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When to Require Answers to Survey Questions

Posted: Oct 1, 2015

Survey Writing

There is a simple truth in Surveys.  The data is critical to you and your organization - but not necessarily critical to your respondent.  

Keep in mind that there may be several questions that they do not want to respond to.  Its even possible that they may taint the data by being forced to choose an answer to a question they do not care about.  Use the guidelines below to know when to require answers and when not to.

The easiest way to know when to require answers to a survey question is to divide your questions into two groups.  Those that you have to have an answer from and those that collect valuable information.  The difference is subtle - but important.

Questions that you need answers from are generally the decision making questions.  These are the ones that get right down to the heart of the data you are trying to collect.  They are usually worded in a very short and direct manner, often collect facts or choices that the respondent shouldn't have a hard time reaching.

Questions that collect valuable data are generally the feedback questions.  These are the ones that are designed to solicit general opinions and help you gather new perspectives or ideas.  These are often referred to as data mining and insight gathering questions.  

Your goal is often to determine in which general direction to go - rather then a specific A vs B selection.. When you can avoid requiring an answer to a question, choose to not make it required.  The interruption caused by a user having to go back and fill out a required question may cause them to get irritated.  This often leads to them being more critical during the survey and/or stopping their participation in it.

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