A survey is a great way to capture a large amount of data. Unfortunately, surveys are often not as effective as they could be because of poorly worded questions.
Nine top tips for designing surveys
1 Think about your target audience
- Consider which language to ask your questions in and whether you will need translation.
- Use simple language and avoid jargon.
2 Think about the order of your questions
- Make sure the questions flow in a logical order.
- Start with the simple and interesting questions.
- Place the sensitive questions last.
3 Do not ask too many questions
- If you are not going to use the answer to a question, do not ask it. Do not ask questions if they are only for interest.
4 Let respondents skip questions that do not apply to them
- For example: ‘If you have not used the health centre, move to question 5.’
5 Avoid questions that are too demanding or take too long to answer
- Do not ask too many open questions that require written responses, as this may put people off.
6 Get someone to check through your questions
- It is harder to spot your own mistakes.
7 Test and then adjust your questionnaire
- Allow enough time for testing your questionnaire with a smaller group. This may reveal problems, eg confusing questions.
8 Allow time for training the people who will be carrying out the survey
- Make sure the people collecting the data fully understand the questions and how to record the answers.
9 Think about how you will collect and analyse the responses
- Will you collect data using pen and paper, or digital methods? (See page 6.)
- How will you store, analyse and use the information?
You could use this activity with a group. Cover the right-hand side of this activity box and discuss why the example survey questions are unhelpful. Then ask the group, ‘How could the questions be improved?’