Surveys Best Practices
Creating an online survey
latest internet online survey software makes it easy to construct an
questionnaire and chart the responses. But this process is not really
as simple as it seems. To get the most useful results, you need to
become familiar with online survey best practices.
Do You Need
Know About Online Surveys
The first step in creating
survey is to
you want to know. What is the main thing you want to discover? Start by
brainstorming everything you hope to learn from the online survey. Then
prioritize the topics you have listed. This process will help you
decide how much attention to devote to each item in your online
In deciding what you want to
to think about how you are going to use the data you collect. There is
not much point in gathering information if you don’t plan to
anything with it. What actions are you prepared to take to address the
responses you receive? Will you create new procedures, start a new
training program, and change your marketing plans? To make the most of
an online survey, you need to ask about subjects you can do something
In some rare cases, you
that the best
what you learn from your online survey is to do nothing at all. For
example, if you learned that all your employees were completely
satisfied with their current health care benefits, you would probably
decide to leave well enough alone. Unfortunately, such situations are
rare. If you thought everyone was happy with the way things are, you
probably wouldn’t have bothered to conduct a survey in the
Brief is Better
People have a limited
questionnaire should take no more than five minutes to complete. In a
typical online survey, people answer an average of five multiple-choice
questions a minute. This means that you should probably limit your
survey to no more than twenty-five questions. (In building online
surveys, remember that one open-ended question equals three
People are more likely to
are expecting some kind of reward for making it all the way to the end.
For example, people might be willing to answer a long list of questions
about their health if they expect to be told at the end how long they
are likely to live.
To determine how long it
will take to
try it out on five or six people. Don’t tell them they are
timed. If you do, they might run through the questions faster than they
normally would. If some people take much longer than others, ask them
if there were any questions they didn’t understand.
To get the most out of your
question count. Don’t be satisfied with your first draft.
you have written a question, try asking the same thing in three or four
different ways. This exercise forces you to decide if your first
attempt is really the best way to get at the information you want to
Once you have written a few
you can either pick one or combine parts of several to create the best
Your questions should be
and easy to
unusual vocabulary or jargon that some people might not understand.
Keep sentences short and simple.
Beware of Bias
If you really want to know
careful not to steer them in a particular direction with your
questions. The most obvious example of biased questionnaires is the
"push polls" used in some political campaigns. A push poll question
might ask, "Do you think that Candidate X’s plan to raise
will place an unfair burden on the middle class?"
The intent here is not to
the candidate’s tax plans. The intent is to suggest that the
candidate’s plans are unfair.
Push polls are obviously
online questionnaire without you noticing it. Sometimes "loaded" words
can have a strong influence on how people respond to a question. For
example, if you ask people whether the check-in procedures at your
hotel "should be improved," they are likely to say yes. But wording the
question this way doesn’t really tell you how happy or
people are with the current procedures. Instead, you might use a rating
question, such as, "Please rate the convenience of our check-in
procedures." Possible responses could range from (1) "Inconvenient" to
(5) "Very Convenient."
Sometimes questions are so
useful. For example, consider the question, "Do you like salmon?" What
does this mean? Do you like the taste of salmon? Do you like the health
properties of salmon? Do you like the price of salmon compared to the
price of other fish? Do you like salmon more or less than other fish?
The question is so general that the responses you get will not really
tell you much.
Also be careful to avoid
"Which of these vehicles do you consider to be the safest and most
economical?" Here you are really asking two questions. People might
consider a particular vehicle safe but not economical, and vice versa.
In building an online
yourself to a
particular type of question. The types of questions you choose will
depend on the subject and the kind of information you want to collect.
are common in
They can be answered quickly and they make it easy to collect and
compare data. But sometimes you don’t want to limit responses
four or five choices. In those cases, you might ask an open-ended
question, such as, "How can we make visitors to our facility feel more
Sometimes multiple choice
choose multiple answers. For example, "Which of the following products
are you likely to buy in the next year?" These questions can give you
more useful data for marketing purposes because they are a more
accurate reflection of actual consumer behavior.
You might also try using
following five vehicles in terms of overall value." These questions can
give you a useful picture of how a product or service matches up with
Rating questions typically
use a tool
create a picture of how people feel about something. For example, a
Likert Scale question might ask, "How important do you think it is to
have a fingerprint security reader on your laptop?" Possible responses
might range from (1) "Not Important at All" to (7) "Very Important."
Matrix questions combine two
matrix question might ask people to rate five different online travel
services on a scale from (1) "Inconvenient" to (5) "Very Convenient."
Basically, the type of
what you want to know.
Question branching allows
you to build
survey. Here’s how it works. A question might ask,
own your home?” A “yes” response will
take the person
to a new set of questions about home ownership. A
response will take the person to a new set of questions about renting a
house or an apartment.
don’t see questions that are not relevant to them.
Online surveys offer a
over the phone, by mail, or in person. They can include a larger sample
size at a reasonable price. They make it easier to collect, analyze and
present data. And they allow you to use video and images in a way that
is just not practical in other types of surveys.
In recent years internet
sophisticated. It can help determine proper sample size and evaluate
the statistical significance of responses. It can also make it easy to
write new questions or modify existing questions from a library of
The best online survey
it easy to
attractive, user-friendly formats. You don’t need a
web design or graphic arts to create a polished, professional
What Kind of
response you get to your survey depends mainly on the type of survey
you are doing and your target audience. For example, if you are doing a
customer satisfaction survey, you are likely to get more responses from
people at both ends of the satisfaction spectrum – people who
very satisfied and people who are very dissatisfied.
In surveys aimed at a broad
will probably mirror the profile of internet users in general. In broad
terms, internet users are younger, somewhat more affluent, and more
tech savvy than the average adult. They are about evenly divided
between men and women. In terms of residence, approximately 54% of
internet users are suburban, 30% are urban and 16% are rural.
If you are interested in
include in your survey a few simple questions about age, gender,
Internet survey software
makes it easy
The best packages offer a broad range of statistical analysis tools
that are simple and easy to use. Advanced users can customize the
analysis by modifying the default options to suit their needs. Here are
some of the analysis tools that are currently available.
simply tells you how many people chose particular responses to a
multiple choice question.
allows you to see
how responses to one question affect another. For example, you could
see how what percentage of people who responded “college
graduate” also responded "employed at the same job for more
you compare the
average response for different categories of people. For example, you
could compare the average annual income range for men and women, or for
high school graduates and college graduates.
Means is a more
sophisticated measurement that allows you to see the relationship among
three variables. For example, you could see how highly SAFETY is rated
by WOMEN who own a FORD.
you to adjust results to reflect the true population. For example,
suppose that 25% of respondents say that they own more than one
computer, but you know that the average age of the respondents is 27.
Using Census data, post-stratification can give more weight to the
responses of older people, so that your survey will be a more accurate
reflection of the true population.
groups of customers who share similar needs and who demonstrate similar
buyer behavior. This allows marketers to target different campaigns to
different groups of customers based on their survey responses.
business to see how large a gap there is between what it is currently
offering and what its customers want. For example, a survey might ask
customers of an auto repair chain to rate four different things:
service, quality, value, and reliability. Survey results show that
"service" is consistently rated lower than the other factors, so this
is the area that offers the greatest opportunity for improvement.
The results you obtain with
tables, charts or graphs. These displays can be customized to present
data in a way that will be most meaningful for everyone who needs to
Survey for Every
Online surveys are used
research. The online approach works particularly well for marketing
surveys because it allows a business to reach a large number of
respondents easily and economically. Market research software also
makes it easy to analyze responses and adjust marketing plans
Online questionnaires have
customer satisfaction surveys, advertisement effectiveness surveys, and
product evaluation surveys. These tools give businesses a wealth of
information about who their customers are, what they want, and how they
decide what to buy.
Businesses also use online
learn how their employees feel about everything from pay grades to
To get the most out of paid
follow the best
practices outlined here.
giving some careful thought to what
to learn from your survey.
survey brief; make every question
with different kinds of questions.
powerful analysis tools available
online survey software.
In summary, always
practices yield best results.
About the Author:
Jaime Brugueras, Ph.D., is
founder of Mineful.com,
a market research and analysis software that caters both the powerful
and occasional user. Mineful's web-based software tools cover a range
of marketing applications from data collection to advanced market
analysis including segmentation, survey research, and predictive
analytics. Sign up for a FREE unlimited time trial at Mineful.com.
Article Source: ArticlesBase.com
Surveys Best Practices