What types of survey questions are there? Which one will give you the most truthful and reliable answers?
Asking yourself these questions is the first step toward conducting a successful survey.
Why, may you ask?
Because it means that you are aware of how important the differences between survey questions are.
Since we want to ease the learning-journey, we decided to write this blog post and help you find the most suitable types of survey questions for you.
The questions are separated into two groups: open-ended and closed-ended questions.
We’ve explained their differences, their good sides, and setback, and when is the best time to use them.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table of content
- Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions
- Multiple-choice questions
- Dropdown selector
- Rating scale
- Image uploads
- Tips for writing great survey questions
Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions
The difference between closed-ended and open-ended questions is whether the respondents are offered answers to choose from or are free to write whatever they want.
That being said, the answers in open-ended questions come in the form of paragraphs or text boxes, so there are no limitations in your respondents’ answers.
On the other hand, questions that include answers in advance belong under the umbrella of closed-ended questions.
This type of questions come in multiple forms like:
- Multiple-choice questions
- Rating scale
- Dropdown menu
- Image choice questions
Which one should you use?
Use closed-ended questions when you want a quick and straightforward survey.
Since these types of questions offer answers in advance, the surveys are much easier and faster to answer.
Closed-ended questions are the way to go if you want to gather quantitative data and segment the respondents.
However, it would help if you are careful when writing the answers. You shouldn’t miss the ones that are expected to be offered.
Open-ended questions offer the researcher an opportunity to gain valuable and unique insights.
You should use open-ended questions because they can give you answers you might not expect.
This is important because it gives you a different perspective of the issue you are researching.
Nevertheless, these types of questions come with a bit of setback.
They are somewhat difficult to analyze and interpret the data that come from them.
Still, if you want to proceed with these types of questions or choose some of the closed-ended, we have explained them all in the points that follow.
However, we recommend using a combination of both groups to gather insightful and valuable information from your audience.
As mentioned earlier, the answers to open-ended survey questions come in the form of paragraphs, text boxes, short-text, or long-text.
This means that most online survey builders use one of these names to mark the option for open-ended questions.
We use open-ended questions to give the respondents freedom to write their answers in their own words.
Open-ended questions are helpful when you want to gather a bunch of different opinions and experiences.
They are great for increasing customer satisfaction when surveying your business.
On the flip side, you should be mindful when using open-ended questions.
Since they require more in-depth answers, they also require more time to answer them. Therefore, the response rate can be lower.
Furthermore, you should expect difficulty when analyzing the survey results. You will receive a variety of different answers that can be challenging to interpret.
Multiple choice questions are primarily used when it comes to surveys, and they belong to closed-ended questions.
In these types of questions, the respondents are asked to choose one or more answers that you have previously listed.
The dropdown menu, dichotomous questions (yes/no questions), and rating scales all belong in the group of multiple-choice questions.
These questions are straightforward and precise, and they don’t take any longer than a few seconds to be answered.
That leads us to the first benefit of using multiple-choice questions; they are short, intuitive, and easy to understand.
And most importantly, the survey responses are easy to analyze.
Multiple-choice questions come in many formats. One of them is the single-answer format.
The answers are presented in small circles called radio buttons, and the respondent needs to click only one of the options.
Another format is the check-box format, where the respondent is allowed to select more than one answer.
Even though multiple-choice questions are the most common among surveys, you still need to keep in mind a few disadvantages.
They are easy to answer but complex to create.
Take into account that you need to have a deep understanding of the topic you explore to offer answer options that will give you insightful data.
The dropdown menu belongs to the closed-ended question group since it has predefined response options.
In online questionnaires, respondents can answer dropdown menus once they click the down arrow.
A dropdown menu is excellent when you want to display a long list of answer choices.
You’ve probably come across this type of survey question when you’ve answered demographic questions like age, nationality.
Depending on the survey-tool, most dropdown menus are scrollable when answered from a phone, making them fast and easy to answer.
The NPS (net promoter score) is the best example of a rating scale question.
Rating scales like NPS are used to measure customer satisfaction.
In these types of questions (sometimes refers as ordinal questions ), the answer is presented with a scale from 0-10.
The respondents select one number from the scale that best describes their answer.
There are few types of rating scales like numeric scale, Likert scale, or star rating scale.
Rating scales are both used for quantitative and qualitative data.
The pro thing about using rating scales is that they are simple to understand and answer, plus the gathered data is easy to analyze and interpret.
On the other hand, the data you’ll receive is limited. You get the rating, but there is no information about the reason behind the score.
Image upload questions
Image upload questions allow the survey-takers to upload an image to your survey.
It’s a great way of showing social-proof to customers online.
Plus, it adds up to a better customer experience when users can see your product’s realistic image.
Additionally, you gain information about how your customers use the product.
The pros of using image upload questions in your survey are adding credibility and saving your respondents’ time for writing down long answers.
Tips for writing good survey questions
In today’s modern world, survey templates full of different questions relevant to your topic are just one click away from you.
There is no need for you to invest your time in creating one from scratch when you can have a professional-looking survey in minutes using EmbedForms.
However, if you are still curious about writing effective survey questions, here are 3 simple steps you should follow:
- Be direct. Use clear and understanding expressions that can be comprehensible by everyone.
- Don’t be bias. Avoid writing questions that lead the respondent to a particular answer. Try to construct as specific questions as possible.
- Avoid writing double-barreled questions. Ask one thing per question to avoid confusion.
- Sensitive questions. Keep in mind that some questions like personal life, religion, etc., can be seen as sensitive. Respondents may not answer these questions, or they can answer them untruthfully.
To wrap it all up
We’ve gone through different types of survey questions, and we saw that each one has its pros and cons.
The most important thing when choosing a type of survey question is to know when to use it and what for.
Once you learn the best application for each of these questions, putting them into practice will give you great results.