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How to Craft Strong Survey Questions (Checklist + Survey Question Examples)

Heather Mueller
October 30, 2019
Min Read

Online surveys can provide your company with some amazing insights.

You can find out what customers love most about your products and services, and identify opportunities for improvement.

With the right mix of questions, you can gather compelling testimonials for your website or learn what your employees need to be more engaged and productive. These are just a few of the many benefits of surveys.

There’s just one catch: You have to ask the right survey questions. Failing to structure your survey correctly can result in incomplete, inaccurate, or faulty data.

To help, we pulled together several proven best practices you can use to craft great survey questions quickly, easily, and to great effect.

Checklist for Crafting Great Online Survey Questions

As you put together your online survey, use this quick-reference checklist to make sure each question meets important criteria.

Did you remember to vary the types of survey questions you ask?

Using different formats, such as matrix fields and multiple choice in addition to open-ended questions, will help keep boredom at bay and prevent people from abandoning your survey.

More importantly, using a variety of survey question types means you’ve formatted each one based on the kind of information you need to gather. When in doubt, take a look at successful survey question examples.

Are your survey questions presented in a visually appealing way?

This can have a big impact on how inclined recipients will be to take your survey. The reason is simple: Implementing a few survey design best practices will make your questions easier to digest and effortless to answer.

Will it be easy to answer questions on mobile devices?

By displaying only one question at a time, you can reduce the amount of time it takes for your audience to answer your survey questions on smartphones and tablets.

Will it be easy to answer questions on laptops and PCs?

Whether your audience is viewing your survey from a smartphone or computer, the last thing you want to do is make them scroll endlessly. Be sure to add a page break every four or five questions.

Is each survey question clear and concise?

Short, straightforward questions are key to a strong survey. Read your survey out loud and listen for any wording that causes you to pause or stumble over the words, then make adjustments. As a general best practice, the fewer words you can use to ask a question, the better.

Is each survey question free of jargon?

Industry terminology, acronyms, and buzzwords increase the risk that you’ll confuse respondents and cause them to abandon your survey. In addition to keeping your word count as low as possible, be sure to use simple language. Any time you can replace a long word with a short one, go with the latter.

Are all survey questions neutral in tone?

If your goal is to get accurate and reliable data, it’s essential that your questions are free of bias and don’t lead your respondents to one answer over another. Yes, it means you could get negative responses. But the alternative is data that tells you only what you want to hear, instead of providing the insights you need to make improvements.

Is each survey question unique?

Don't be tempted to ask the same survey question different times with different wording. It will only frustrate your users and decrease your chances of getting a high response rate.

Are questions customized to the audience?

The types of questions you use can vary significantly based on the industry you’re in and the format you’re using. For example, the questions you include in an employee engagement survey will be very different from those that would be used in a patient satisfaction survey or customer satisfaction survey.

Survey Question Examples to Ensure Strong Feedback

Each of the best practices listed above will warrant its own style of survey question. Need to make a complex topic clear and concise? Providing multiple choices will help people respond quickly. Need to get more detail on how customers feel about a particular product or service? Allowing respondents to type full sentences may be your best bet.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all format, most online surveys will incorporate many (and sometimes all) of the following types of survey questions.

Likert Scale Questions

The Likert scale lets respondents select an answer from a scale. For example, you might pose a statement and then have survey-takers select the option that most closely matches their sentiment. Typical options include:  “Agree,” “Somewhat Agree,” “Neutral,” “Somewhat Disagree,” and “Disagree.” This is a great survey question type to use when you need more than a simple “yes” or “no.”

You can adjust the options to fit the needs of your survey and the tone of your company. Here’s another example of how to phrase Likert scale answers.

online survey question example

Get This Template: Client Satisfaction Survey

Multiple-Choice Questions

By providing a predetermined collection of answers, you can make it remarkably easy for recipients to answer your survey question quickly—whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. Better yet, you’ll get dependable data that can be analyzed and put into action immediately.

Matrix Field Questions

This survey question type is a good option when you have multiple questions that can all be answered using the same set of possible responses. It will keep your survey clear and concise, and make it easier for people to provide answers quickly.

matrix field question example

Get This Template: Job Evaluation Survey

Open-Ended Questions

One of the best ways to ensure your survey is neutral and unbiased? Use an open-ended question. This option lets your survey takers provide authentic feedback in their own words.

These aren’t the only types of questions to incorporate into your survey, but they’re some of the most important to consider. Additional options include ranking questions, rating scale questions, and others covered in our ultimate survey guide.

Start Building Better Surveys

Crafting stronger survey questions can lead to higher response rates, more accurate data, and better business outcomes. Following the best practices outlined above will help you get the feedback and insights your business needs.

Formstack has everything you need to create your ideal mix of survey questions with ease. Start your free trial today—there is no risk and no commitment required.

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Heather Mueller
Heather is a website copywriter and digital content strategist who loves helping brands generate leads through the power of the written word—especially when using Formstack. Connect with Heather on Twitter @heathermueller.
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