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Online Survey Questions that Create Response

Coming up with online survey questions that create response demands a degree of skill that is only acquired through practice. In order to obtain useful responses, it is necessary to ask the right questions. The discussion that follows illustrates a few of the common problems that may arise as you construct a questionnaire.

Clarity counts

Avoid word choices that are prone to misinterpretation. Subtle changes in verbiage may elicit vast differences in answers. "Should" and "could" seem nearly identical but may result in a disparity of agreement with a query. Try to avoid questions that are poorly positioned - that is, questions placed out of sequence or in the wrong context.

Take the funnel

A funnel strategy asks wide-ranging non-specific questions at the start of the survey in order to prepare the survey taker. Proceed with more detailed questions next, concluding with simpler questions that pertain to personal demographics.

Prevent multiple choice mix-ups

Mutually non-exclusive answer sections are a trap that survey makers should avoid. Ideally, make multiple choice answer sections mutually exclusive to ensure that the survey taker chooses the appropriate selections. Non-exclusive responses not only annoy the respondent; they create difficulties in analyzing survey results.

Avoid technical jargon

Inquiring about bytes, bits, or other rather technical terms, as well as acronyms that are unfamiliar to the survey taker, only leads to confusion. Exercise care to ensure that your targeted respondents are familiar with the wording you choose and - most importantly - that they know what is being asked of them.

Narrow the focus

Non-directed questions allow survey takers to interpret things in a broader manner. For example, "What recommendations can you offer to make tomato juice better?" This question isn't specific enough, so instead of getting answers pertaining to taste - the intended focus - responses might focus on improving texture, product packaging or something else altogether.

Pressure works in sales, not surveys

Avoid including questions that are perceived as pressuring the respondent. Survey takers might not feel comfortable giving out all of their personal information in response to survey questions; protection of privacy is critical. Questions regarding employment, marital status, religion, income or political beliefs might be considered too personal; most times, they are left unanswered by the survey taker.

Creating survey forms that generate useful responses is a technique that rewards the survey maker and makes the best use of the survey taker's time.