It’s been said that information is power. This simple cliché underscores the market control and business success that information yields.

And here’s the good news; beacuse of the internet, gathering actionable information is easier than ever. Creating an online survey is more easy than ever before.

However, no matter how great your online survey software is, there are still best practices for creating online surveys that yield actionable insights.

Here are a 12 tips that will ensure that you create your next survey correctly.

  1. Review the basic objectives of the study. What are you trying to discover? What actions do you want to take as a result of the survey?
  2. Visualize all of the relevant information items you would like to have. What will the report look like? What information do you need to make a decision?
  3. Rank order each topic in items 1 and 2 according to the value of the topic. List the most important topics first. Remember, you can’t solve the problem if you ask the wrong questions.
  4. Ask “how easy is it for the respondent to provide information on each topic?” If it is difficult, is there another way to obtain the information with another question?
  5. Create an unbiased sequence for the topics. Make sure that the questions do not bias the results of the next questions. Make sure that you don’t provide too much information or disclose the purpose of the study in a way that can create bias.
  6. Determine the question type that is best suited to answer the question and get the best information. Use open-ended text questions, dichotomous, multiple choice, rank order, scaled, or constant sum (ratio scale) questions as appropriate.
  7. Write the questions. You may need to write several proposed questions for each topic and select the best one.
  8. Sequence the questions so that they are unbiased. Keep step 5 in mind during this process.
  9. Repeat all of the previous steps to find any major holes. Having another person review your work is ideal.
  10. Time the length of the survey. A survey should take less than fifteen minutes. The best way to check is to have someone else take it and time themselves.
  11. Pretest the survey to 20 or more people. Obtain detailed feedback. What were they unsure about? Did they have questions? Did they have trouble understanding what you wanted? Did they take a point of view not covered in your answers or question?
  12. Revise your survey and pre-test again or start distribution.

So what do you think?

What tips would you add?

This post is part of the Online Surveys 101 series put together by Scott Smith Ph.D. Click here to see more.