Guidelines for Creating Online Surveys

Ccwonderwoman_1We all love to pretend we’re people we’re not. One of my fondest memories of my sister was the time she put on her Cinderella costume and refused to take it off for 2 days. (she was 32 at the time)

We’re also all easily influenced and swayed by suggestive language. “How fast were the cars going when they crashed” will get higher mph answers than “how fast were the cars going when the accident occurred”.

What does this have to do with guidelines for creating online surveys? Everything.

In an earlier example we looked at how people described their investment strategy. Were these people consciously lying? I don’t think so. But we all want to portray positive images of ourselves. The beauty of online surveys is – there is an anonymity to it. But sometimes we genuinely aren’t aware of our shortcomings. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking of guidelines for creating online surveys and how you use the results.

Guidelines for creating online surveys:

  1. Keep them as short as possible. The longer the survey is, the fewer people will fill it out.
  2. Let them know ahead of time approximately how long it will take.
  3. Start out with easier questions first.  Put more personal questions towards the end.
  4. Don’t use influencing language. Be very careful how you word your questions. Instead of “Is there anything offensive about this name” “how do you feel about this name – what images come to mind.”
  5. When possible – use open ended questions where you can get an actual written answer. This provides enormous insight into what people are really thinking and is a goldmine for keywords and copy ideas. (The trade off is it required more time and thinking – multiple choice answers are much easier and more likely to be filled out – so weigh the pros and cons of this option)
  6. Tell them why you are doing the survey. And even more importantly – tell them what you’re doing with the      information. Women love to give their opinion, but even more importantly, they love to be heard – let them know you heard their suggestions, opinions, or show them how you used their information in a positive way.
  7. 3 words – privacy, privacy, privacy – let them know clearly and up front who will be seeing their information and who it will be shared with.
  8. When possible – reward them for their time. It lets them know you appreciate the fact that they are taking time out of their busy schedules to help you.

Use these guidelines for creating online surveys and enjoy the valuable data they generate. But pay close attention to how you interpret this data.   If you get answers that surprise you – do more digging to find out what’s really going on. If you’re asking people to divulge information that may not portray them in a positive light – be extra careful how you read the results.

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