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Ensure your surveys give enough options

Earlier this week, I answered a brief survey from a Government body – correction, I tried to answer a brief survey but the questions stopped me.

For a series of items, you had the choice of yes (I want to get this) or no (I don’t want to get this).  And you had to answer yes at least one to have your survey accepted.

However, for three of the items I already have them. So my answer is neither yes nor no, leaving me in a quandary about finishing their survey.

I choose to answer no because I didn’t want duplicates but I wonder how much that has skewed their results? And how many other people in my position chose no?

When writing surveys and forms

It is really important to think about your questions from every angle to be sure people can complete your survey/form.

Making your questions easy to answer

I think it’s especially worth thinking about if you have made the answers black or white – can you be sure no one will want to answer grey?

exclude people if options are too few

Assuming only two currencies definitely excludes some people

If you’re asking for a gender, under 18/over 18 or in business/not in business, there is a clear either or response. However, as soon as you have a less concrete option, be careful to include that in your possible responses.

While ‘other’ or ‘unknown’ may seem weak answers, they do at least give people the option of completing your questions without getting stuck or making up answers.

And a ‘both’ or ‘all of the above’ answers give a lot more choice, too.


6 Responses to Ensure your surveys give enough options

  • probono says:

    There definitely needs to be better training when it comes to creating and implementing a survey in your business. The sad thing is that many of these businesses have no clue that the survey was not set up well and they go on to use the data collected. They’re often left wondering why they didn’t get the results that they had hoped for.

    • tashword says:

      I think you’re 100% correct, probono – so many people don’t realise their limitations or errors so keep on working with inferior results. It’s a bit scary that people could base business decisions on results that are absolutely meaningless due to a poorly worded question.

  • Joe Wells says:

    I agree with this post. I have attempted to complete surveys that weren’t worded correctly or were ambiguous. I don’t understand why these surveys even make it out to the public because the mistakes or unclear questions seem so obvious. And i agree with you probono and Tash, it is kind of scary that important business decisions could be base on such inferior information.

  • vida_llevares says:

    Companies should really be more strategic in making their surveys. We should maximize the returns we can generate from our surveys by tailor-fitting them to the market and to the type of business that we do.

    • tashword says:

      You’re right, Vida, there is strategy in running surveys (when, what to focus on, etc) but also within the actual surveys to make them meet the anticipated goals.

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