Writing Effective Questions

Tips on creating questions designed for accurate responses

Updated over a week ago

Writing effective questions is one of the most important and difficult parts of creating a survey. If questions are not written to be concise, clear, and unbiased you could find yourself with answers that can't be trusted.

Follow these best practices to ensure your questions are successful

Increasing Response Rates

  1. Be brief. The longer it takes for a respondent to read and understand the question, the less likely they are to respond. Be sure the use the most concise version of your question while still making it clear.

  2. Use closed-ended questions. Yes/No, Single Select, and Rating questions are examples of "closed ended" questions where the respondent is simply choosing an answer from a list you provide. These questions types will give you higher response rates than freeform questions where the someone has to type in a response.

  3. Keep the survey short. Only ask as many questions as are required to achieve your survey goal. The longer the survey the more likely people are to abandon before answering all questions.

  4. Use branching logic. Use our branching logic to ensure you're asking relevant questions based on their previous responses. For example, if you asked the Yes or No question: "Is there was anything we could improve about your experience today?" use branching logic to ask the question "What could we improve?" if they selected yes, rather than showing a question to everyone "If yes, what could we improve?"

Avoiding Bias

  1. Avoid leading questions. Try to write questions that are neutral and don't imply anything. For example asking "How helpful or unhelpful did you find our support website?" is a better question than "How helpful or unhelpful did you find our fantastic support website?"

  2. Balance choices
    When creating the options for someone to select, make sure you provide a balanced set.

    Example: How helpful or unhelpful did you find our support website?

    Unbalanced choices:

  • Incredibly helpful

  • Very helpful

  • Mostly helpful

  • Somewhat helpful

  • Not helpful

    Notice only 1 of the 5 choices allows then to say the website was not helpful

    Balanced Choices:

  • Very helpful

  • Helpful

  • Neither helpful or unhelpful

  • Unhelpful

  • Very unhelpful

3. Provide simple, exhaustive options. Make sure the options you list include all of the common answers and consider adding an "other" option to capture responses not covered by your list.

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