ranking, it’s a much simplified task.
8. Provide Comprehensive Response Options: When offering a list of alternatives in closed-ended questions, ensure that all possibilities are included. Include an "other" option and provide a text box for respondents to specify their response if it doesn't fit within the given choices. Including a “don’t know / not applicable” option is also a good idea.
Conclusion: Designing a well-crafted questionnaire is essential for obtaining accurate insights from survey participants. By following these best practices, you can create clear, engaging, and effective surveys that will yield reliable data and actionable results. As always, happy to answer any questions that you may have.