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How to create a smart survey design


An online survey tool can help you gain access to insights into what your customers, employees, students, teachers or even the general community are thinking. However, in order to get the most gain from your survey, you need to carefully consider the design.

Numerous things to consider when creating a survey include the look and feel of the survey, questions used (from the type of question to the amount included within the survey), who you’re sending the survey to and what your ultimate goal is.

Creating a smart survey design ensures you get the most out of your survey.

SMART surveys

Consider the abbreviation SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) when conducting surveys. This ensures your survey and questions are tailored to what you want to achieve.

Think carefully about your desired outcome and set specific goals for the survey. Try to avoid asking too many questions across a broad range of topics, instead focus each survey on a specific topic. Each survey you create may have a different goal, so you want to make sure it is working towards that goal.

When using surveys to gather data, you want to ensure your goal is measurable. You also need to be able to understand survey data so it can be effectively implemented to make changes within your business or organisation. Choose an online survey tool with easy to use reporting and analysis capabilities.

Your survey goals should always be achievable, otherwise, you may be wasting your time and energy. Ask questions through which the answers can be actioned and will help you achieve your goal, and don’t set unrealistic goals for your surveys.

Only ask questions that align with your goals for the survey, and keep questions focused towards one goal. Don’t waste time asking questions that will provide you with irrelevant data. If the answer doesn’t matter, don’t bother asking the question.

You want to receive your data in a timely manner. Set a time limit on surveys and ask respondents to complete the survey by a set time to ensure you get the data you need when you need it.

Ask the right questions

When designing your survey you need to be considerate with your questions, from the way you word them, to the number you include.

Keep the language simple and avoid using jargon. You want to make the questions as easy to answer as possible. If confused, respondents may not properly answer questions, or may not even complete the survey.

Only ask one question at a time. Asking multiple things within one question can result in respondents only answering one part of the question.

Keep your survey short and to the point. Too many questions can result in respondents not completing the survey. Each question included in your survey should add value and support your goals, so cut out anything excessive and unnecessary.

There is a range of different question types to use. Consider what type will most support your goal. Multiple-choice can provide respondents with options to choose from, though be careful not to limit their responses and skew the results. Always provide an option to either not answer, or select ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘other’.

Text boxes allow respondents to elaborate, but having too many can become too much effort for respondents and they may provide less accurate answers if they start to feel fatigued by the questions.

It is often best to use a mix of different question types. This helps you gather the data you’re after while minimising the risk of respondents getting bored.

Customise your survey design

Choose an online survey tool that enables you to customise your survey design. A survey can create brand awareness, so you want respondents to know who the survey is coming from.

Rather than using a generic survey template, customise your survey by using your logo, colours and other brand elements, to make it clear it comes from your company. Sending out unbranded website surveys can affect response and completion rates.

A survey that looks good and is well-presented is more likely to encourage a high response rate, so pay attention to all the design details, including fonts, colours and layout.

Customise your surveys to reflect your company image and resonate more strongly with your audience.

For a secure and easy to use online survey tool, SurveyManager® allows you to design, deploy, and analyse your custom surveys to gather the data you need.