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What Are Questionnaires? Benefits, Importance and Examples

Kate Williams

14 May 2024

7 min read

Have you ever wondered how questionnaires drive insightful decisions? They are not just forms with a series of questions but a tool for understanding your audience. Imagine being able to precisely decipher the thoughts, preferences, and desires by tapping into their collective psyche. Well, it’s not just a possibility anymore. In this blog, we will look into how questionnaires can transform the way you make decisions.

What is a Questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a structured set of questions designed to gather specific information. These questions can vary widely, from multiple-choice queries to open-ended inquiries.

A questionnaire is like a targeted conversation on paper, online, or in digital format. It consists of a set of well-thought-out questions designed to gather specific information from people. These questions can cover a wide range of topics, helping researchers, businesses, and educators understand opinions, preferences, behaviors, or facts.

Now, are you wondering “Isn’t that what a survey does?”. If so, let us tell you the difference. While surveys and questionnaires are often used interchangeably, they refer to completely different aspects of data collection.


A questionnaire is a set of structured questions designed to gather specific information from respondents. It’s the tool used within a survey to collect data.

A survey, on the other hand, is a broader research method that involves collecting and analyzing data from multiple respondents. Surveys can include various tools such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and observations.

You can create engaging conversational questionnaires with advanced survey platforms such as SurveySparrow. Once you create questionnaires, you can collect feedback, analyze data, and act upon the insights effortlessly.

Interior Design Client Questionnaire


To create these kind of questionnaires, Sign up here…

Now since that’s clear, let’s get going.

Characteristics of a Good Questionnaire

A good questionnaire must be clear, concise, and unbiased. The most important aspect is the ease of understanding the questions. Here are some points you should consider while creating one:

1. Clarity: Questions should avoid jargon or ambiguity. Respondents must easily understand what is being asked.

2. Relevance: Each question should directly contribute to the research objective. Irrelevant questions can confuse participants and dilute the data quality.

3. Simplicity: Use simple language and straightforward sentence structures. Complicated questions can lead to misinterpretation.

4. Objectivity: Questions should be neutral and unbiased, avoiding leading or suggestive language that might influence respondents’ answers.

5. Conciseness: Be precise. Long, complex questions can overwhelm respondents. Aim for brevity while ensuring the question captures the necessary information.

6. Specificity: Questions should focus on one topic at a time. Try not to combine multiple ideas into a single question.

7. Structured Responses: Offer clear response options. Whether multiple-choice, Likert scale, or open-ended, structured responses aid in easy analysis.

8. Pilot Testing: Always conduct a pilot test before deploying the questionnaire widely. This helps identify confusing questions or response options, ensuring clarity for all participants.

9. Consideration of Respondent Perspective: Put yourself in the respondents’ shoes and frame questions from their point of view. Questions should be relevant and relatable to the participants, encouraging honest responses.

10. Adaptability: Questionnaires should be adaptable to diverse formats (online, paper, interviews) and audiences. Flexibility ensures broader participation and diverse insights.

And if you’re looking for something to make your life easier, pre-designed survey templates are available online.

Types of Questionnaires

Yup, they come in various shapes and sizes! Why? Because they must cater to different research objectives and needs. Here are the most common types:

1. Structured Questionnaires

These questionnaires have fixed, predefined questions with specific response options. They are ideal for quantitative research, providing standardized data for easy analysis.

Example: They are ideal for quantitative research, providing standardized data for easy analysis.

2. Unstructured Questionnaires

Open-ended questions in unstructured questionnaires allow respondents to express their thoughts freely, providing detailed qualitative insights.

Example: Feedback forms with sections for comments and suggestions.

3. Semi-Structured Questionnaires

These questionnaires balance structured and unstructured formats, with both closed-ended and open-ended questions that provide quantitative and qualitative data.

Example: Employee feedback surveys with a mix of multiple-choice questions and comment boxes.

4. Dichotomous Questionnaires

They present questions with only two response options – typically ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They are straightforward and yield easy-to-analyze data.

Example: Health assessment forms asking whether a symptom is present or absent.

5. Multiple Choice Questionnaires

Participants choose from a list of predefined options. They are versatile and suitable for various topics, allowing respondents to select the most relevant answer.

Example: Market research surveys asking respondents to choose their preferred product features.

6. Likert Scale Questionnaires

Likert scale questions are used to measure attitudes and opinions through a series of statements where respondents indicate their level of agreement or disagreement on a scale.

Example: Employee engagement surveys assessing satisfaction levels on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.

Read More: Best Survey Scale Examples

Types of Questions

The type of questions you use influences the data you collect. It is extremely important to keep the respondents on their toes (or, at least not bored!) if you want to get honest data.

1. Open-Ended Questions: These give respondents autonomy. They can answer the questions in their own words. They provide qualitative, detailed insights, ideal for understanding opinions and experiences.

“What improvements would you suggest for our service?”

2. Closed-Ended Questions: Closed-ended questions offer specific response options. This limits answers to predefined choices. They yield quantitative data, making analysis easier.

“Did you find the product helpful? (Yes / No)”

3. Multiple-Choice Questions: Multiple-choice questions present respondents with several answer options. They are versatile and suited for various topics, ensuring specific responses.

“Which of these social media platforms do you use?”
A) Facebook
B) Twitter
C) Instagram
D) LinkedIn
E) Other

4. Likert Scale Questions: They measure the intensity of agreement or disagreement on a statement. Respondents choose from a scale, offering nuanced insights into opinions or attitudes.

 “On a scale from 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with our customer service? (1 – Very Dissatisfied, 5 – Very Satisfied)”

5. Matrix Questions: Matrix questions group related items together using a common scale, making it easy to assess multiple aspects of a single topic.

“Please rate the following attributes on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 – Poor, 5 – Excellent):”
A) Product Quality
B) Customer Support
C) Delivery Time

Read More: 10 Essential Customer Experience Questions to Boost Your Business

Objectives of a Questionnaire

They are powerful tools that help gather valuable information to make informed decisions.

1. Gathering Specific Information

This fundamental goal requires researchers to design precise questions that collect focused and directly relevant data in their research area. For instance, a questionnaire that is built to collect consumer preferences for eco-friendly products.

2. Understanding Perspectives

Questionnaires are useful for understanding individuals’ and groups’ perspectives, opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Responses provide insight into specific issues and topics.

3. Measuring Satisfaction and Feedback

Businesses and service providers often use questionnaires to measure customer satisfaction levels and gather feedback. These surveys help identify areas of improvement, ensuring better products or services. Customer satisfaction surveys in the hospitality industry evaluate room cleanliness, staff conduct, and the overall guest experience.

4. Identifying Patterns and Trends

By analyzing patterns across a sample, commonalities or deviations can be observed. For example, surveys analyze shopping patterns among different age groups and identify trends in online versus in-store purchases.

5. Evaluating Customer Loyalty

Customers can build or break an enterprise’s credibility. By sending out questionnaires you can understand their preferences and needs and act accordingly. Loyalty surveys are sent to long-term customers, measuring their likelihood to recommend the brand to others and reasons for their loyalty.

Importance of Questionnaires

Structured Data Collection: Ensures organized and uniform data gathering for systematic analysis.
Efficient Data Analysis: Enables quick quantification and analysis of responses, aiding prompt conclusions.
Wide Applicability: Versatile tool applicable in various fields, from healthcare to marketing.
Cost-Effectiveness: Affordable method for reaching a large audience without extensive expenses.
In-Depth Insights: Allows exploration of intricate details, uncovering attitudes, preferences, and behaviors.

How to Make a Questionnaire


#1 Define Clear Objectives

Start with a clear idea of your goals. Have a detailed outline of the purpose. If you are designing a customer satisfaction survey for a restaurant, the objective could be to assess food quality and service experience.

#2 Identify Target Audience

Your target audience decides the course of your business. Tailor questions to suit the characteristics, preferences, and behaviors of your target respondents. Questions for a teenage audience regarding smartphone usage would differ from those for an elderly demographic.

#3 Choose Appropriate Question Types

Select question types like multiple-choice, Likert scale, or open-ended based on the nature of the information you need. When collecting data, use multiple-choice questions for demographics and Likert scale questions for attitudes or satisfaction.

#4 Keep Questions Clear and Concise

Word vomit should be avoided when you build a questionnaire. Formulate questions using simple language to avoid confusion. Be specific and avoid jargon. Instead of “Evaluate the ergonomic aspects of our product,” ask “How comfortable do you find our product to use?” Don’t you think this will make more sense to a general section of the audience?

#5 Ensure Logical Flow

We all know How much of a menace unstructured data is. Just think of that pile of files lying unattended at “that part” of the office! Organize questions logically, starting with general or easy-to-answer ones, followed by more complex or sensitive queries.

You can begin with demographic questions before moving on to opinions or preferences to maintain a smooth flow.

#6 Use Neutral Language

Frame questions in an unbiased manner. Avoid leading or loaded language that might influence responses. It’s always better to ask “How would you rate the quality of our services?” instead of “Don’t you agree that our services are excellent?”. (Well, you may be the best, but why not let the customers do the talking.)

#7 Encourage Honest Responses

Assure anonymity and confidentiality to encourage respondents to provide honest feedback. Include a statement ensuring that responses will be kept confidential and used for research purposes only.

#8 Test and Refine

As said above,  conduct a final review of the questionnaire before wide distribution. Make any necessary adjustments based on feedback or further testing. Check for grammatical errors, question clarity, and proper sequencing before launching the survey.

Pros and Cons

Advantages of Questionnaires

Let’s analyze why questionnaires are so popular.

Efficiency: Collect responses from many people at once, saving time and effort.

Cost-Effectiveness: They are a cost-effective data collection method compared to interviews or focus groups.

Anonymity Encourages Honest Responses: Respondents often feel more comfortable expressing their true opinions in questionnaires, especially when their anonymity is guaranteed.

Longitudinal Studies: Questionnaires facilitate longitudinal studies, allowing researchers to track changes in attitudes, behaviors, and opinions over extended periods.

Disadvantages of Questionnaires

Limited Depth of Responses: Questionnaires frequently limit response options, hindering participants from fully expressing nuanced or complex opinions.

Potential for Biased Responses: Respondents may provide biased data due to social desirability bias or question wording.

Difficulty in Interpreting Open-Ended Questions: Analyzing open-ended questions can be time-consuming and subjective, requiring manual interpretation and categorization of responses.

Data Security and Privacy Concerns: Online questionnaires may raise concerns about data security and privacy breaches, especially when collecting sensitive information. This is why you should always opt for safe and secure platforms that ensure data security

Wrap Up!

Questionnaires are essential tools for gathering valuable insights efficiently and cost-effectively. But, what makes them indispensable? Their simplicity, efficiency, and versatility. Questionnaires remain the cornerstone of informed perspectives and strategic choices by embracing a structured approach and recognizing limitations, whether shaping research, refining products, or seeking public opinions.

And, before you leave, why not give SurveySparrow a spin? It won’t even cost you a penny to try!

Kate Williams

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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