How to design a questionnaire

The Questionnaire is a significant tool in collecting primary data in a market survey from a specific group of people or a sample for a research study. It consists of a series of written or verbal questions demanding responses from the sample. This enables the researchers to get an insight into the aspect they are researching on. A well designed questionnaire motivates people to provide accurate and complete information. It also offers respondents the anonymity and confidentiality of providing their genuine responses.

The questionnaire is not a stand-alone tool and the process includes different elements such as filed work, rewards for the respondents and communication aides. The different steps that are involved in designing a questionnaire are as follows:

Identification of the information that would be sought through the questionnaire: Unless the information to be collected is not clear, a questionnaire cannot be designed. Researchers can form a table of required data to be filled by the responses obtained from a questionnaire.

Selecting a question type and the method of administration: The question type that can be used in a questionnaire can be classified as fixed-alternative or multiple choice questions, open-ended questions and projective methods that uses a vague question or stimulus. One also needs to decide whether the administration of the questionnaire will be in written form, verbal form, email or web form or telephonic interview. The consideration of which response scale would be used has also been taken into account. The commonly used rating scales are graphic, itemised and comparative.

Determination of the general question content required for obtaining the desired information: Each question in the questionnaire should serve a purpose however; there should also be questions that helps the researcher to build rapport with the respondents and motivate them to convey the truth. Some techniques for increasing the likelihood of responses of sensitive questions comprises of placing a question in a series of less personal questions; phrase the question in terms of other people; and provide response choices specifying ranges and not numbers.

Ascertaining the form of response: The questionnaires are generally designed to obtain one of the three types of responses based on the aspect being surveyed. These responses are open-ended, dichotomous and multi-chotomous.

Choosing the accurate wordings for the questions: The wordings of the questions must be simple and easily understood by the respondents without ambiguity.

Arrangement of the questions into effective sequence: The questionnaire should begin with some neutral type of questions or general information regarding the respondents. It is to be kept in mind while designing a questionnaire that the sequence can impact the accuracy or truthfulness of responses.

Specification of the physical characteristics of the questionnaire: It is important to consider the type of paper, page layout, font size and question spacing for revealing the importance of the questionnaire to the respondents.

Testing the questionnaire and revising it as per requirement: It should be pre-tested to understand its effectiveness and reliability.