Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Survey Design Basics

Program or Manufacture the Survey

For the structure of the Survey:

  • Layout:
    • Create an all-inclusive survey.
    • Use consistent scales for Likert question types.
    • Question order matters:
      • Easy before complex
      • Behavior before attitude
      • General before specific
      • Awareness before usage
      • Sensitive questions should go near the end (e.g., demographics)
    • Make randomized questions within a section if there’s no logical sequence.
  • Typefaces and styles:
    • Use text styles (italics, bold, underline, etc.) but not all at ONCE.
    • Highlight important instructions with colors but sparingly and consistently. Think also about perceptions.
    • Choose fonts so that they provide a clear hierarchal order to the survey.
    • When in doubt, use online guides for which fonts to mix.
  • Graphics:
    • Include an image of the sponsoring organization’s logo.
    • Use visuals to support or clarify questions.
    • Be wary of the different ways graphics can be used to interpret a question.
    • May impact page loading.
  • Skip Logic:
    • Base the question each respondent receives on answers from previous questions.
    • Preview several times and try all possible paths to ensure the logic is correct.
    • Advantages:
      • Personalizes the survey.
      • Typically less confusion (especially in internet-based surveys).
      • Can lead to stronger results.
    • Disadvantages:
      • May confuse respondents in paper-based surveys due to lack of continuity.
      • Increase possibility of error when creating survey.
  • Appeal to the respondent:
    • Create a good first impression: include a clear introduction, contact information and the name of any sponsoring organizations.
    • Produce a sense of altruism.
    • Time the release of the survey with outside events.
    • Consider incentivizing with an appropriate gift or drawing.
      • Should be group-specific.
      • Not so great in value that it might be lead to biased answers.
      • May lead to replicates/multiple submissions by one individuals.
    • Always remember to thank for their time.
  • Confidentiality:
    • Be honest about if/how confidentiality will be maintained.
    • Inform the respondents on how data collected will be used.
      • Should be reasonably accurate but not necessarily too specific.
    • Determine which questions are “required” and which are not.
      • Assure respondents they can skip questions if they are sensitive.