It’s no surprise that questions are an important part of building a survey. Making the right choice of questions in a survey will not only enable you to gather responses but also help you collect the most meaningful data for analysis.
Participants usually want to be helpful, and will generally complete your survey as a favor or if they understand the benefit. However, there is a limit to how much people want to help you, and how much time they have to offer. So, be sure to make the most of your questions.
Before designing your survey, take a few minutes to become knowledgeable about each type of question used in survey research.
Even Basic Question Types can help you get precise responses to your questions. For example, you can use Radio Button or Horizontal Radio if you have a small number of answer options. Or, you can jump to a Drop Down question if you have a long list of answer option to select from, such as Countries.
The following is a short description of Basic Question Types:
- Drop Down: Drop Down questions are useful when the participant is selecting only one answer option and has more than eight answer options to choose from. This keeps your survey looking compact. Drop Down questions are most useful when answer options are predictable.
- Radio Button: Radio Button questions are useful when the participant is selecting only one answer option and has eight or fewer answer options to choose from. The participant can view all options at once, and answers can be arranged in columns as well. You may also be interested in Horizontal Radio Buttons.
- Horizontal Radio: Horizontal Radio Button questions are useful when the participant is selecting only one answer option and has eight or fewer answer options. Horizontal Radio buttons lead to less blank space on the survey than using traditional Radio Button questions.
- Ranking: Ranking questions are useful when the participant is choosing multiple answer options in order of preference. Answer constraints can be added to help focus responses on a certain limited number of choices. For example, of eight choices, rank your top three.
- Rating Radio and Rating Drop Down: Rating Radio and Rating Drop Down can sometimes be used interchangeably, just as you might opt between Radio Button and Drop Down questions. These question types are useful when you want to assign a numerical value to answer options in order to analyze the final data. For example, if the participant is choosing from a scale of agreement options, you might make ‘Strongly Agree’ worth five, ‘Agree’ worth four, ‘Neutral’ worth three, ‘Disagree’ worth two and ‘Strongly Disagree’ worth one. If you do not assign a weight to an answer option, the system will read it as a null value.
- Rating Scale: Rating Scale questions are useful when the participant is assigning a numerical value to each answer option along a line. You may assign text labels on the low, middle, and high ends of the scale. This question type helps in reporting, where an average of each numerical response can be calculated. Two type of rating scales are available.
- Numeric Rating Scale
- Smiley Rating Scale
- Multiple Select Check Box: Multiple Select Check Box questions are useful when the participant is selecting multiple answer options from a list. You can also add answer constraints, making it mandatory to select an exact, minimum, or maximum number of answer options. It is possible to have answer options display over multiple columns, which is most useful when creating questions with many answer options.
- Text Box: Text Box questions allow the participant to respond to an open-ended question. The height and width of the text box can be adjusted and the character count can be changed to accommodate a maximum of 2,000 characters per question.To modify the Text Box size, click and drag the bottom right hand corner of the text box to the desired browser width and number of lines. You can also customize the type of answer allowed by choosing one of the following formats:
- General: This format allows the participant to enter any type of text.
- Currency: This format requires the participant to enter a number within a range that you set. You can choose to apply a currency symbol by selecting the check box and choosing a currency from the dropdown menu.
- Email: This format requires the participant to enter valid email addresses that have an @ sign and a period. You can also select the check box to have users enter their address twice for validation.
- Phone number: This format requires the participant to enter exactly 10 digits.
- Number: This format requires the participant to enter a valid number. You can also set a range to limit answer options between a highest and lowest value.
- Percentage: This format requires the participant to enter a valid number. You can also restrict answers to be within a given range, or choose to apply a percentage symbol with the check box provided.
- Social Security Number: This format requires the participant to enter a series of numbers in the ###-##-#### format.
- U.S. ZIP Code: This format requires the participant to enter exactly five digits.
- U.S. ZIP Code + 4: This format requires the participant to enter exactly nine digits.
- Custom: This option allows you to create a custom format for the text box. Enter ‘#’ for numbers and ‘@’ for alphabetic characters.
- Multiple Text Box: Multiple Text Box questions are useful when the participant is answering several related, open-ended questions. Enter your question text, and then select the number of text boxes you’d like to display. Use the controls provided to adjust the width of the answer text boxes, how many characters each will allow, and whether or not to display the number of characters remaining. The settings can be applied individually or to all answer text boxes. In the Text Box Properties Menu, you can also adjust how far apart the text boxes will be on the page, where the directional text will appear in relation to the text box, the question sequence (As Entered, Rotate, or Randomize) and the number of columns in which you’d like to display your text boxes.
- Date questions: Date questions are useful when the participant is choosing a date in response to a question. You can customize the format in which the date will appear, as well as a default date. Choose between no default date, a specified date or today’s date. Often, users will set a default date based on the date they estimate most participants will choose.