Smart Survey Design
Opening questions – The first few questions in the survey should be easy and interesting in order to calm any participants’ suspicions about the survey’s integrity. This allows the participants to build up confidence in the survey’s objective. In return, this may stimulate their interest and overall participation (Iraossi 2006, 74-78).
Question flow – The question sequence in the survey body should take on a flow of ideas and be geared towards the respondents’ abilities. After you have established the first general topic, all related questions should come up before a second topic is raised. It is a good idea to use “pages” in the online design to house each different section of the survey. Here you can raise one topic on one page and include the instructions/information for this section in the Page Description area. When you are then ready to introduce a new topic to the survey, you can create a new or second page to include that page’s description and purpose. Conditional or Skip Logic questions are also a good way to control the respondent’s flow or route through the survey. You can apply question or page skip logic to the survey when you want to guide respondents and exclude them from certain pages of questions that do not apply to them (Iraossi 2006, 74-78).
Location of sensitive questions – Some suggest that sensitive questions should not be included at the beginning of the survey. However, there are no set rules on this. If you do include sensitive questions at the beginning of the survey, then you may run into respondents rejecting the survey and exiting early. They may not have built up confidence yet in the survey’s integrity quite so early. Questions like demographics or personal information are usually best to introduce towards the end of the survey. This way, respondents are likely to have already developed confidence in the survey’s objective (Iraossi 2006, 74-78).
When designing your survey structure, the overall format and layout is important from beginning to end. A poorly organized survey may cause respondents to skip questions or completely opt out of answering your survey. It is good practice to begin your survey with an introduction that explains the survey’s purpose. Within the introduction, you may want to include the name of the organization conducting the survey, the confidentiality information, and how the data collected will be used. Many participants like some kind of assurance in regards to their responses; providing that kind of information before the survey starts can