Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Questionable Questionnaires?

I recently received an online survey from an organization that I'm affiliated with. It was a pretty standard survey about customer experience, intent, and expectations. So as I got into the survey, it was 9 questions - I hit submit - and I get 12 more questions - submit - 7 more questions... submit - 11 more questions ... and it went on, with no end in sight. Additionally, the questions were redundant, asking essentially the same question in four slightly different ways. Here's a snippet of questions 11-14:
  • I possess the necessary skills to attain my goals
  • I have what it takes to reach my goals
  • I have the necessary knowledge to reach my goals
  • I have the ability to reach my goals
This survey ultimately went on for 101 questions, and with every 'Submit' I clicked, I prayed it was the last. Normally I would've bailed at about 35 or 40 questions, but since I was affiliated with this group, I felt an obligation to fill the survey out in its entirety.

Which brings me to a guideline for conducting a questionnaire:
  1. If you don't ask, you can't get an answer
  2. If there is something wrong in the questionnaire, the survey is a waste - Test your survey with a smaller audience first to make sure they're written to elicit the type of response you're looking for.
  3. Think about multiple answers
  4. Avoid leading questions - You want unbiased true answers, not leading the respondent to the answer you desire.
  5. Minimize open-ended questions - While they offer a wealth of insight, they are much harder to analyze.
  6. Use simple, direct, and familiar vocabulary - The folks at Google did a survey in NYC and asked people on the street "What is a Browser?" - less than 8% got it right.
  7. Avoid unique or ambiguous meanings.
  8. Start with easy questions, then move onto specific questions later.
  9. Create an expectation of time and progress - Most web-based survey sites have a progress bar, or you can be up front about how many questions there are before they start.
  10. KEEP IT SHORT - Don't ask for anything you won't actually use.

No comments: