Henning, J. (2009). Less Really is More When it Comes to Response Scales. Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from http://blog.vovici.com/Blog/bid/18112/Less-Really-is-More-When-it-Comes-to-Response-Scales

Might be useful – http://blog.vovici.com/blog/bid/18261/Common-Rating-Scales-to-Use-when-Writing-Questions

Whilst designing my questionnaire, I feel it’s important to consider how I’m going to ask the questions. I don’t want to skew the answers which is why I won’t be putting any specifics down about what I’m asking people to rate.

First, our experience shows that respondents are far more willing to take and finish surveys that are visually simple and appear to require little effort. This leads to less fatigue and far greater completion rates.

This article recommends only having 3 options in your ratings, and this is why. It’s all about perception here. I can see why they’d recommend this.

I filled out a questionnaire yesterday for my experience of the London venue the o2 and each rating was a 10 point scale, there were lots of options and it was a long survey. They’d offered an incentive (a chance to win VIP tickets to any gig, and as an avid gig goer this was a big incentive) and they’d also stated how long the survey should take at the beginning (15 minutes).

I didn’t mind all the options, but I thought some of them were a bit pointless and that rating 1- 10 was silly. It either was or wasn’t satisfactory. I agree that the number of options should be kept to a minimum. This is also true on websites with forms – always keep questions to a minimum and you’re more likely to get someone to fill it in.

This said, I’m not sure if 3 options will be enough in the context of my survey, so I will probably limit it to 5.

Thus, our most negative option needs to sound very mild, making it less guilt-inducing. Our middle option needs to sound very positive, making it more acceptable as an option. Finally, our positive option needs to sound so stupendously, impossibly, incredibly tremendous that respondents understand to reserve it only for truly excellent experiences.

Obviously this applies to customer services, but I’m sure that the psychology still applies. This is why I’m so keen to really think about my wording – making sure it’s not leading etc.

Sometimes respondents will put their brain on cruise control while taking a survey, and simply click on the same option (often the top one) for every question. To overcome this, list the “middle” option first.

This seems like a good idea, it forces people to read the responses and think about their answers. It could also be confusing – for example, the scale not incrementing logically.

How to Write a Good Survey. (1998). Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from http://www.accesscable.net/~infopoll/tips.htm

Above all, your questionnaire should be as short as possible. When drafting your questionnaire, make a mental distinction between what is essential to know, what would be useful to know and what would be unnecessary.

Initially I was expanding on my idea, but now I’m stripping it back again to what I really want to know.

The article also recommends using simple words and relaxing your grammar. I think this is good advice, and intend to keep it quite informal anyway – no designer jargon. In fact, my survey won’t be mentioning design at all. It should be easy to keep it simple.

It is better to identify a problem during the pretest than after you have published the survey. Before sending a survey to a target audience, send it out as a test to a small number of people. After they have completed the survey, brainstorm with them to see if they had problems answering any questions. It would help if they explained what the question meant to them and whether it was valid to the questionnaire or not.

I will definitely be doing this. Getting my questionnaire to reach a lot of people is going to be a challenge in itself, but I think starting out by testing the survey itself is a very good idea.

Qualities of a Good Question. (n.d.). Retrieved on November 13, 2010 from http://www.statpac.com/surveys/question-qualities.htm

Does not ask the respondent to order or rank a series of more than five items. Questions asking respondents to rank items by importance should be avoided. This becomes increasingly difficult as the number of items increases, and the answers become less reliable.

Limiting this means I’m going to have to think of the 5 most important things I want to know.

This was just a brief look into creating surveys/questionnaires. I think I’ve got enough information to help design my simple questionnaire.