Designing a questionnaire is probably the most important step in survey process. This step can determine if you will accurately measure the opinions, experiences and behaviors of the public. Before starting, you must be familiar with basic criteria of designing a questionnaire because well-designed questions can lead to high response rates and comprehensive participants’ answers.
There are a number of important elements in questionnaire design but before starting to compile questions, it is important to set clear goals of the research which can lead to desirable questionnaire results. Some research topics may require extensive list of questions, others should be concise and quickly answered. Try to decide if you and your research need quick and first impression answers, or thought-out, profound opinions from the participants.
Once you decide on questionnaire aims, it is easier to proceed to creating the structure of questionnaire and questions that form it. Firstly, it is important to present short introduction about yourself, about the research itself, its aims and the questionnaire as well as how to fill it correctly. Do not forget to mention if the questionnaire is anonymous, this will guarantee more honest opinions and answers.
Secondly, it is crucial to make sure that each question addresses research aims, but remember to keep the questions uncluttered. You can use easier questions about social status, age, profession, etc., in order to make interviewee more comfortable with the questionnaire and the move to more topical ones.
Thirdly, keep the questionnaire as short as possible, because the more questions it includes the more likely participants will reconsider taking part in the research. Questions should be short and clear, no ambiguities, do not leave space for interpretation unless your research requires it.
One of the most important factors when designing a questionnaire is the order of questions. Start with factual, least sensitive questions and progress to more specific, more sensitive questions. Do not leave most important questions at the end of the questionnaire because if some participants do not finish the whole questionnaire, you will be left without the most important information. You can select from a variety of question types including single choice, multiple choice, dropdown, single text box, comment box or matrix.
Another element is the language you use in the questionnaire. Try to use less technical jargon, use appropriate language for the group of people being studied (take into consideration their social class, educational level, age, ethnicity, etc.). Questions should be easily understood by all participants.
Finally, make sure it looks professional and has clear instructions how to complete this questionnaire. Also, you can mention what is the next step of your research and where participants can find more information about it and its results.