How to Create Better Surveys

Avoid the commonly made mistakes when creating your surveys

Surveys are a great way to collect data points from our users. They can be used to understand user attitudes, improve current experiences, guide future experiences, and much more. Surveys are fairly easy to create, and cheaper than conducting in-person interviews. Recently they have become easier than ever with tools such as Survey Monkey and Google Forms.

It might be easy to create a survey, but creating a great survey is another story. I’ve noticed some serious mistakes being made when it comes to surveys; even with some big brands.

Don’t Ask for Feedback Before Delivering the Experience

Would it make sense if I were a car salesman at a Lexus dealership and I asked how you would rate the handling in a BMW i8 before you had a test drive? What do you think your answer would be? You’d probably tell me you don’t know yet.

So why is it that I see mobile applications and websites asking for user feedback before the user has even had the change to have an experience? All this does is make the user feel bothered and annoyed. And if it’s a mobile app, the user will probably think you just want a positive review to rank higher in search results in the app store.

Don’t ask for feedback on an experience until you have provided the experience to that user. You can do this by ensuring what ever tool you use only shows upon a certain amount of return visits, or after a specific action is taken.

Avoid Double Negative Questions

“Do you like not being able to rate videos with stars instead of thumbs up and down?” Could you understand that question the first time you read it? Your users should not have to re-read a question in order to understand it. By using double negative, the user might have to read the question more than once, and might potentially still leave the opposite answer of what they really meant. We could easily rephrase the question above to “Do you like rating the videos with thumbs up and down or do you prefer rating with stars?”. But even here we are asking a tricky question.

Avoid Double Barreled Questions

The previous question was still flawed because we asked two things in one question. Another example of this would be: “Do you like the new flavor of Lays Potato Chips, and do you like to have Lays Potato Chips with soda?” Have you ever been asked two questions by a friend at the same time? What happens? You answer one of the questions, and then by the time you finish answering, you forget what the other question was and you have to ask again or even worse, you completely forget. Always break up your questions where possible and try to only ask one question at a time.

Remember That Negative Feedback is Sometimes Good Feedback

Don't forget that at the end of the day constructive feedback could come in the form of positive or negative criticism. What makes it good feedback is the fact that it is constructive and actionable.