Corporate Programs

Steps to create a great survey.

Clearly define the purpose of your online survey

Good surveys have focused objectives that are easily understood.
  • What is the goal of this survey?
  • Why are you creating this survey?
  • What do you hope to accomplish with this survey?
  • How will you use the data you are collecting?
  • What decisions do you hope to impact with the results of this survey? (This will later help you identify what data you need to collect in order to make these decisions.)

Keep the survey short and focused

It is generally better to focus on a single objective than try to create a master survey that covers multiple objectives.  Shorter surveys generally have higher response rates and lower abandonment among survey respondents.

Make sure each of your questions is focused on helping to meet your stated objective. Don’t toss in ‘nice to have’ questions that don’t directly provide data to help you meet your objectives.

To be certain that the survey is short; time a few people taking the survey. The survey should take 5 minutes or less to complete. 6 – 10 minutes is acceptable but we see significant abandonment rates occurring after 11 minutes.

Keep the questions simple

Make sure your questions get to the point and avoid the use of jargon. Don’t assume that your survey takers are as comfortable with your acronyms as you are.

Use closed ended questions whenever possible

Closed ended survey questions give respondents specific choices, making it easier to analyze results. Closed ended questions can take the form of yes/no, multiple choice or rating scale. Open–ended questions are great supplemental questions and may provide useful qualitative information and insights.

Keep rating scale questions consistent through the survey

Use the same number of points on the scale and make sure meanings of high and low stay consistent throughout the survey. Also, use an odd number in your rating scale to make data analysis easier.

Logical ordering

Make sure your survey flows in a logical order. Begin with a brief introduction that motivates survey takers to complete the survey.  Next, it is a good idea to start from broader–based questions and then move to those narrower in scope. It is usually better to collect demographic data and ask any sensitive questions at the end, unless you are using this information to screen out survey participants.

Pre–test your survey

We will pre–test your survey with co–workers to find glitches and unexpected question interpretations.

Consider offering an incentive

Depending upon the type of survey and survey audience, offering an incentive is usually very effective at improving response rates, by 50% on average.
One caveat is to keep the incentive appropriate in scope. Overly large incentives can lead to undesirable behavior, for example, people lying about demographics to not be screened out from the survey.
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