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GuidesSurveysThe ultimate 2024 guide to questionnaires (with example questions)

The ultimate 2024 guide to questionnaires (with example questions)

Last updated

4 March 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

Customer questionnaires are an essential component of any research project. Are you getting the most out of each question you ask your target audience?

Detailed and specific questions are the backbone of any user research project. As the key determining factor for the type of information you will be collecting, ensuring that your team asks the right questions in your questionnaires is essential for success.

Whether you are looking to gain valuable customer feedback after a product launch or are collecting user data for future projects, how you craft your questionnaires will significantly impact the quality of information you receive.

This article is for you if you want to get the most out of your next round of user research. We’re covering everything you need to know about sophisticated questionnaire design and question writing. Our helpful tips will ensure that your next user research project gives you the specific results you’re looking for.

What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a compilation of questions for your target audience to answer. It is a valuable research tool for collecting data and information about user experience, product reviews, and general customer feedback.

A questionnaire is not the same as a survey or customer interview, although they are closely connected. While many people use these terms interchangeably, each has a unique definition:

Questionnaire

A questionnaire is a list of questions for your company’s target audience. It does not imply how you collect or interpret the data; it is simply a tool to produce your desired results.

Survey

A survey is a research method that uses a blend of closed- and open-ended questions to gather information from a specific group to learn more about their behaviors, preferences, and experiences. Your survey design can include questionnaires to collect data, but you can use other research tools to achieve this goal.

Customer interview

A customer interview is a process of asking your target audience questions, either virtually or in person. Customer interviews use questionnaires to collect data, with a list of questions to gain information.

Questionnaires help your business collect valuable information

Customer questionnaires can be a helpful research tool when you use them at the right time. Examples of common events that pair well with questionnaire research include:

Before or after significant design changes

Tapping into detailed customer feedback when making design changes is often the most successful approach. Deploying questionnaires before and after design changes can reduce friction and improve your customer’s experience with your brand.

As part of the launch of a new product or service

Connecting with new and repeat customers is one of the best ways to assess the success of your product or service. If your company wants to create a new offering or expand into a new market or niche, questionnaires are a helpful tool for collecting feedback and information throughout this process. 

During brand awareness marketing campaigns

If your business is looking to boost brand awareness, increasing your marketing with advertisements and social media presence is an absolute must. During this time of finding your voice and space in the market, questionnaires can help your team gauge public awareness and overall reception of your brand during marketing campaigns.

Research methods for effective questionnaires

Questionnaires are versatile, so you can create them with a particular research style. Depending on the type of data your business is looking to collect, the types of questions you include in your list of questions will differ significantly.

Not sure what type of research you want to conduct with your questionnaire? Here are a few examples and sample questions to get you started:

Qualitative research

Qualitative research collects stories, anecdotes, and opinions from your participants. It’s one of the most valuable research methods for learning about your customer’s user experience. This research style isn’t interested in numbers or statistics. Qualitative research cares about a particular group's emotions, experiences, and struggles.

Examples of qualitative research questions that you can use for your next survey include:

  • What factors impacted your recent decision to purchase or product/service?

  • How has our product/service helped you in your day-to-day life?

  • What are some examples of shortcomings in our product/service?

Quantitative research

Quantitative research questions collect numerical data. This type of research aims to identify patterns, trends, averages, peaks, and valleys in the use of your product or service.

Examples of quantitative research questions include:

  • What is the average time a customer spends on your website?

  • What percent of your existing customers are repeat buyers?

  • How many new users purchase your product/service after a new launch?

Descriptive research

Descriptive research collects data on the characteristics of your target audience. Instead of figuring out “why” a group of people behaves or presents in a certain way, descriptive research questions focus more on identifying existing characteristics.

Examples of descriptive research questionnaire questions to add to your next user research project include:

  • What is the average age of your target demographic?

  • What time of day does your audience typically interact with your website?

  • What social media platform does your target audience use the most?

Analytical research

Analytical research is the way to go if your business is looking to better understand the statistical patterns and potential causal relationships between two factors. This field of study combines critical thinking with data interpretation, so analytical research is essential for any company looking to grow and expand its reach.

Examples of analytical research questions for a questionnaire include:

  • Why have fewer customers purchased your product/service in X month?

  • Why is a particular product/service your most popular offering?

  • Why do X% of your customers require additional customer service support?

Applied research

Applied research is a specific area of study that provides detailed solutions to a complex process or problem. After an applied research study, your team should have enough information to resolve your current design or process problems.

Examples of applied research questionnaire questions worth considering as you design your next customer survey include:

  • What are ways to improve your product/service?

  • How can your brand better address negative customer feedback?

  • How is your product/service meeting the needs of your target audience?

Exploratory research

Exploratory research can help your team conduct preliminary research on a poorly defined topic during the early stages of product design or development. It’s an excellent tool for brand-new companies or those looking to break into a new market. Exploratory research questions collect base-level information about your target audience that you can later build upon as your team creates a more specialized offering.

Examples of exploratory research questionnaire questions include:

  • On average, how many hours a day do you spend thinking/worrying about X topic?

  • Would a product/service targeting [topic] benefit your day-to-day life?

  • If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change to improve your relationship with [topic]?

The pros and cons of using questionnaires

To get the most out of your research, your team should be aware of questionnaires’ inherent advantages and disadvantages. This way, you can do your best to plan around the strengths while avoiding potential weaknesses and issues. Let’s check out the pros and cons. 

Five benefits of questionnaires

1. They are usually cheap to use

Questionnaires are a cost-effective option for conducting thorough and detailed user research. Depending on the scope of your research project, your team may choose to write and share your questionnaires — an inexpensive and effective process. 

2. You can get fast results

Once your team has made your questionnaire live to the public, data often doesn’t take long to pour in. Sometimes, you’ll need as little as 24 hours to collect information from your target audience, allowing for fast turnaround times for enhancing your products and services.

3. You can scale them easily

You can send online questionnaires to any number of people in your target audience. You could email returning customers or research people mentioning your brand on social media. Whichever strategy you choose, you can send a questionnaire to a few people or multiple thousands without changing its layout and design.

4. Your team can use the data can to make better decisions

If your team creates a successful and specific questionnaire, the information you collect will be easy to analyze and interpret. The more answers you get, the easier it is to identify consumer trends. This process allows your company to make more educated decisions about better serving your target audience.

5. You can use questionnaires for any topic

Any industry can use questionnaires. No matter what niche or market your company operates in, you can create a detailed questionnaire to collect the specific data you are looking for.

Five disadvantages to questionnaires

1. Respondents can lie

All questionnaires are at the whim of the participants. Depending on the industry and topic you are asking about, the people filling out your questionnaire may lie. This can skew your results and impact the validity of your data.

2. Participants may skip questions

If you write a particularly lengthy questionnaire, your participants may skip questions they do not wish to answer. Depending on what info you are looking for, this may not be the biggest problem. Still, if you have a question you really want feedback on, this can cause an issue over time.

3. There is always information bias

A well-crafted questionnaire aims to be unbiased, ensuring you’re not pushing your audience in one direction or another. Without even realizing it, your questions can direct your participants in a particular direction, impacting your data’s accuracy. 

4. People will interpret your questionnaire differently

No matter how clearly you feel like you wrote a question, it is always possible (and incredibly likely) that the people filling out your questionnaire will interpret it in a different way. To avoid this, testing your questionnaire before making it live for your target audience can be helpful.

5. Survey fatigue is real

Are you tempted to send long and incredibly detailed questionnaires? You need to watch out for survey fatigue. The further into the questionnaire the participant gets, the more bored they’ll get, impacting their response quality. Finding a healthy balance of length and question is essential, but it may influence the level of detailed data.

10 ways to make a stand-out user research questionnaire

With this information in mind, you’re ready to create a custom questionnaire for your next company research project. While it can feel daunting to start this process, here are a few of our top tips for making a detailed questionnaire to gather the results you need.

1. Use a template

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when making your questionnaire. Whenever possible, use a premade template as a jumping-off point for your project. This is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t forget vital information or overcomplicate the process.

2. Clearly identify your research method

Are you looking to gain qualitative data from your study, or do you want to collect analytical statistics to find patterns and trends? Take some time before you begin this process to consider what research outcomes you are looking to achieve. This will greatly shape the questions you include in your questionnaire.

3. Consider your target audience

A solid understanding of your desired participants is another crucial factor to consider before you begin writing. It’s also important to decide how you’ll send the questionnaire to them. For user research purposes, we recommend using email lists of previous customers, but you can use social media, casual users, and other sources to collect information.

4. Explore different question types

As you begin to build your questionnaire, it is vital to consider the different styles of questions that you can use. Examples of question types we recommend include:

  • Multiple choice: An easy-to-use option with single-select or multi-select answer choices for simple quantitative research (like customer demographics, frequency of product use, or product categories)

  • Rating scale: Ideal for gathering information on the customer’s experience and satisfaction level

  • Open-ended: Qualitative research studies commonly use open-ended questions, as they encourage longer-form paragraph answers

5. Write straightforward questions

Now that you are ready to begin writing, we recommend creating multiple versions of each question you are looking to ask. You and your team can select the most straightforward option to reduce participant confusion during the editing process.

6. Prioritize the important questions

Once you have high-quality questions, prioritize them from most to least important. As a general rule of thumb, you want the most significant questions at the top of your survey so participants are more likely to answer them. You can often remove the least necessary questions to shorten your study and prevent survey fatigue.

7. Order your questions logically

Now that you know the questions you’re including, organize them logically. This helps your customers feel like your questionnaire is purposeful and thorough rather than random and pointless. 

8. Keep it brief

When in doubt, cut an extra question or two. Especially for your first few questionnaires, focusing on simple, short, and effective lists is the best way to get quality results for your team.

9. Make a clean and simple visual design

Once you’ve completed your question list, spend some extra time making it look aesthetically pleasing. Adding company branding, such as logos, custom art, or company colors, can make your questionnaire stand out to your participants.

10. Test your questionnaire

Finally, before you make your questionnaire available to the public, test it with a smaller group. This is key to identifying problematic questions or glitches in your technology before they become larger-scale issues. 

Putting it all together

Questionnaires are essential for all research fields, including high-quality user and brand awareness research.

While it may seem like creating a thoughtful and detailed questionnaire should take no more than a few hours, spending extra time in the design and planning phases will produce the best results. We promise it will be worth it!

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