Web Development

Beginner’s Guide: Tips on Making Your First Online Survey

As defined, an online survey is a popular and useful data-collection tool where participants are asked to answer a set of questions. These can be generated by using a number of free online survey tools, each with a specific goal in mind. They’re easy to disseminate and can effectively gather insights and invaluable feedback about products, services, changes in marketing strategies, improvements in current features, and many more.

Many organizations have been consistently relying on online surveys because they’re low-cost, easy to distribute, and makes the process of collecting feedback much easier. This is why if you’re planning to use this tool for your business, you have to know what sets a good survey apart from a bad one. Quality is key and you need to be able to consider factors such as accuracy, design, data privacy, relevancy, functionality, and many more, when creating an online survey.

Included in this list are just some of the key factors that influence a survey quality. Don’t make the mistake of making survey questions blind or using any random template you found online. Instead, you have to be calculated with the choices you make and how you deliver questions to your potential audience. Read on.

Define Your Goal

The survey goal is one of the most essential elements to creating a high-quality online survey. Even before your respondents answer a set of questions, you have to provide an introduction. This is what will set the tone for everything that your respondents will do. It’s what they will refer to when understanding the survey rationale, objectives, and purpose. Making a good first impression is critical to not just the survey format itself, but also its completion rates.

Your survey introduction will depend on what you want to measure. Let’s say you’re sending out a customer satisfaction survey. Your introduction shouldn’t be “I want to better understand customer satisfaction”. Instead, put measurable factors that your audience can answer. A better way of rephrasing the question would be “I want to find out the factors that lead our customers to leave or come back”.

With a clearly-defined goal, you can refer to this to set priorities regarding the questions you want to ask your audience.

Avoid Unbiased Questions

As much as possible, keep the survey questions short. Choose from popular survey question formats, such as multiple-choice, Likert scales, drop-down questions, slider questions, or file-upload questions. While you may require an open-ended question, be sure that you phrase the question properly. Don’t use biased questions that influence the respondent to choose between one or the other.

For example: “How happy are you with our service?” implies that the respondent is satisfied with these services. These types of questions only serve to make your survey inaccurate, which is why they should be avoided at all costs. You can rephrase this biased question into “Are you satisfied with our service? Rate your satisfaction from 1-10 with 10 being Extremely Satisfied and 1 being Not At All Satisfied”. 

Put Sensitive Questions at the End

A survey is like a good and comfortable conversation. It should start off with a few ice breaker questions, like “Which of these do you like doing most during spring?”, for example. This type of question does not compromise the respondent and builds up their confidence to answer more personal questions and share more sensitive information later on.

Sensitive questions should be put at the end of the survey, such as “What is your level of education?” or “Which of these choices more or less reflect how much you earn on a monthly basis?”. In each of these sensitive questions, emphasize that privacy of information will be honored. Assure them that their answers will be used only for the purpose stated therein and that they can have peace of mind knowing the answers won’t be divulged elsewhere.

Include a Survey Progress Bar

When your respondents answer the survey, always assume that they are thinking about when the survey will end, rather than focusing on the quality of their answers. Keep in mind that by having them answer the survey alone, you’re already taking valuable time off their busy schedules.

Including a survey progress bar to set expectations is wise because it helps the respondent know how many questions are left. It also tells how much time it will take before they finish the survey. Accompany the progress bar with encouraging language such as “You’re almost there!” or “Just a few more questions to go!” — think about how best to reassure the participant in that way.

Use Understandable Language

It’s better to use understandable and non-highfalutin language throughout the survey. Not unless you’re interviewing a group of scientific experts or experienced entrepreneurs. In many ways, this makes the answering proper much easier for the participants. Similarly, you’ll benefit from much higher completion rates. Your respondents didn’t exit in the middle of the survey due to being unable to understand the questions.

If you do have to use jargon, make it a point to explain it or use another word in place. You’re not alienating your respondents this way — plus, they’ll also appreciate the effort it took for you to make the experience smooth-sailing for them.

Key Takeaway

Using free online survey tools is one way to create an engaging and well-designed survey, but every beginner must understand a few essential tips. First, it’s crucial that the survey defines its goal to its audience. This will help them provide accurate, unbiased answers that haven’t been influenced by the way the questions were stated. Next, is that the respondent must feel comfortable throughout the survey.

Using simple language, assuring them of data privacy, and adding a progress bar are effective things to do for this. As basic as these factors may be, they’re oftentimes overlooked by even the largest organizations. As a beginner, you have the benefit of knowing what to put and what to avoid from the get-go, to create a good online survey.

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