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How To Design And Analyze A Survey

Kate William

7 min read

In your life, you have had one of two experiences. Either you have designed a survey yourself that gave you unreliable data, or filled one out that had a tedious, terrible survey design. Both these experiences come from assuming that doing surveys is a quick task. People don’t put enough thought into designing a survey and suffer because of it. 

If you’re a school student doing surveys for your class project, it’s okay to not focus on survey design. But as the stakes get higher, those who don’t focus on good questionnaire design have that much more to lose. 

Organizations today have come to rely heavily on surveys, for all things starting from employee engagement to performance reviews. For a company, a well-designed survey can make all the difference. It can ensure that company resources are being dedicated to real issues in an efficient manner. 

The good news is that conducting a survey that delivers fruitful results is not that hard. If you are taking on the task of designing a survey for your organization, it is well worth your time to go through our survey design and analysis tips. 

Without further ado, here is the only guide you need to design a survey that will not only be easy for respondents to fill but also give you reliable insights. 

How To Design A Survey People Want To Fill

Nowadays, everybody can design a survey. Leading survey design tools like SurveySparrow have made it quick and easy to design your questionnaire. They also have survey templates that you can choose from and edit. 

The challenge then comes with the more qualitative decisions involved in doing a survey. How many questions should you ask? What kinds of questions should they be? Where to begin and how to end a survey? We’re here to help with a few survey design tips. 

1. Articulate A Specific Goal For Your Survey

Before we even get to the questionnaire, you have to know what you want out of it. This is the most important guideline for designing a survey: know your ‘why’. 

It’s not enough to think that you’re conducting an employee survey, because there are many kinds. Is it an employee engagement survey, or are you instead of trying to measure employee satisfaction? Are you really aiming to find out how your employees are communicating? There are many options. 

Knowing why you’re conducting your survey will guide you through every decision when it comes to survey design. Keep in mind exactly why you’re conducting this survey. 

2. Keep It Short And To The Point

When you are sending someone a survey, you are asking for their time. The biggest rule when asking for someone’s time is to show that you respect it. 

Even employees of your own company may be hesitant to spend their time answering a company survey. That’s because everyone is very possessive of their time. That’s why it’s so important to keep surveys brief and to the point. 

You may be tempted to ask a few extra questions to find out more about your employees. That’s a bad idea. It shows the respondents that you’re not focused and just aimlessly collecting data. You might also need an engaging survey software like SurveySparrow to create engaging surveys. If the surveys are boring, you’d literally have to wait an eternity for responses. 

Knowing what you want from your survey, as we said earlier, will help you decide which questions are needed. Don’t stuff an internal communications question in an engagement survey. It will only do harm. 

3. Break The Questions Down

One of the most common errors people make when designing a questionnaire is asking two questions in one. 

“Do you feel engaged and satisfied at work?” When you’re having a conversation with someone, it’s natural to do this. But in a survey, this can confuse respondents and give you unreliable data. 

Faced with such a question, a respondent will be confused about what to say. There may be some correlation between engagement and satisfaction, but they can still differ. 

It’s much better to break down the questions as much as you can. That way, respondents don’t feel confused, and you get precise results. 

4. Close-Ended Questions Are Your Friends

There are two types of questions in survey-design – open-ended and close-ended. An open-ended question is when you let the respondent express themselves on a text box. Close-ended questions, on the other hand, usually involve choosing between options. 

The choices in close-ended questions can either be multiple-choice or single choice. Either way, they are much better than open-ended questions for a survey. 

The simple reason for this is that close-ended questions yield concrete data. Using them, you can see your respondents’ answers in graphs and charts that help you derive insights. 

Open-ended questions are more useful at the end of a survey when you want to find out if there’s anything your questions haven’t already covered. 

5. Ease Into Asking The Toughest Questions

When you’re having a conversation with someone, do you start with, “How does it feel to have an abusive boss?” You don’t, of course. 

When it comes to conversation, we know some small talk is necessary to get to the deeper stuff. The same logic applies in a survey. 

If you’re asking questions where you want employees to go out of their way and be honest, don’t ambush them. First, ask easier questions. When they’re at ease, you can then present a tougher question. 

This is an important tactic for good survey design. The reliability of your data will depend on how honest your respondents are. Getting them, to be honest, requires some tact. 

6. Don’t Ask Leading Questions

This is standard advice given to journalists, but it is equally important in survey design, if not more. A leading question will sacrifice the reliability of your data and give you misleading results. 

A leading question is a suggestive question that hides an assumption that may not be true. For example, “When did you start feeling disengaged at work?” is a leading question. It assumes an employee felt disengaged at work. 

Such assumptions blur the real picture and give you fudgy data. An employee who never felt disengaged may come up with a date just to answer the question. It’s easy to see how such a question can easily derail your survey design. 

7. Avoid Using Absolutes

Human beings are complicated. We feel a lot of things in varying degrees of intensity. That is why answering in yes or nos is not always possible. If your survey forces respondents to do that, you will get unreliable results. 

Let’s take an example. “Do you feel appreciated at work?” This is a complicated question. Leaving respondents with just yes/no answers is a bad survey design. 

An employee may feel appreciated on certain days, but only depending on a manager’s mood. That shows appreciation is not a standard part of your work culture. You don’t want to miss out on such responses. 

Wherever possible, allow for the grey areas with options like ‘maybe’ or turn the question into an open-ended one. This will help respondents communicate more precisely and lead to more accurate survey results. 

How To Analyze Survey Results For The Best Insights

If you’ve gone through our tips on how to design a survey, it’s very likely that you will have some good-quality data in your hands. But getting data with good questionnaire design is only half the task. Knowing how to analyze it is a whole other ball game. 

At first look, your survey results will give you answers to the questions you’ve asked. But with these tricks, you’ll be able to make the most from your survey results. 

1. Begin With the Larger Picture

Before we get into a more advanced analysis of your survey results, it’s important to note down the basic stats from your survey. 

If you have a good questionnaire design, then you’ve asked the questions you are very curious to know the answers to. These answers can make for powerful statistics. 

Remember we said you need to know your goal? That will come in handy here. Did your survey intend to measure if customers liked your new design? Your survey results should be able to answer this right off the bat. 

It’s easy to get lost in the finer points of survey results. But we must make sure we don’t miss what’s right in front of our eyes. If 90% of your customers like the redesign, that’s big news!

2. Categorize Responses Into Meaningful Segments

Once you have the big results down, it’s time to get down in the mud. We will segment results based on the respondents, and get some powerful insights. 

For example, for a customer survey, the age of the customer is likely to be a meaningful factor. So filter the results for a certain age bracket (say, people in their 20s). SurveySparrow’s advanced filtering tools make it really easy to do this. 

Once you’ve applied the filter, you will get different results from your survey questions. Do 95% of your young customers like the redesign, but as they get older, people like it less? You have a youth-focused design. Does that align with your business goals? 

Categorizing responses based on important factors can reveal powerful results. They don’t just say that data is the new oil for nothing. 

3. Get Creative

Analyzing the results of a good survey design is not just about crunching numbers. To get the most out of your survey results, you need to be a little creative. 

Once you’ve identified the key factors, it’s time to think outside the box. You have all the data in front of you, so you can now test more interesting hypotheses. 

To do this, it’s good to explore your curiosity. Everyone thinks to check how employee attrition rates correlate with years of experience at the company. But maybe it also has a relationship with the gender of the employee. Who knows? 

It’s good to take these guesses and play around with the data. You never know what you might discover. An online survey tool like SurveySparrow gives you complete control over your results, making it easy for you to discover new insights. 

4. Don’t Underestimate The Power of Visuals

There’s a reason that survey results are often presented in graphs and charts. The visuals can communicate insights that you just can’t see in the raw data. 

When you are making visuals from your data, it’s useful to think about what kind of visuals will help your data shine. For example, a pie chart may be more useful in some cases than a bar graph. 

There are no blanket rules when it comes to analyzing results using visuals. As with any communication exercise, your intuition will guide you to the best choice. 

Wrapping Up..

With the rise of online tools, everyone can make a survey. But if you’re careless about survey design and analysis, then you lose out on the real power of surveys. 

It’s true what they say: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A bad questionnaire design gives you exactly that – unclear data that confuses instead of helping. Thankfully, it’s not tough to get surveys right anymore. 

SurveySparrow offers survey templates and analysis tools that guide you through making the most effective surveys. Moreover, questionnaires made using SurveySparrow receive over 40% more responses, giving you more data to tinker with. 

If you’ve decided to create a survey, you’re only one step away from having great insights. Invest in good survey design and analysis using SurveySparrow, and enjoy powerful insights that help you focus your efforts in the right areas. 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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