Survey Design: Hints, Tips and Advice

Getting bogged down in Questionnaire Quicksand

The best surveys are those where respondents move through the questionnaire smoothly being presented with varied questions and answering them at a nice even pace. Respondents feel they are making progress and maintain their interest. We need to avoid them falling into what I’m calling “Questionnaire Quicksand”, those all too familiar parts of surveys where respondents get trapped and unable…

Don’t get lost in a forest of data – focus your research.

My wife and I are currently in the process of “re-doing” our bedroom. It’s a process we’ve previously been through a few times with other rooms but, despite this experience, we’re not great at it. We both agree that a room needs freshening up but neither of us are great at visualising what we eventually want the room to look…

Root survey research in respondent reality

These days, it’s not difficult to find blogs or articles on survey engagement containing worthwhile advice on question design, the importance of how your survey looks, mobile optimisation etc. But many of these articles overlook one of the most fundamental ways to engage respondents; making the survey relevant. Too many times I’ve answered surveys that ask me for perceptions of…

Rank bad questions: how not to ask ranking questions

I’ve seen a couple of questions recently which have asked respondents to rank long lists of attributes. An example is shown below:   Ignoring the fact that I’ve never looked for any “benefit” in a loyalty rewards programme for an online travel agency, and I’ve no idea which criteria I should be using for ranking these benefits, there are several…

Its not a maths exam! Don't ask respondents to calculate percentages.

A client recently wanted to include a question on a b2b survey asking retailers what percentage of their sales of a certain product were accounted for by different brands. I took their request very literally and turned it into a question that directly asked the percentage of total sales that each brand accounted for. There was no problem with respondents understanding…

Surveys Room 101: My pet hates about surveys

As an experienced survey designer I often see questionnaires that frustrate me in some way, be they too long, too complicated or just designed without any regard for the respondents who are asked to complete them. I try not to let these frustrations affect my mood. However, there are some relatively minor, but recurring, issues that anger me to the point…

Why are we weighting? A basic introduction to the concept of weighting

Often, data collected from surveys isn’t exactly representative of the target population even in those instances where quotas have been applied (see our blog on how to get representative samples for more on quotas). Weighting is a statistical technique that can be used to correct any imbalances in sample profiles after data collection. Imagine we have a target population that is evenly split…

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