Sep 242008

The prospect of developing a questionnaire can be daunting; where to start, what types of questions to use, how to lay them out, and in which order to ask them.

The good news is that lots of people have been there before you, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!  Various online survey tools have captured this experience, making it very easy for a beginner to design a questionnaire, and also saving time for those experienced in designing surveys.

Whether your survey is to be online, a phone survey, or a postal survey, it’s well worth using a survey design tool to develop your questions. Then, if need be, you can transfer them to a printed version.

The tool I use, and thoroughly recommend to my clients, is Survey Monkey, which you can find at It’s even free for up to 10 questions and up to 100 responses. Beyond that there’s a very affordable monthly fee, which you can end at any time.

Five ways Survey Monkey slices chunks out of questionnaire design time

1. Sample question types

When you ‘Add’ a question, there’s a drop down list of question types to choose from. For example: multiple choice,  rating scale, textbox etc.

If you’re not sure which type of question you need, simply click on ‘Examples’ to see what each question type looks like.

2. Automatic layout

Suppose you’ve chosen to use a multiple choice question. You simply enter the question, and the possible responses. Hey Presto! Survey Monkey automatically lays it out for you.

3. Easy to change the question type

Once you see your question you may decide multiple choice isn’t right; a rating question would be better. Simply change the question type, and you’ll be prompted to add your rating categories eg low, medium, high. The layout is changed instantly.

4. Easy to reorder questions

As you develop your questionnaire, the chances are you’ll realise, for example, that question 9 about the type of training undertaken, needs to come before question 8 which asks their opinion of the training. No problem – just ‘drag and drop’, and the questions are automatically renumbered for you.

5. Easy to circulate for feedback

You can quickly send your questionnaire to people for comment before you finalise it. Either send them the link to the online survey, or send them a PDF version which is easily printed.

When you have a questionnaire to develop, use an online survey design tool such as Survey Monkey. You’ll get ideas for question types to use, and progress much more quickly and with more flexibility than you ever could using word processing.

© May Johnstone, 2009, Project Please feel free to circulate this article provided it is used in its entirety, including this acknowledgement.

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