Let's face it – writing an effective survey is hard. There is always the nagging feeling of “did I do it right?”, “can I trust my responses?”
These 5 simple tips for writing effective surveys will help you have more confidence in the survey that you created. You can trust your results and know that you are making intelligent, data backed decisions.
Tip 1: Work with a Purpose
Before you start your survey decide upon what the outcome should be. Almost all surveys are created to make a decision afterwards with the collected data. What is the decision or decisions you are trying to make.
Tip 2: Data is King
This might sound unorthodox – but once you know the decisions you need to make, work backwards from there. What data will be required for you to make those decisions? This will determine what questions you need to ask in order to achieve that data.
Tip 3: Stay on Mutual Ground
It can be really easy to favor an answer choice over another simply by how the question is worded and presented. Have others check your questions for bias and ensure that you are not leading your users to a particular answer. Also take advantage of built in tools to randomize the answer choices, randomize the question order and so to help get a truly randomized survey if it calls for it.
Tip 4: Test, Test, Test
Send your survey to select group of beta users, product moderators, work partners, friends or others who are in a position to give feedback. Try to find out if any questions do not make sense or if any question bias exists. Also use the opportunity to test the technology and ensure that the collected data will be adequate to make a decision.
Tip 5: Validate the Data
Analyzing the data is so often the fun part… but don't jump to immediate conclusions based solely upon a quick graph display. Take the required time to consume all of the results and understand the relationships between them. Interpreting all the data together is certainly more valuable then the sum of all the responses.