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Configuring MaxDiff Questions

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About Configuring MaxDiff Questions

MaxDiff is dependent on setting up the features into coherent questions respondents can easily choose between. From this tool, you will also choose the format of the MaxDiff questions’ presentation, and more.

Qtip: If you would like directions for editing the whole MaxDiff survey’s look and feel, its demographic questions, or anything not directly related to the features and levels of a MaxDiff, see the Building Additional Survey Content support page.
Attention: If you want to go to the next section, do not click Save – click the section’s name instead. If you are editing an existing MaxDiff, do not click Save unless you have made vital changes and want to reset your MaxDiff, erasing all previous data! See Editing an Active MaxDiff for more details.

Where MaxDiff Questions are Configured

There are two different ways to get to the MaxDiff features and start editing them.

From the Survey tab, you can select Configure maxdiff questions in the MaxDiff Block.

the survey tab of a maxdiff project. the configure maxdiff questions button is highlighted

On the Overview tab, you can click Define Features to get to this page.

Define step with blue define features button

If you’ve already defined features, the button will change to a link that says Modify Features.

Define step with blue edit features link text


The first section you end up on is Features. Here, you’ll define your features.

Features selected to the left

Qtip: You can use HTML in the feature name fields to links. While Qualtrics Support cannot provide support on custom coding, you can always consult our community of dedicated users.

Features, also called attributes, are broader aspects of your product that you want to learn the importance of to your customers. For example, if you are running a shoe company, “Red high heels” is too specific; but “Formal wear options” and “Many colors to choose from” are better.

Enter the feature in the attribute or feature name field.

Name field at top of each attribute box

To add another feature, click Add Feature.

Add feature in blue at bottom of page

To remove a feature, click the minus sign ( – ) next to the feature’s name. If the minus sign is grayed out, you have the minimum number of features.

Minus sign next name of attribute

Adding Images to Features

Adding images to your MaxDiff can help your respondents visualize the experience and make more accurate trade-offs. Note that these images will replace the text description of a feature; e.g., you will no longer get “Strong laces” as an option, but a picture of an arrow pointing to shoe laces, which you can display the file name for if the image is clearly named.

  1. Click the image icon next to a feature.
    On the features page, next to every feature field is a tiny icon that looks like a sun behind a hill (a generic painting)
  2. Choose your library. This could be a group library if you’re sharing images with colleagues, but usually this is the library with your name on it.
    New window opens over the page. Left dropdown with libraries. Right green button for adding images
  3. Click Upload New Graphic.
  4. Choose an image from your computer.
  5. Select Display Image Label if you want to display the image’s name. In this example, it would be laces.png.
    Under Strong laces, there's now a tiny image of shoes with arrows pointing towards the laces. There's a name, laces .PNG, next to it. to the right above this is the option to display the name.
  6. If you don’t want this image after all, click the minus sign (  ) to remove it.
Qtip: The Save button will take you out of this page back to the Overview. Do not click save unless you are ready to finish editing your features. Instead, click a section on the left to proceed to the next section.


The Display section contains options for how MaxDiff questions are presented to respondents.

Numbered options in order of described. To the left, Display is selected

  1. Enter the instructions that will appear above every MaxDiff question.
  2. Determine the label for the “most preferred” option. Here, we want customers to indicate out of the list of features which is most important to them when making a purchasing decision.
  3. Determine the label for the “least preferred” option. Here, we want customers to indicate out of the list of features which is least important to them when making a purchasing decision.


In the Advanced section, you get to decide how many features respondents have to choose from at a time, and add an anchored MaxDiff question.

Number of Options Each Respondent Sees

The default values you see are chosen to optimize each respondent’s MaxDiff survey. Typically, we recommend that each feature is seen three times per respondent.

Advanced selected to left; in the middle, highlighting first two fields, which are described below

  • MaxDiff questions per respondent: How many questions each respondent sees. If you make this number too low, the field will turn red and changes cannot be saved.
  • Options per MaxDiff question: How many options the respondents have to rate against each other in each question. You can only select from the options given.

Qtip: As you adjust the number of questions or choices each respondent is presented with, the suggested number of respondents will change.

Respondents number bottom-right modified based on selections in middle

Include Anchored MaxDiff Question

An Anchored MaxDiff adds an additional follow-up question after each regular MaxDiff question. This follow-up question will be similar to this one: “Of the options shown, are they 1) all important, 2) only some important, or are 3) none important?” The answer to this follow-up question becomes part of the input to the MaxDiff model. It allows us to provide an anchored point in the report that differentiates the important and unimportant features.

After anchored maxdiff is selected at bottom of advanced page, a bunch of fields appear for you to fill out

  1. Select Include Anchored MaxDiff Question.
  2. Enter your question or instruction. For example, “Considering the items above, how many are important to you?”
  3. Enter the text for the “all choices are important to me” option.
  4. Enter the text for the “some choices are important to me” option.
  5. Enter the text for the “none of the choices are important to me” option.

When the respondent goes through the survey, the anchored question will appear after each MaxDiff question after the respondent marks a most and least preferred.

Maxdiff question followed by a new question

Editing an Active MaxDiff

If you are collecting data in your MaxDiff, it is best not to save edits to your features. As soon as you save changes – even aesthetic changes, such as question-wording – the MaxDiff analysis will reset. You will then have to collect more data to access your reports again.

The MaxDiff resets to accommodate for changing levels, features, question numbers, or choices. Changing question and choice numbers drastically changes the number of responses you need for your data to be valid, whereas changing the offerings themselves invalidates your previously collected responses because your respondents were making decisions based on something else. Thus, this feature helps ensure your data is top quality.

Once a MaxDiff analysis is reset, the previous data is irretrievable. Do not edit active MaxDiff projects unless it is absolutely necessary!