There are often times when we need to capture the views of people. And if you want to know what people think about something then you just have to ask them. But it’s not always that simple. To get the information that will meaningfully inform your work you have to ask the right questions in the right way.
Surveys are being carried out all the time but not all data gathered is of the same quality. Some people design questions to get the answers they want to hear in order to prove a point, perhaps by asking leading questions or restricting the options that respondents can choose from. However, results from surveys like this may be easily discredited because of the way they are collected in the first place. Sensational, yet poor quality, survey results may make the headlines for a day or two but if you want to make a long-term, appropriate impact you’ll require credible evidence.
For a start, you need to make sure you design your questionnaire in the right way. Here are five tips to bear in mind when designing your questionnaire:
1. Know what exactly you intend to do with the results – Before you even start writing your questionnaire, you should be clear on exactly what you want to know and why. Your survey should have a tangible purpose.
2. Be clear - Make sure your questions, and any response options you offer, are really clear. If there’s any ambiguity in the mind of the respondent, then you may have problems interpreting the results.
3. Understand data protection requirements – There are legal requirements regarding how you obtain, hold and use personal data. Let people know what you intend to do with any personal details they may provide and how you will use their feedback.
4. Survey length – Consider how much time it will take people to complete your questionnaire. Don’t make it too long or a lot of people will get bored and give up. Let participants know approximately how long it will take them to complete the it.
5. Thank participants for their time – After all, they don’t have to take time out of their busy lives to fill in your questionnaire but they’ve chosen to help you out. So, don’t they deserve a little thanks? It doesn’t cost anything and everyone appreciates good manners!
Of course, there are many other things you need to know when carrying out surveys including: targeting the right audience in the right way, knowing what sample size would give you the most helpful results, deciding whether the results are representative, and how to accurately interpret the results. As William W. Watt once said: “Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say.”
We recommend seeking guidance in designing, implementing and interpreting your survey. From courses, to books, to online resources, there are a wealth of sources out that there that can help.
© Tangelo House 2020