How to Develop a Questionnaire

We are all familiar with how questionnaires are often used for conducting surveys about certain topics. We are also aware that main importance of a questionnaire is to aid the collection of data needed for a particular research study or project.

Questionnaires are developed with the intention of generating information from a large population of individuals (respondents). Such information will be interpreted by the researchers (or a third party, such as a statistician) to derive the results of such research study or project.

How to Encourage Respondents to Respond

In using questionnaires, it all goes down to how many actually provided an answer which can be considered useful to the research questionnaire.

However, developing a questionnaire which gains a high response rate is considered to be a huge challenge to its users. Such challenge can prove to be a real problem later on, if not addressed immediately.

Here are some approaches in encouraging your respondents to answer your questionnaire.

  • Understand how your respondents think. If you can at least have even the tiniest idea on how your respondents might respond to your questionnaire, then you can predict what approach you need to do.
  • Shorten your questionnaire. If your questionnaire is too long, your respondents might feel tired or bored, they might just mindlessly answer your questions.
  • Provide a reason. Give your respondents an idea as to why you are doing such survey. Let them know that you need their answers, and how you intend to use their answers.
  • Do a follow up. Doing a follow up email several days after sending the questionnaire (that is if the questionnaire has not yet been answered) will simply remind your respondents of what they need to do.
  • Keep it organized. Having an organized set of questions will reduce the chance of your respondents getting confused while answering.
  • Offer incentives. Honestly, who doesn’t love them? One of the best approaches to having a high response rate is offering the respondents incentives (e.g. free products, discounts, benefits, etc.)

How to Develop a Questionnaire

Developing a questionnaire itself is difficult. Still, there are simple and basic tips you can follow on how to develop an effective questionnaire. Here are some of them.

  • Know the goal of your questionnaire. Explain it to your respondents.
  • Know the most effective question type to use.
  • Formulate the questions you want to ask your respondents.
  • Pick the best way to administer the questionnaire. Identify the most effective way of administration (usually one with the highest response rate).
  • As mentioned earlier, don’t make your questionnaire too long.
  • Simplify the questions. Simple questions will be easily understood.
  • Include a few remarks. This includes instructions on how to answer the questionnaire, an explanation on how you intend to use the answers, among other things.
  • Make it look professional. A professional-looking questionnaire will most likely increase the chances of having a high response rate.
  • Review. This is your chance to spot errors, or mistakes. You can also add or omit questions as needed.
  • Pilot your questionnaire. Conduct a pilot survey on a few individuals before doing the actual survey.

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