In my last post I described how to use question language that is appropriate for your audience when designing customer market surveys or conducting online polling research. This is a great way to ensure you obtain meaningful results and reduce one source of survey design error. Two additional concepts- relevancy and competency- are factors in questionnaire design that have consequences for the validity of your results as well. This two-part series will help you design survey questions that take into account both of these essentials.
Designing items that are relevant for your audience is necessary in order to write good survey questions. This may seem self-explanatory, but many surveys I see are actually all over the place with regard to content. Some companies send out “omnibus” surveys, which may ask what you ate for dinner yesterday and what you bought for Christmas last year in the same questionnaire. An omnibus survey is one that covers a variety of topics, often because multiple groups are sharing the cost of the survey forcing the focus to be spread out. It is better to focus a survey respondent’s attention on the relevant information you’re attempting to gather (usually one or two concepts).
Stick to your theme! It is tempting to include every question you can think of in a market survey or public opinion poll, but you may end up with market research survey results that are “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Heaps of data that contain little insight can amount to wasted time and effort for all involved. If you send out a survey with the word technology in the invitation and title, make sure you include questions that relate to the main concept throughout your survey. You want usable data and actionable information; you can get both by keeping your focus (and helping respondents do the same).