Questionnaire Guide: Definition, Types, and How to Design

This blog aims to help readers master the art of questionnaire development by providing detailed explanations, examples, and tips.

Author

Godi Yeshaswi

Date

February 29, 2024

Did you ever think about how questionnaires contribute to informed decision-making? They aren't just sets of questions but instruments to understand your audience. Questionnaires play a crucial role in research by efficiently gathering relevant information. Before developing a questionnaire for your study, it is essential to understand its benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will explore how questionnaires have the potential to revolutionize your decision-making process.

What is a Questionnaire?

A questionnaire serves as a research tool consisting of a series of questions to gather valuable information from participants. It may include written or verbal questions presented in an interview-style format. Questionnaires can be qualitative or quantitative and can be conducted through various mediums, such as online, phone, paper, or face-to-face interactions, without necessarily requiring the presence of a moderator.

Questions in questionnaires can be categorized as either open-ended or closed-ended. Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words, providing as much or as little detail as they wish. Closed-ended questions present respondents with a predetermined set of responses to choose from.

What’s the Difference Between a Survey and a Questionnaire?

Surveys and questionnaires, as terms, are often used interchangeably.

A survey involves gathering data from a group of people to gain insights. While surveys can utilize questionnaires, they don't always rely on them.

On the other hand, a questionnaire is simply a list of questions distributed to a specific audience. Essentially, a survey is the overall task being conducted, whereas a questionnaire is the tool for carrying out that task.

In essence, a questionnaire alone doesn't yield much; its effectiveness lies in its integration into a survey, where it becomes instrumental in generating results.

Also read - Survey vs Questionnaire

Types of Questionnaires

A questionnaire is a valuable tool for collecting firsthand information from a large audience. It can be divided into two main types:

1. Descriptive Questionnaire

  • A descriptive questionnaire aims to document the extent of a specific topic or issue within a particular population. It focuses on what currently exists.
  • Questions in this type of questionnaire typically inquire about the number of people engaging in certain behaviors or holding specific opinions.
  • For instance, a descriptive questionnaire could be used to assess the prevalence of smartphone usage among teenagers in a particular region, aiming to understand how many adolescents own smartphones and how frequently they use them.

2. Analytical Questionnaire

  • An analytical questionnaire is designed to investigate and explain the relationships between different concepts. It seeks to understand why certain situations occur.
  • This type of questionnaire usually examines the connections between two or more variables and is utilized in theory development and hypothesis testing.
  • For example, an analytical questionnaire might investigate the correlation between social media usage and self-esteem levels among college students, exploring how different social media engagement patterns influence individuals' perceptions of themselves.

Types of Questions in a Questionnaire

The questions can also be divided into two categories in both descriptive and analytical questionnaires. These are:

Open-Ended Questions (Unstructured)

Questions that enable participants to express their thoughts and opinions freely are called open-ended or open-format questions. Unlike closed-ended questions, these inquiries do not offer predetermined response options, allowing respondents to share their perspectives in their own words. Open-ended questions often yield genuine, insightful, and occasionally surprising insights. Placing such questions at the end of a questionnaire tends to draw accurate feedback and valuable suggestions from participants.

Example: In your own words, how did the latest movie/TV show you watched impact your emotions or perspective?

Close-Ended Questionnaire (Structured)

Closed-ended questions, also known as closed-format questions, offer respondents multiple options, allowing them to select only one answer. This type of questionnaire is particularly beneficial for initial analysis. With a predetermined set of answers, closed-ended questions facilitate calculating statistical data and percentages across different categories. They are particularly effective in gathering opinions about products, services, and sometimes even companies in a streamlined manner.

Closed-ended questions designed to gather precise statistical information can be categorized into seven types as follows:

1. Leading Questions

These are questions that guide people to answer in a specific way. The answers to leading questions are usually similar because they are designed to get opinions within certain limits.

Example: "Don't you agree that the movie's plot was intriguing?"

2. Importance Questions

These questions ask respondents to rate how important something is on a scale, often from 1 to 5. They help understand what people consider significant and useful for making important business decisions.

Example: "On a scale of 1 to 5, how important do you think the character development is in this TV show?"

3. Likert Questions

These questions measure how much people agree or disagree with a statement. They are useful for understanding customers' opinions about a topic, product, or service.

Example: "Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the statement: 'The special effects in this film were impressive.'"

4. Dichotomous Questions

These questions only allow for a "yes" or "no" answer. The drawback is that there's no middle ground between these two options.

Example: "Did you find the humor in this sitcom to be enjoyable?"

5. Bipolar Questions

These questions offer two opposite answers on a scale, and respondents choose a point between them to show their opinion.

Example: "Please indicate your preference between action-packed scenes and heartfelt moments in movies."

6. Rating Scale Questions

These questions ask respondents to rate something on a scale from 1 to 10 or from "poor" to "good." They usually have an even number of choices to prevent a neutral response.

Example: "Please rate your overall satisfaction with the sound quality of this music album on a scale of 1 to 10."

7. Buying Propensity Questions

These questions aim to understand if customers are likely to buy a particular product or service in the future. They help marketers gauge customer needs and predict purchasing behavior.

Example: "How likely are you to subscribe to this streaming service in the next six months?"

Close Ended vs Open Ended Questions - Download Infographic

Importance of Questionnaires

The significance of questionnaires cannot be overstated in research, feedback, and control processes. Just as raw materials are essential for constructing a house, questions are crucial for a survey to be complete.

A questionnaire is a valuable instrument for gauging many individuals' attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, preferences, opinions, and intentions regarding one or more specific subjects.

Advantages of Questionnaires

Simple Design and Understanding

Questionnaires are straightforward tools for collecting and analyzing data quickly. Designing them is uncomplicated once the research objective is clear. Respondents find it easy to comprehend the questions and provide genuine responses. The consistent set of questions ensures ease in coding and analysis for researchers.

Accessible to a Wide Audience

Questionnaires allow researchers to reach a large number of people efficiently. Whether through mail or online platforms like the internet, questionnaires enable cost-effective data collection from geographically dispersed individuals.

Elimination of Bias

Self-administered questionnaires reduce researcher bias since respondents fill them out independently. Unlike face-to-face interviews, there's minimal interference from researchers, ensuring unbiased responses and valid outcomes.

Adequate Time for Responses

Questionnaires afford respondents ample time to consider and answer thoughtfully. Respondents can fill them out at their convenience, ensuring full attention and the opportunity to revise answers if necessary.

Preservation of Confidentiality

For sensitive or personal topics, self-administered questionnaires maintain respondents' confidentiality. Respondents feel more comfortable expressing their views without fear of identification, ensuring honest responses.

Ease of Data Compilation and Analysis

Questionnaires provide structured and easily compiled data for researchers. The straightforward format allows for convenient analysis, comparison, and presentation using charts, tables, or graphs.

Limitations of Questionnaires

Complexity of Questions

While most respondents understand questions easily, some may find certain questions complicated. These complex questions aim to extract specific information but can confuse respondents, requiring personal assistance from researchers, which is often impractical.

Lack of Control Over Respondents

Researchers face difficulty ensuring that the intended individuals or institutions complete questionnaires. Delegation to inappropriate respondents can result in inaccurate data collection, as there is no control over who fills out the questionnaire.

Risk of Invalid Responses

Questionnaires collect data in a one-time process, making it challenging for respondents to provide fresh perspectives. Rarely do researchers confirm responses with participants, leading to the possibility of invalid responses and undermining data accuracy.

Low Response Rates

Questionnaires often receive low response rates due to the task's time-consuming and occasionally tedious nature. Response rates as low as 5 to 10% are common, compromising the reliability of the questionnaire's findings.

Requirement of Respondent Education

Respondents need a certain level of education and awareness to answer questionnaires effectively. Lack of education may hinder their ability to provide accurate responses.

Cultural Differences in Interpretation

The wording of questionnaires may carry different meanings across cultures, making standardization challenging.

Potential for Misunderstanding

Researchers may struggle to interpret respondents' behavioral expressions accurately. Misunderstood questions or irrelevant answers can complicate data analysis.

How to Design a Questionnaire?

When designing a questionnaire, it is crucial to pre-empt the method used to analyze the data collected.

Questionnaire Design

Determine the Scope of Your Research

Before designing a questionnaire, it's essential to clearly define the research objectives and the specific topics to be addressed. For example, conducting a customer satisfaction survey for a restaurant could include evaluating food quality, service experience, ambiance, and overall value for money.

Keep It Simple

Use clear and concise language in the questionnaire to ensure respondents easily understand questions. For instance, instead of asking, "Please elucidate on the factors influencing your purchasing decisions," simplify the question to, "What factors influence your purchasing decisions?"

Ask One Question at a Time

Avoid asking compound questions that contain multiple inquiries within one sentence. For instance, instead of asking, "Do you enjoy shopping for clothes and accessories?" separate it into two questions: "Do you enjoy shopping for clothes?" and "Do you enjoy shopping for accessories?"

Provide Flexible Options

Offer respondents the opportunity to provide additional comments or choose "other" options when their preferences may not align with predefined response categories. For example, in a survey about preferred leisure activities, include an "Other" option where respondents can specify activities not listed in the provided choices.

Choose Between Open and Closed-Ended Questions

Tailor the question format based on the type of information needed. For instance, in a survey about favorite movie genres, closed-ended questions could include options like action, comedy, drama, etc. On the other hand, an open-ended question could ask respondents to describe their favorite movie genre and why they enjoy it.

Understand Your Audience

Customize the questionnaire to match the characteristics and preferences of the target audience. For example, when surveying elderly individuals about their healthcare needs, use simple language and avoid technical medical terminology to ensure clarity and comprehension.

Sequence Questions Thoughtfully

Arrange questions logically, starting with general inquiries before progressing to more specific or sensitive topics. For instance, in a survey about job satisfaction, begin with questions about overall work experience before addressing topics like salary or workplace relationships.

Select the Right Tool

Choose a survey platform that meets the requirements of your research project. For example, if conducting an online survey about consumer preferences, select a platform like Decode or Qatalyst that offers user-friendly interfaces and customizable templates with Insights powered by AI.

Guide to Design the Best Questionnaire

Logical Arrangement of Questions

Ensuring a logical flow of questions helps respondents navigate the questionnaire smoothly. Starting with introductory or general questions and progressing to more specific or detailed inquiries can enhance comprehension and engagement. Additionally, logically organizing questions prevents confusion and ensures that respondents follow the sequence easily.

Numbering of Questions

Numbering questions provides a clear structure to the questionnaire, making it easier for respondents to locate specific questions and for researchers to reference them during analysis. Sequential numbering allows for efficient tracking and adjustment of question order if needed, improving the overall usability of the questionnaire.

Use Recent and Remembered Data

Including questions that require respondents to recall recent events or experiences ensures the accuracy and reliability of their responses. Avoiding questions that demand distant or complex information reduces respondent burden and minimizes the risk of inaccurate or incomplete answers, enhancing the quality of the data collected.

Avoid Vague Questions

Clarity and specificity in question-wording are essential to prevent confusion and ensure respondents understand what is being asked. Clearly defined questions with unambiguous language help respondents provide accurate and relevant responses, contributing to the overall validity of the questionnaire.

Avoid Leading Questions

Leading questions can bias respondents' answers by suggesting a preferred response or influencing their perceptions. By phrasing questions neutrally and avoiding suggestive language, researchers can encourage respondents to provide genuine and unbiased feedback, thereby enhancing the credibility of the questionnaire.

Avoid Personal Questions

Respecting respondents' privacy and sensitivity to personal topics is crucial for maintaining trust and cooperation. Avoiding intrusive or overly personal questions helps create a comfortable environment for respondents to participate in the survey, increasing the likelihood of obtaining honest and reliable responses.

Ensure Smooth Transitions

Seamless transitions between questions maintain the coherence and flow of the questionnaire, guiding respondents through the survey without confusion or disruption. Clear connections between consecutive questions facilitate respondents' understanding of the survey's purpose and ensure consistency in their responses, improving the overall data quality.

Avoid Skip-and-Jump Questions

Minimizing skip-and-jump questions reduces respondent burden and frustration by streamlining the survey experience. Complex skip logic or frequent jumping between sections can confuse respondents and disrupt the survey flow, potentially leading to errors or incomplete responses. Simplifying the questionnaire structure helps maintain respondent engagement and data accuracy.

Maintain Quality

Ensuring the questionnaire is well-designed and professionally presented enhances respondents' perceptions of the survey's credibility and legitimacy. Attention to detail in layout, formatting, and printing reflects positively on the research effort and encourages respondents to take the survey seriously. A visually appealing and well-structured questionnaire increases respondent engagement and facilitates accurate data collection.

Ensure Ease of Handling

Designing the questionnaire at the respondents' convenience promotes participation and improves response rates. Keeping the questionnaire concise and focused, with a manageable number of questions, reduces respondent fatigue and increases the likelihood of completion. Researchers can create a user-friendly survey instrument that maximizes data quality and research outcomes by prioritizing simplicity and clarity.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by a questionnaire?

A questionnaire comprises a series of inquiries or prompts to obtain information from respondents regarding their attitudes, experiences, or opinions. It serves as a tool to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

What is a questionnaire example?

An example of a questionnaire is a Customer Satisfaction Survey, which can be employed in various scenarios involving interactions between customers and organizations. For instance, you could distribute such a survey to users after they use your product.

What are the 4 types of questionnaires in research?

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Structures, Unstructured, Open, and Closed.

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With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

2

Click on Study templates

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

3

Start from scratch

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

4

Add blocks to the content

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

5

Saving the Template

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

6

Publish the Template

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

1

Log into 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

2

Click on Study templates

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

3

Start from scratch

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

4

Add blocks to the content

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

5

Saving the Template

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

6

Publish the Template

With lots of unique blocks, you can easily build a page without coding.

Author Bio

Yeshaswi is a dedicated and enthusiastic individual with a strong affinity for tech and all things content. When he's not at work, he channels his passion into his love for football, especially for F.C. Barcelona and the GOAT, Lionel Messi. Instead of hitting the town for parties, he prefers to spend quality time cuddling with his Golden Retriever, Oreo.

Godi Yeshaswi

Product Marketing Specialist

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