June 26, 2012

UXD Worst Practice: Repetitive Questions

Surveys and questionnaires are great tools for gathering and measuring certain types of user data, such as satisfaction, knowledge, and attitudes. However, creating a great survey is not an easy task! While a survey is likely just one tool you are using to improve the user experience of something else, you must also work to continuously improve your surveys!

Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when coming up with survey questions:
  1. Make sure every question is necessary and well-written. Know exactly what you are trying to learn from each question!
  2. Don't ask redundant questions.
  3. Word questions neutrally - try especially hard to avoid any negative connotations, as these will distort the survey taker's response.
I was recently taking a survey for my alumni association and was shocked at how repetitive the questions felt. Here is a snapshot of one portion of the survey:

Aside from the minute differences in the meaning of each adjective, questions 5, 6, 8, and 9 are all essentially the same. Question 7 isn't much better but I'd definitely let it slide if three of the others had been removed.

Naturally, thinking "I just answered this!" after reading each question became very frustrating. In addition, the overall length of the survey was far too long and could have easily been reduced by eliminating much of the redundancy. There's no question this had an impact on the quality of data I was providing - by the end I was simply clicking buttons to get the survey over with!
Let that be a lesson to you!

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