Designing Surveys: 13 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes – Part II

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Designing Surveys: 13 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes – Part II

Designing Your Survey: 13 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes

In part one of this series, we talked about the first six tips you want to utilize to avoid common mistakes when you are designing surveys.  Now let’s jump into the final seven tips in the second part of this blog series.

Reduce the Number of Answer Options

One of the quickest ways to frustrate a respondent is to offer too many answer options to a question.  If there are too many options, they will lose focus and your data will suffer.  You need to provide only enough options to gather the information you are looking to collect. Consider splitting up these questions if you need to.

Ensure You have a catch-all

This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above.  While you don’t want to have too many answer options, you also don’t want to miss a potential answer.  The best way to handle this to ensure you include an “other” or “none of the above” type response to your multiple-choice questions. Missing this step may “force” respondents to select an answer that is not true.

Watch Your Survey Length

Want people to complete your survey?  Make sure it isn’t too long.  The longer the survey the more likely respondents are to become fatigued and lose interest in the survey, causing a higher dropout rate.  You want to aim for around 20 questions or less.

Ensure Answers Are Mutually Exclusive

Each answer should be distinct from one another.  If they aren’t, your respondents may be confused or need to select multiple answers to be truthful, but won’t have that option. If your answers are not exclusive your data quality will suffer.

Keep Your Questions Specific

When you are designing your survey, you should have a clear goal on the information you are trying to gather from your respondents.  Avoid questions and/or phrasing that distract from that goal or don’t the specific information you are looking for.

Keep Your Rating Scales Well-Defined

Respondents can interpret rating scales differently from one another.  One person might thing something is “Great”, while a different person who had the same experience might rate it as “Good”.  Be sure if you are using a rating scale to have a best and worst option and evenly space the other rating options between the two.  Making it a five or seven-point rating scale can simplify this.

Skip the Jargon

Respondents may not understand specific industry terminology, so either avoid using them or clearly define them.


Did you miss part one of the series? Read it here.

If you are planning on developing a survey, you’ll want to download our eBook, Getting The Best Results: Best Practices in Survey Design, to be sure you create the best survey that will generate the best results.

Download the eBook