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The first step in conducting effective research is to define the parameters of your survey:
Write clear, precise and short questions. A sure-fire way to lose your respondents is to write expansive questions that require a great deal of reading. You also run the risk of biasing their answer or, at the very least, confusing them. Make vocabulary precise and unambiguous, and steer clear of double negatives.
1. Avoid Yes/No questions where possible. For example, if you are looking to talk to people who are looking to purchase a laptop in the next 3 months:
DO NOT ask - 'will you buy a laptop in the next 3 months?'
DO ask - which of the following products are you considering purchasing in the next 3 months: mobile phone, printer, laptop, scanner, tablet etc.
2. Randomize answer lists - if you have a list of answers that are non-sequential (such as a list of brands, names or locations) then make sure your survey tool has a feature that allows you to randomize your responses. This means that the first answer won't always appear at the top, reducing a natural human bias to give more attention to the answers coming higher up the list. Of course, it does not make sense to randomize sequential answers, such as income or age bands - 16-24, 25-44, 45-54, 55+
1. Surveys with incorrect logic. Example seen recently: 'Are you male or female - male', 'Are you married?',' Yes,' and 'How old is your husband?'
2. Spelling mistakes show a lack of care and attention and may pay the same level of respect to your respondent's answers.
3. Bandings - make sure any question with bands includes all the possible options. Example of what not to do: 'How many times do you take a flight a year?' Once, 2-5 times, 10-15 times, 15-20 times.'
There are four errors; the first 2 are not offering an option for 'zero flights' and 'more than 20'. The third is not providing an option for '6-9 flights'. The fourth is having 2 options if you took 15 flights. It's very a common mistake, even for experienced researchers!
1. Answers - do not give a list of 50 possible answers. Keep it to less than 10 if possible. Split across multiple questions if necessary.
2. Survey length: make sure anyone taking the survey can feasibly complete it within ten minutes. If it takes longer than ten minutes, you run the risk of respondents losing patience and giving any answer to simply finish the survey. Experienced market researchers can craft engaging surveys longer than this, but for DIY users it is not advised.