Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just Try It Out #5: Questionnaire Design

A couple of weeks ago we talked about beginning your marketing this year with a spot of market research. We then brought you a Just Try It Out focusing on Focus groups.

A comprehensive research study also often involves using questionnaires; therefore in this issue of Just try it out we provide you with a few dos and don’ts of questionnaire design to get you started.


  • Make sure your questions provide information that relate to your objectives and is useful to know, not just ‘nice to know’
  • Ensure the first question filters out inappropriate respondents. For example, if you want to know about the views of smokers, ‘Do you smoke?’ would be an appropriate first question
  • Make sure that your questions follow a logical order
  • Put the easy questions first
  • Have more interesting questions towards the end to maintain interest
  • Keep language used simple, especially if the questionnaire is self-completion
  • Be precise
  • Phrase personal or sensitive questions carefully and leave them towards the end
  • Test out the questionnaire and refine it before unleashing it on the masses


  • Make assumptions
  • Ask questions respondents can’t answer
  • Ask questions that overtax the respondent’s memory
  • Ask questions that might make the respondent look stupid or involve a loss of status. For example, don’t ask specifically how much respondents earn. If you need to ask a sensitive question such as this, group answers together in bands
  • Ask leading questions. If you sway their response, your results won’t be an accurate reflection of opinion
  • Ask two questions at once, e.g. “Would you buy this if it was cheaper and better?”
  • Refer to answers other respondents gave

Ultimately, good design comes with experience. Having expert advice and guidance is a good idea, however, it is worth trying to master questionnaire design yourself.

Monitor your results each time you complete a questionnaire and keep trying - practice makes perfect!

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