Survey Question and Answer Types

So you've decided that you need a better understanding of the characteristics of people who visit your website, or of some other business-related question. Developing a focused and effective questionnaire will help you to efficiently and accurately pinpoint the information that will help you make more informed decisions.

Developing a questionnaire is as much an art as it is a science. And just as an artist has a variety of different colors to choose from in the palette, you have a variety of different question formats with which to create an accurate picture of your customers, clients and issues that are important to them.

The Dichotomous Question:

The dichotomous question is generally a "yes/no" question. An example of the dichotomous question is:

Have you ever purchased a product or service from our website?

  • Yes
  • No

If you want information only about product users, you may want to ask this type of question to "screen out" those who haven't purchased your products or services. Researchers use "screening" questions to make sure that only those people they are interested in participate in the survey.

You may also want to use yes/no questions to separate people or branch into groups of those who "have purchased" and those who "have not yet purchased" your products or services. Once separated, different questions can be asked of each of these groups.

You may want to ask the "have purchased" group how satisfied they are with your products and services, and you may want to ask the "have not purchased" group what the primary reasons are for not purchasing. In essence, your questionnaire branches to become two different sets of questions.

The Multiple Choice Questions

The multiple-choice question consists of three or more exhaustive, mutually exclusive categories. Multiple choice questions can ask for single or multiple answers. In the following example, we could ask the respondent to select exactly one answer from the 7 possible, exactly 3 of the 7, or as many as 3 of the 7 (1,2,or 3 answers can be selected).

Example: A multiple-choice question to find out how a person first heard about your website is:How did you first hear about our web site?

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Internet
  • Other: Please Specify

For this type of question it is important to consider including an "other" category because there may be other avenues by which the person first heard about your site that you might have overlooked.

Rank Order Scaling

Rank order scaling questions allow a certain set of brands or products to be ranked based upon a specific attribute or characteristic. Perhaps we know that Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Ford are most likely to be purchased. You may request that the options be ranked based upon a particular attribute. Ties may or may not be allowed. If you allow ties, several options will have the same scores.

Example:Based upon what you have seen, heard, and experienced, please rank the following brands according to their reliability. Place a "1" next to the brand that is most reliable, a "2" next to the brand that is next most reliable, and so on. Remember, no two cars can have the same ranking

  • Honda
  • Toyota
  • Mazda
  • Ford

The Rating Scale

A rating scale question requires a person to rate a product or brand along a well-defined, evenly spaced continuum. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. The following is an example of a comparative rating scale question:

Which of the following categories best describes your last experience purchasing a product or service on our website? Would you say that your experience was:

  • Very pleasant
  • Somewhat pleasant
  • Neither pleasant nor unpleasant
  • Somewhat unpleasant
  • Very unpleasant

The Constant Sum Question

A constant sum question permits collection of "ratio" data, meaning that the data is able to express the relative value or importance of the options (option A is twice as important as option B).

Example: The following question asks you to divide 100 points between a set of options to show the value or importance you place on each option. Distribute the 100 points giving the more important reasons a greater number of points. The computer will prompt you if your total does not equal exactly 100 points. When thinking about the reasons you purchased our TargetFind data mining software, please rate the following reasons according to their relative importance.

  • Seamless integration with other software
  • User friendliness of software
  • Ability to manipulate algorithms
  • Level of pre- and post-purchase service
  • Level of value for the price
  • Convenience of purchase/quick delivery
  • Total 100 points

This type of question is used when you are relatively sure of the reasons for purchase, or you want input on a limited number of reasons you feel are important. Questions must sum to 100 points and point totals are checked by javascript.

The Open-Ended Question

The open-ended question seeks to explore the qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic or issue. It gives a person the chance to respond in detail. Although open-ended questions are important, they are time-consuming and should not be over-used. An example of an open-ended question might be: (If the respondent indicates they did not find what they were looking for...)

What products of services were you looking for that were not found on our website?

If you want to add an "Other" answer to a multiple choice question, you would use branching instructions to come to an open ended question to find out What Other....

The Demographic Question

Demographic questions are an integral part of any questionnaire. They are used to identify characteristics such as age, gender, income, race, geographic place of residence, number of children, and so forth. For example demographic questions will help you to classify the difference between product users and non-users. Perhaps most of your customers come from the Northeast, are between the ages of 50 and 65, and have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

Demographic data helps you paint a more accurate picture of the group of persons you are trying to understand. And by better understanding the type of people who use or are likely to use your product, you can allocate promotional resources to reach these people, in a more cost effective manner.

Psycho-graphic or life style questions are also included in the template files. These questions provide an in-depth psychological profile and look at activities, interests and opinions of respondents.

Where to select the Question Type from?

To add a new question click on the Add New Question link. This will open up the Question Wizard. On the First Page of the Question Wizard you can select the Question Type from the Drop Down Menu.

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