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Survey Design Pitfalls

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With a little practice, you can become an expert in survey design. No matter your level of experience, it’s always smart to consider a few best practices as you design your survey. You can learn from your own mistakes, of course, but it’s sometimes helpful to have a little advice to start with!

Watch out for the following warning signs as you build and review your surveys:

  1. The Long Questionnaire
    Long surveys tend to scare people at the onset and lower the response rate. What good are questions if you can’t get participants to answer? Ask only relevant questions, especially those that will help you to understand an aspect of your business that perplexes you. Use features like pre-population and branching to improve the quality of your data while reducing the number of questions on your survey.
  2. Unclear Instructions or Expectations
    Too often, the first question of a survey appears before there is any explanation about the purpose of the survey. Whether the survey is on a website or delivered in an invitation, it is very useful to start with an introduction. Use a Comment to add a short description toward the beginning to let participants know what the survey is all about and why they should respond. Comments can also introduce new sections and reset expectations as needed.
  3. Un-ending Open-ended Questions
    Open-ended questions are definitely great. They allow participants to freely express their opinions without any limits imposed by provided answer options. However, be wary of asking too many open-ended questions. Too many Text Boxes can prevent participants from completing the survey due to lack of time or their uneasiness in answering questions in detail. On your end, collecting data from open-ended questions can be a challenging, time-consuming, and even expensive affair. Use open-ended questions wisely and effectively.
  4. Multi-Mistake Multilingual Surveys
    While it is great to deploy a survey in multiple languages, make sure that the survey is thoroughly reviewed and edited by a professional proficient in that language. Deploying surveys without reviewing the text and the language can sometimes lead to an embarrassing error. Your audience will appreciate your translation effort even more when you go the extra mile to make sure it’s done right.
  5. The Ugly Survey
    Remember, an attractive survey gets more responses. Before launching, make sure that the survey and invitation, if you’re sending one, are aesthetically pleasing.