8 Essential tips for writing questionnaire and survey questions

Eight essential tips for writing questionnaire and survey questions

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 Eight essential tips for writing questionnaire and survey questions
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How do you plan for the future of your business? Which new service should you offer? Which of your products has been the most popular? What is the reason for the decrease in your organization’s sales? Where should you open the next branch for your business? Were the training services helpful? Which problem has reduced the popularity of your organization?

The best way to answer all the questions that build the future policies of your organization is surveying. Furthermore, the use of various types of online surveys and questionnaires fills the gaps that exist in their traditional types. This way, you will have a magic stick that will keep your organization in the best possible situation.

Writing online questionnaire and survey questions in a correct way is also very important. If you cannot ask the correct survey questions, the probability of bias will increase in the answers you will get, the response rate to your questionnaire will decrease, and you will get invalid statistical data as a result.

In this post, we overview the key points for writing and designing a better survey. Recommendations that do not seem important will let you obtain reliable statistics if you follow them.

Where to start writing surveys and questionnaires?

Preparing survey questions seems very simple, but it is rarely possible to ask effective questions. Wrong questions are those that have wrong answers, and wrong results lead to illogical decisions. In the end, you will be offering products and services that no one wants to get. This makes it very important to prepare survey questions accurately.

Of course, the easiest way to write a survey is to write the questions in mind on a piece of paper. But to start, it is better to write all the answers you need, instead of writing the question. This will help you avoid questions that there is no reason to ask.

You can even compare the survey questions you have written with the list of answer. If there are any unnecessary or redundant questions, you can remove them from the survey.

The good design of the online survey also helps the respondents to understand the questions better. On the other hand, if the survey has a poor or inappropriate design, the questions of the questionnaire will not be understood properly.

Essential tips for making questionnaires and surveys

If you want to collect good data for analysis and decision-making with the help of a survey, follow these eight efficient tips for writing survey questions:

1) Design a short survey

Usually, the following happens to survey respondents after spending about 15 minutes on it:

  • They decide not to continue answering. Not answering the questions or leaving them half-complete makes your survey and all your efforts useless.
  • Their concentration on the answers they provide decreases. The respondents’ decrease in concentration makes them randomly choose the choices to reach the end of the questionnaire as quickly as possible.
  • They fell angry. As a result, if you want to evaluate customer satisfaction or loyalty for example, you will get an opposite result by making a long survey.

For all these reasons, if for any reason your survey or questionnaire becomes long, do the following:

a) Divide it into several sections

This way, the survey seems more attractive at first glance. Of course, this method is not a reason to increase the survey’s number of sections, because having too many sections by itself causes boredom. On Porsline, you can use the feature of grouping questions to classify the questions. This method allows you to define different groups of related questions in the survey.

b) Show progress bar

Progress bar is one of the easiest ways to motivate the respondent while answering a survey. Showing progress bar is another feature on Porsline. This bar makes the respondent aware of his/her progress at all stages.

2) Use simple and understandable words and phrases

Ask in simple and clear language regardless of who will answer your questionnaire. You can also use a simple and understandable term, example or definition wherever necessary. Of course, this does not mean to exaggerate, and you should focus on writing accurate questions instead of detailed explanations.

Using complex words, phrases and words that can have multiple meanings can increase the number of inaccurate responses. Also, be aware that some concepts may even have different meanings for different people.

A common example is the ambiguous and incomprehensible phrases and sentences in some studies, especially academic research. Because these surveys are usually translated from another language, they are more likely to be incomprehensible.

Another example is the online quiz questions, which should be written as simply as possible so that the respondents can answer the questions more easily.

3) Address respondents in a friendly manner

Your questions should not make respondents feel incompetent. Use phrases like “what do you think” and “do you think?”. This way, the respondent feels that their opinion is really heard and that he/she is not answering the questions of an exam!

For example, suppose that you want to ask an organization’s HR manager about poor HR performance. Instead of asking “Do your employees have time for training?” Ask him/her the following:

“The result of our survey of many organizations is that little time is devoted to training the employees, and the reasons may be the lack of financial resources or having other priorities such as work missions. Do your employees have time for training?”

The most important point is that people are usually willing to help. So tell them that this survey has a purpose that can be achieved if they help in filling it. This way, the respondent will answer the survey questions with pleasure and goodwill.

4) Determine a time frame for some of the questionnaire and survey questions

Note these questions:

  • “How much time do you spend on the Internet?”
  • “How much money do you spend on traveling?”

In this type of survey questions, you should specify a time frame for the respondent to provide you with more accurate information. More importantly, it is better to mention the considered time period at the beginning of the question.

  • “Last week, how much time have you spent online?”
  • “During the last six months, how much money have you spent on traveling?”

If you don’t have a specific time period in mind, use words like “in general”, “generally”, and “in total”. But keep in mind that this type of questions is difficult to answer and that you will not get accurate data out of it.

5) Do not ask more than one topic in each question

Note this question:

“Does my supervisor consult with me to do the work and give me discretion in the work?”

If the supervisor consults with the respondent of this question but does not give him/her discretion in the work, how should he/she answer!? These phrases are called “Double-barreled Questions”, i.e. two subjects are asked in one question.

If we change the question in the example above to the following two questions:

“In the last six months, has my supervisor consulted with me to do the work?”

“In the last six months, have I been given discretion in the work?”

We will get a more accurate response. Note how the time frame is used in these questions!

6) Do not let the question imply a positive or negative meaning

Note this question:

“Last week, how much money have you wasted going out to cafes?”

Do not influence the respondent’s thoughts by using personal opinions in the question, as responses to such questions will not be accurate. Such questions are called “loaded questions”. That is, the question carries a positive or negative emotional load. In the example above, we can ask:

“Last week, how much of your income did you spend at the cafe?”

7) Avoid bias caused by the order of survey questions

Sometimes, the opinions of researchers can influence survey questions. This means subtly persuading respondents to provide specific responses such as asking these two questions in this order within a survey:

“How important do you think content marketing is?”

“Next year, how much money will you invest in content marketing?”

While answering the first question, the respondent may think that content marketing is very important. In this case, he/she will announce a greater amount while answering the second question.

Questions about demographic information may also influence the survey results. For example, in a research, applicants were asked to specify their gender at the beginning of a math test. Surprisingly, girls scored worse than they scored when applicants were asked to specify their gender at the end of the test. This type of questioning is associated with a common error called “Stereotype Threat”.

The bias caused by the order of the questions can affect the results and their analysis. In such cases, using an online survey is really very important. In the online method, the problem is solved by randomly displaying questions or options. Of course, adding demographic questions at the end of the survey is a good method, too.

8) Do not use general questions

Note this question:

“What do you think about our product?”

When the respondent is asked this question, he/she does not know about which part of the product he/she will express their opinion. Is it asking about the Quality? Price? Is it worth buying? After-sales services? If you seek to use the collected information for improving your organization, you must write your survey questions accurately. You can even use the sample surveys available on Porsline to create your own Customer Satisfaction Survey.


The main reason for creating questionnaire and surveys forms is to prepare and analyze reliable statistics. On the other hand, the existence of data that can be associated with precise analysis is only possible in the light of a well-considered and duly constructed survey.

How to write survey questions is a fundamental step in achieving your goals. Designing the survey in a correct and duly method will allow you to have a correct analysis of your organization’s circumstances. The process of designing questionnaire and survey questions may take a lot of time and effort, but it will definitely give you a reliable result in the end.

Of course, using a comprehensive platform like Porsline is a great help in preparing surveys. After writing the questionnaire and survey questions, if you review them with a number of your audience, you will also get rid of potential problems. The respondents’ opinions will confirm you whether you have avoided the eight common mistakes mentioned in this post.

kamal hani

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