Survey Design Guidelines: The What, Why and How (with Examples)

Survey Design Guidelines

Picture this.

You’ve been asked to design a survey for your company. But the closer you get to its deadline, the more you find yourself wondering where to begin. And before you know it, you’re losing sleep just trying to figure it all out! Sounds exhausting, right? Well, we’re here to tell you that it shouldn’t be. Yes, designing and conducting a survey is indeed easier said than done. However, with the right tools at hand, this could even turn into a fun process!

Now, if you’re wondering why we even need surveys, let us stop you right there! Because, no matter what, there’s nothing like a survey to help you gather valuable feedback on your company. So, as hard as they might be to use, there really is no way around them. What do we do then, right? Well, we could refer to some survey design guidelines, of course!

And now, in light of this noble quest, we’ve prepared a fabulous guide on survey designing (with examples, mind you!) that will give you some great ideas to work on. So, if you’re all set, let’s begin!

Why Do You Even Need Survey Design Guidelines?

Let’s face it. We all dread filling out those old-school survey forms. In fact, they are often the worst offenders of the never-ending and dull styles of surveying. But fortunately for us, those days are now long gone! And today, with a great many experts chiming in, we’ve got hundreds of ways to make these questionnaires more eye-catching. But eye-catching doesn’t necessarily mean better responses. That’s why you need guidelines.

Now, if you’re curious to know what these survey design guidelines are, we get it! But before we tell you, we’d like to take a small detour and look at what survey designs are.

What’s A Survey Design?

Simply put, survey design is the process of putting together efficient surveys that will help you collect much-needed research. And more often than not, it uses an online survey tool or some ready-made templates. But if those aren’t for you, you’re also free to design a survey from scratch. So, this is where you get to choose your sample size, set a desirable response rate, select a survey medium, design your questions, and so on.

10 Great Guidelines For Your Survey Research Design!

Now, since you’re more familiar with survey design, we’ll let you in on our secrets. So, here are some great survey design guidelines, tips and tricks.

1. Keeping it Relevant

Do you know what’s most likely to throw your responders off track? That’s right! Irrelevant questions. So, before you even start thinking about the questions, make sure you plan out what you wish to assess. And once you lock that down, keep your questions very close to those goals.

For instance, let’s say you want to know how well your food products have been selling. So, you can ask them about its taste, quality, price, and so on. This way, when you tell them why you’re recording their answers, they’ll be more inclined to believe you.

2. Incentives Go a Long Way

Are you thinking about giving out some incentives for taking your survey? If so, you’re certainly on the right path! However, when it comes to questionnaire design, this can get a little dicey.

Now, there’s really no harm in offering some rewards. So, feel free to send out gift vouchers or discount coupons to your regular responders and non-responders. But fair warning! You do not want to overdo it. Because if you do, you might just push your customers to lie in the survey. So do watch out for false answers to see what works best for you!

3. Short and Sweet for the Win!

Say it with us! Nobody wants to fill out a 40-minute survey. Sure, in an ideal world, this would absolutely work, and you’d get some detailed answers. But sadly, that’s far from reality.

For one, you’d most likely bore your customers to death. Or they’d get frustrated with the non-stop questions and gain a negative image of your company. But more importantly, an insanely long survey would tell the responder that you do not respect their time. And that, dear readers, is why we say — ‘short and sweet is the best!’

4. Say Yes To Mobile Features

Given how quickly smartphones have taken over the world, it would be a bad idea to not have mobile features in your survey. So, while sending out an email survey, you may want to embed some cool features for your mobile users. For instance, in such a survey design, you could add features like doodling, swipe, drag-and-drop, share buttons, and more. And who’s to say? These attractive features might just improve your response rates.

5. Some Visual Aids, to Taste

The better your survey looks, the more responses you’re likely to get. So let your creative juices flow, and throw in some animations, fun color schemes, and more into your survey research design. And while you’re at it, make sure that the font is easy to read. This way, you can give your customers a fabulous visual treat that’d be hard to turn down.

6. A Touch of Personalization

Over the years, personalized surveys have been proven to improve customer engagement. This is because such surveys can make them feel heard and seen by your company. So when you send out your final questionnaire design, why not give them a personalized experience?

So go ahead and address your clients by name or send them tailor-made messages. In fact, while you’re at it, why not categorize them (based on their purchases) and assess their recent experiences? This way, they’ll know that you’re listening to their individual needs.

7. Stay in the Moment

Trust us when we say this! You do NOT want to be the company that sends out their surveys too late. So, while planning your survey design, make sure to put “timely email” at the top of your list. Then stick to that goal, and send out your questionnaires within 3 to 4 days of a customer’s purchase. This way, your client won’t forget about their experiences and can answer all your questions.

Now, if you feel this is too much work, we understand! However, this is an easy fix. With the help of online survey tools like SurveySparrow, you can now schedule your questionnaires whenever you need them. And then just sit back and relax, because you’ll never miss another survey!

8. Remember the Follow-up

If your follow-up game is strong, you’re already miles ahead of your competitors. Because most companies fail to send out a follow-up email. So, folks, always remember to send out your follow-up surveys! This way, you can get at least some of your non-responders to answer it.

9. Make it Fun

A survey design that entertains its responders is very likely to succeed. So, through means like chat surveys, gamification features, and more, you can keep your customers hooked. And guess what? If you add some humor to that, your users won’t bore too quickly!

10. Sprinkle the Marketing Mix

Finally, just put your marketing hats on and get to work! Because recent survey design methodology suggests that the 4 Ps of marketing — product, price, placement, and promotion — can be applied to surveys as well.

So, think of your questionnaire as a product you’re selling and market it accordingly. For instance, catchy titles, rewards, and more can entice your customers to spend their time (the price) on your survey. Similarly, you could also use pop-up surveys (placed at the right spot) to draw in your users.

Some Popular Survey Design Examples

The trick to a good survey is asking the right questions. But if you find it hard to nail this down, we understand! And this is why we’ve put together some examples of survey questions that you can use. So, let’s have a look at them.

1. The Multiple Choice

We’ve all, at some point in time, come across a multiple-choice question. And its beauty lies in the fact that it gives your respondents a finite number of answers. This way, they aren’t forced to think hard and can quickly move through the questions.

Now, are you wondering how this would work? Perhaps these survey design examples can help.

With this question, you can ask your customers to choose one answer and quickly move on. But if you want multiple right choices for a question, you can do this instead:

Here, your respondents are free to choose one or more answers from the list.

For best results, we’d urge you to put these questions at regular intervals in the survey. This way, you can ensure that it’ll be quick and efficient.

2. Ranking Order Questions

As far as survey design examples go, this is a great one! Here, you’d be able to have an overview of all answers, allowing for easy comparison.

Let’s consider a company, A. It’s time for their annual customer review, and they want to quiz people on their services. So, this is how that could look:

And so, this survey design would let your respondents rank each answer as they please.

3. The Image Type Question

Now, this is a clear no-brainer. Here, to spruce your survey up, you can show your respondents a series of images and ask them to choose one as their answer.

Let’s say you’re a company that produces hot and cold beverages. So, your products must range from soft drinks and fruit juices to hot coffees and teas. And in your survey design, you wish to find out what drinks would sell better during specific seasons. To do that, here’s how you can frame your question.

Then, you can show them images of all the beverages you sell and ask them to choose one or more.

Sounds fun, right? We think so!

4. Open-ended Questions

Finally, we’ve got the king of all survey questions, the open-ended ones. But fair warning! These questions come at a price.

Sure, they let you gather many long and thoughtful answers. However, they are also the most frustrating for your users. For one, they often need a lot of time to be answered. (You really don’t want them answering it all willy-nilly!) And second, not everyone would have something in-depth to say. So, while you must give them such a question, make sure they’re also optional!

Now, here are some open-ended survey design examples:

  • What are your thoughts on our product XYZ?
  • How would you like us to improve?
  • Do you have any suggestions for us? And so on.

Are You Getting Enough Survey Responses?

This is a question that has plagued every company at some point in time. And if you ask us, it’s certainly a valid one. So how do you make sure you’re getting enough responses? Well, here’s how!

  • First, you’ve got to be sure that you have the right sample size selected. This is the only way to ensure that the data you collect is statistically valid.
  • But wait! Before you send the survey out, take it for a quick test drive. Here, you can keep an eye out for any errors in the design.
  • When that’s done, your survey is all set to go out. But to get enough survey responses, you need to have a catchy subject line in the email.
  • At the same time, be sure to proofread the message in the email. This way, you can save yourself from silent judgment.
  • Finally, be sure to send out follow-up emails after the initial survey. This way, you can lure in at least some of the non-responders. These are all part of the survey design guidelines, so make sure to follow through.

Survey Analysis Done Right

Whoo, success! You’ve now got your responses, and it’s time to analyze them. So what should you do next?

The first thing you must do is verify that the data is all good. So, this is where you’d weed out the false answers.

Next, sharpen your slice and dice skills because it’s time to chop up the data! Here, you must go through each answer and group them as needed. And at the same time, you can find out things like how many users left the survey in the middle, how many were able to finish it, and so on.

And lastly, to complete your survey analysis, you must use the data you have to answer the questions you had in mind. Then, put these points into a neat report and call it a day!

Need Help? Ask an Expert!

Now that we’ve listed out everything your survey design needs, it’s time to get to work. But if you’re still a little unsure how to proceed, don’t worry! Your next best bet is to hire a survey company to guide you through the design guidelines. And today, with companies like SurveySparrow, this is no longer a pipe dream. So, with the right expert by your side, say hello to fun chat surveys, cool templates, great analysis tools, and more!

Winding Up

Building an effective survey is nothing short of an art. And much like art, it’s also not an easy skill to master (but not impossible, mind you!). So, if you’re out there scrolling through countless guides like these, we understand! In fact, we’d like you to pat yourselves on the back for trying.

However, this is only the first step. So next, you need to learn and grow from your feedback. Here, pay close attention to what the data says about the company, its products and your survey design. Then, you must work those into your future policies. And soon, you’ll get to spread your wings and fly!

But hold on. If you’re still out there wondering where to begin, there’s no need to panic. Instead, just take a deep breath, put your work cape on, and read these survey design guidelines from the top. And then again, and again, until you can sit back and watch the magic unfold!

Originally published at https://surveysparrow.com on July 20, 2021.

SurveySparrow lets you turn surveys into conversations.

SurveySparrow lets you turn surveys into conversations.