Questionnaires are a great way to find out the opinions, intentions, behaviours and preferences of your respondents. Used across many different industries, they can provide you with valuable data when carrying out market or scientific research, providing insight into what your audience feels or thinks.
Generally, a questionnaire is made up of a number of questions with multiple predefined answers for your respondents to choose from. When it comes to creating your questionnaire, you need to think carefully about what you’re wanting to achieve and what information you are looking to gather.
With that in mind, this brief guide is looking to provide helpful tips about how to create, design and optimise your questionnaire for best results.
Choosing between online or paper version depends on many factors, including your target audience, budget, time constraints and the type of questions you’re asking.
Online surveys provide more flexibility with the option of using drop-down boxes and allow respondents to type rather than to write their answers. It is also less effort for respondents to simply complete a survey on their phone or desktop and click send, rather than having to post or hand in their paper answers.
However, online surveys can pose accessibility concerns to those who don’t use the web. They also require a level of technical knowledge that not everyone may have, and some researchers believe that while both may be similar in structure, the way participants perceive them differs, with paper questionnaires being more favourable – referring to psychometric considerations. Also some of your participants might not even receive the invitations to complete, due to having multiple and unused emails, or the invitations going to junk folders.
Paper questionnaires do have their strengths, such as providing access to a target demographic that may not have the technical knowledge to complete an online survey. They also provide access to visually impaired, so no matter how positive online questionnaires may seem, there’s no point sending one out if they’re not going to reach your target audience. They also prove extremely useful in meeting or seminars where the respondent can instantly hand their paper questionnaire in.
However, paper questionnaires do increase paper consumption and may not be the most environmentally friendly way of sourcing the data you need. They also have a generally larger costs associated with designing and distributing them.
When it comes to choosing the questions you’re going to ask, you need to ensure you’re not prompting or leading to a particular answer. You also need to use appropriate language for your target audience and demographic, asking questions in specific ways to ensure you receive rich data that provides you with quality insights. It’s also important to only ask one question at a time.
You first need to consider if you’re going to ask open, closed or scale rating questions to acquire your data. Open questions will allow you to explore topics in more detail and give your respondents the chance to provide a lengthier answer, however, people may not have the time or won’t bother to give a longer answer, possibly invalidating the response. Closed questions, on the other hand give respondents multiple choice answers, making them easier and faster to complete.
It is also important to ensure that your questionnaire has logical flow and doesn’t jump back and forth between topics, as it can confuse respondents and provide less valid responses for data capture.
This example illustrates several issues that you should always try to avoid when developing questions:
First and arguably the most important step is to identify your research aims and develop your questions. It is important to understand that there rarely is a one-size-fits-all type of questionnaire, it really does depend on many factors, however, there are some useful tips you can follow to ensure accurate and efficient data capture after you receive the responses. Once you have optimised each question separately, it’s time to design the overall layout.
Do your best to plan the survey at the beginning thoroughly, so that there won’t be need to make any changes during the process, as that can significantly hinder initially set timescales, budget etc. When designing the overall flow of your questionnaire, take extra care with visibility concerns – use reasonably sized check boxes and fonts, ensuring that you’re making it as easy as possible for respondents to read and understand the questions. Also, try to avoid using open questions, unless those are crucial for the research, as they make data capture much harder, due to having to capture those manually, rather than using OCR and OMR technologies.
Generally, if you want to ensure that data capture goes as smoothly and cost effectively as possible and utilises minimal amount of human intervention aim for consistent and attractive layout. Exceptions, open ended questions, inconsistencies will not only hinder the data capture process, but consequently affect the answers from respondents.
Below are two examples of an event feedback surveys, one of them designed with specific goals in mind to receive effective and relevant responses, while other has several issues to demonstrate what you should be looking to avoid.
If you would like to start your own research project, but unsure where to start feel free to get in touch with us and we will gladly help you with any survey design, data capture and distribution related questions.
Feature image by janoon028 from freepik.com
In conjunction with the EN BS ISO 9001:2005, 27001, 14001 and in-house implemented quality, security and compliance procedures allow us to deliver peace of mind scanning services to our client. We are an approved document scanning and data capture scanning service provider to many reputable health, education, manufacturing, financial, logistics etc. organisations.
Founded in 2003, with almost 15 years of valuable knowledge and expertise in delivering successful document scanning and data capture services through the UK to some of the most reputable and globally known organisations.
We operate from a custom built document scanning and data capture centre, which is built around security, safety and confidentiality. The site is monitored 24hours a day by security and CCTV systems.
The document scanning and data capture bureau is equipped with the state-of-the-art dedicated document, Microfilm media, Books and Large Format Plans scanning and capture technology; catering for a wide range of document types and sizes making us a one-stop service provider for scanning and digital conversion needs . We continually invest in our staff training and latest technology to ensure that we are delivering quality and innovations at all times.
Pearl Scan Group has the infrastructure to provide quick turnaround for urgent document scanning needs to taking on a large volume scanning and conversion of documents, microfilm media, books etc. projects. Our document scanning and data capture service centre always run at 80% of its productivity allowing 20% space and resources for on-demand, ad-hock projects.