How to create a survey
The power and potential of surveys are limitless – if you know how to create them in the most effective manner.
When it comes to creating a survey, break the task down into a series of steps, taking time and care to optimize each stage of the process.
Effective surveys set out to achieve a tangible outcome, with clearly defined parameters for success. Design (with regard to the order, form, question types,and weighting of your questions) will also play a key role in the way that your survey performs.
Here are our detailed recommendations for a successful survey strategy.
1. Obtain a clear objective for the survey
This is an important first step. Make sure you have absolute clarity when it comes to what you’re looking to accomplish as the result of running your survey. Ask yourself:
What problem are you trying to solve? The more specific you can be, the easier you will find crafting your questions.
Who is your target audience? What has led you to focus on this particular segment? Would any other groups be able to help you get a broader context?
Exactly what you will be able to achieve as a result of the information you gain from this survey? Again, the more specific you are here, the better your results will be!
2. Set parameters for success and validity of your survey
A survey must be well-constructed. Without taking time to decide what is needed to achieve validity, you won’t be able to place full trust in your results. Ask yourself questions such as:
3. Design your survey
Once you’ve completed the first two steps of this process, you’ll have a good idea of the “why” and the “how” of your survey. Now, it’s time to get crafting your questions!
Here’s a flow you might like to consider.
1. First, create a rough set of questions that you’d like answers to
Don’t limit yourself or overthink things. You’re creating a long list that can be whittled down and refined throughout the design process.
2. Now refer back to the earlier foundations you laid
Which of these questions serve the key objective of your survey?
Note: It’s important to keep surveys as concise as possible, to encourage and achieve a high completion rate.
3. Next, start to refine your list of questions
Decide which constitutes your top research questions. These are the questions that get to the heart of the matter you are investigating and will help your survey fulfill its core objectives. As a result, they should be prioritized as you pull your survey into its final form.
4. Look again at how you’re phrasing your questions
Will they be open-ended or closed-ended? Would a mix of both forms of phrasing better suit the purposes of your survey?
Open-ended questions enable the respondent to give a free-form answer, usually in the form of a few sentences of text.
In your own words, describe what you’re looking for in the perfect cup of coffee?
Closed-ended questions are more prescriptive, giving a set range of possible answers to select from. The respondent could be allowed to choose a single or multiple choice of answers from the given options.
Which of the following is most important to you when it comes to selecting the coffee you buy?
A. Strength B. Aroma C. Fair Trade Status D. Packaging
5. Finally, think about whether your questions take a quantitative or qualitative approach
Let’s take a quick look at what’s meant by this:
Either measuring or measured by the quantity of something, as opposed to its quality.)
Examples of quantitative questions include:
How often do you drink tea at your place of work?
How many times per week do you purchase tea from a cafe?
Which cafe do you purchase tea from most regularly?
Either measuring or measured by the quality (size, value, etc) of something, as opposed to its quality. They tend to be more subjective.
Examples of quantitative questions include:
What’s your favorite brand of tea?
What do you think about adding honey to tea?
Do you add milk to your tea?
Neither form of questioning is ‘better’ or ‘more correct’ – most surveys will benefit from a blend of both qualitative and quantitative questioning, and the exact ratio will depend on your unique objectives.
4. Finally, test your survey
Ask a few subjects to complete the survey whilst being observed. Ask them to describe their interpretation of the questions, and take careful note of any stumbling blocks or elements of confusion.
This last step is a very beneficial way of adding the final polish to your survey by highlighting opportunities for improvement you may have overlooked.