Questionnaire design is one of the most difficult tasks in market research. It’s also one of the most important.
Below we’ve outlined 7 key steps to writing successful questionnaires:
1. Decide what needs to be found
Step 1 is for the researcher to outline what information is needed in order to meet the objectives set out in the proposal and research brief.
2. Create a rough draft of the questions
The researcher now needs to make a list of every possible question that could be used in the questionnaire. It’s important to be as comprehensive as possible at this stage and not worry about things such as phrasing.
3. Refine the questions
The aim now is to edit and improve the questions so that they make sense and result in the right answers.
4. Decide the format of response
The response format is just as important as the question – whether it be a pre-coded list of answers or an open-ended question to allow verbatim comments. Thinking about the answers will also help in refining the questions.
5. Order the questions appropriately
The order of the questions is crucial to ensure a successful questionnaire. They should follow logically and flow effortlessly. Keep the simpler questions at the start to ease the respondent in, and leave the more difficult or sensitive ones to the end. Brand awareness questions should first be asked unprompted and then prompted.
6. Confirm the questionnaire layout
This step involves formatting the questionnaire and providing clear instructions to the interviewer. Include a powerful opening, routings and probes. Leave enough space for answers to be written and clearly separate response codes.
The final step is all about testing. No more than 20 interviews will be needed at this stage to check that the questionnaire works. Ideally, the questionnaire should be tested using the same method as will be used when it goes to field (over the phone if telephone interview, etc). The aim at this stage is to identify any changes that are necessary before it’s rolled out.