A questionnaire is a research tool of sampling that consists of a set of questions prepared for a target audience. Sometimes it becomes necessary to research a particular topic where you want to conclude. You share this set of questions with the respondents. The purpose of a questionnaire can be to gain feedback, understand opinions, or collect data for research within a period. These collectively worked to identify grey areas and look for a scope of improvement. Invented in 1838 by the Statistical Society of London, the questionnaire is a good way of collecting data.
Steps involved in Questionnaire Design
1.Identify the main objective of your questionnaire
Your questionnaire should be aligned with your main objective. It will ensure that the responses help you with further analysis. Avoid reusing existing questionnaires, as they won't do justice to your result.
2. Define your focus group
It's logical to share the questionnaire with a specific group of people who understand the questions better. This focus group can maximize the robustness of your study by providing compelling insights and feedback.
3. Prepare a list of questions
Your questions should be phrased smartly, avoiding any ambiguities or misunderstandings. A misread or misinterpreted question will hamper your data, as the respondent is very likely to mark an option randomly. The use of technical terms or jargon is a big no as it can create confusion.
4. Design the order and overall layout of the questionnaire
Questionnaire design is vital to ensure that adequate data is collected. The response sheet can be generalized and interpreted easily. Optimized flow and overall layout of the questionnaire after learning from multiple drafts will help. Check for smooth question transitions. Check for proper placements of specific questions.
5. Pre-test your questionnaire
This step is of utmost importance for the factors like optimization and evaluation. Run a questionnaire pilot by testing it with a few people from your target respondents. It'll help you identify the issues with readability, engagement, or overall structuring.
6. Response Analysis
You have the data, and with the in-depth analysis, you can start drawing out conclusions to your research. You must analyze the pilot data to ensure that you receive the desired results.
Format of Questions
The format of questions prepared for the respondents depends significantly on the type of questionnaire. The first is an Explanatory Questionnaire, where the data is aimed to be collected qualitatively and is not statistically evaluated. The other is a Formal Standardized Questionnaire, where a specific hypothesis is tested, and data sought to be analyzed statistically.
Once you have the desired type of questionnaire, there are two questions to choose from:
Open Format Questions:
Also known as the open-ended questions, these questions do not have any predetermined set of answers, which allows the respondents to express themselves. The data received can be full of honest, unexpected, and insightful feedback or opinions.
Closed Format Questions:
Also known as closed-ended questions, these questions restrict the respondents to a set of predetermined answers. The data received is statistical and thoroughly analysed. These questions encourage participation as they can be completed quickly and easily answered.
Tips for a good questionnaire
Keep in mind the underlying assumption
The questionnaire should be prepared to target a particular group of people and then be shared with them for your response sheet to be practical. Make sure it is crystal clear, valid, and engaging.
The format of the questions depends on the method
It depends on the method of analysis you'll be using later on. For example, you'll need to use a different format between questionnaires with a statistical and probability method.
Avoid open-ended questions if possible
If you can categorize your options, always opt for the closed-ended questions. You'll get a faster and better response from the respondents.
Write down a research question and focus group
Spend quality time finding out the questions that cover all the subsections and angles of your research. Narrow down your target group and note down all the attributes of that group: demographic, level of education, or income. Always conduct background research before starting with your survey. It'll help you understand the results of previous researchers and avoid any pitfalls.
One or more time frames
Now that you have covered your questions across all dimensions and focus groups, you'll need to evaluate the number of time frames to conduct the survey. Some surveys are done among different group clusters, which will require multiple time frames.
Try to minimise the number of questions
Don't stuff in many questions in the questionnaire; rather than focus on the quality. People will be reluctant to see numerous questions. Also, you'll end up duplicating questions that are almost similar in meaning, thereby creating confusion.
Add some questions to capture attributes
After preparing a minimum set of questions, add some additional questions to capture the attributes of your focus group. Avoid any leading questions or non-neutral terminologies that can make respondents biased.
Do not use the 'Other' category
The respondents to any questionnaire are always in a hurry to complete it. Here, an option like 'Other' allows avoiding the question and moving on to the next one. All in all, it doesn't add any value to your response sheet.
Put open-ended questions first
If you need to ask open-ended questions, position them at the beginning. Again, make sure such questions are minimal. Otherwise, there's always a chance of the respondents skipping the survey.
Conduct a survey pre-test among a small circle of your target or ordinary group. It'll help you get a glance at the effectiveness of your questionnaire. It'll also allow you to make amendments, if any, before conducting the actual survey.
All in all, have a systematic approach while preparing a questionnaire, from identifying objectives to data analysis. Do check out multiple questionnaires creating tools and go ahead with the one that suits you the most.