User survey | All you need to know to make them great
World of Digits / Explore
User survey is a great tool to find out who your users are and what opinions they hold. By asking the right questions, you can get better knowledge of who exactly your customers are, what their interests are, and their preferences, but also about their expectations towards your brand, your product. If your business strategy is based on customer centricity, those 10 tips will definitely help you to write your survey in the most efficient way.
First of all, surveys can easily be sent to a great amount of people and, therefore, help to gather representative data from a large audience. The data collected reveals broad characteristics about your users from which you can extract interesting patterns.
Moreover, this quantitative tool gives a higher degree of certainty about overall user population than only qualitative research. Answers are also easier to communicate since they allow for visual representations and based on numbers.
However, those benefits only exist if you ask the right people the right questions. The goal is to avoid producing inaccurate results. Keep also in mind that the answers from your users are based on their perceptions, not reality. By doing a web survey, you might lack direct contact with your respondents.
A user survey can have several objectives depending on the answers you want to get:
• Exploratory surveys typically gather information on a target population about their user needs, interests, and experiences. Therefore, It could be the best option when you’re thinking of designing a new product.
• Satisfactory surveys can be particularly useful when undergoing a major redesign of your website, your brand or your tools. This kind of survey helps you to make sure that the redesign resolves the main user problems.
• Value surveys should be done before launching a major marketing campaign, investigate what people find important to shape, how to describe and promote the product.
• Profile surveys help you collect snapshots of the composition of your current user population in a more general way.
Different types of user survey can bring you different outcomes or insights. That said, it is important to first set your goals on what you want to achieve with this UX research tool.
Therefore, before actually writing your survey, you have to define your goals with 1 or 2 sentences about why you’re doing it. This step will determine which type of survey to use but also help you analyze the data and answers collected afterwards. Thus, you can either choose to set descriptive goals that aim to profile your audience, or set explanatory goals that explain people’s beliefs and behaviors by uncovering relationships between their answers.
Once you have enumerated a list of goals based on desired outcomes, you can then start brainstorming on the questions that you want answered through your user survey.
Your questions can be categorized as:
✔ Characteristic questions (demographic, technological)
✔ Behavior questions (technology use, usage, competitive)
✔ Attitudinal questions (satisfaction, preference, desire)
You now have to carefully select the questions you want to ask. Less is more. Be aware of the information already gathered automatically though Analytics.
This survey question grid can help you:
✔ Question (i.e. “What kinds of stories have you read on the website in the last week?”)
✔ Instructions (i.e. “Check all that apply”)
✔ Answers (i.e. “Checklist: Telecommunications/ New products/ …”)
✔ Reasons (i.e. “A measure of reader information desires. Compare perceived reading habits to actual behavior based on log analysis. Summarize for ad sales.”)
Now that you are aware of what are the benefits of conducting a user survey and how they can be useful in your human centric strategy, here are 10 tips to write your survey questions.
Ask questions on current or past situations but not on hypothetical situations like situations that never happened. Indeed, people’s past behavior is usually better at predicting their future behavior than their statements are.
Formulate positive questions and avoid negations such as don’t, never, not, …
This can be confusing for the users and distort their answers. Negative questions are more difficult to understand and easy to mistake for the positive version of themselves.
Reduce as much as you can the number of questions.
Some answers you need might well be found via to data Analytics, for example.
Avoid words with multiple or fuzzy meanings (“sometimes”, “around”, “roughly”, “any”). Bring enough details to make sure users understand the questions the way you ask them. Use exact time periods. Finally, avoid abbreviations when speaking in units other than money, percentages or common ones.
Give people an option that they feel applies to them. Allow an option “Other”, “I don’t know” to make sure everyone is included in the answer.
Start with questions that deep dive into the topic and end with less interesting questions such as name, age, etc.
Ease the answers thanks to Likert scales which are a familiar method of presenting multiple-choice answers. In fact, those allow a very quick and direct response and bring reliable results.
Ask questions that further expand on a given answer. Ideally, follow-up questions should appear only after a specific answer for a given question. This is technologically possible with many online survey services.
Always include an option for people to signify that a question does not apply to them or that none of the suggested options are appropriate.
Add a feedback section that allows users to give suggestions, comments, etc. Although most people won’t use them, you should include a space at the end of the survey for people to provide comments about it.
Now you have every information you need to make the most efficient user survey and gather the data you really need depending on your goal.
Remember that one thing you should pay attention to is that the questions should be nondirected, unambiguous, and closed ended. If you’re looking for the right tool to make your user survey, consider Microsoft Forms, Typeform or Optimal Workshop.
From there, you can send the user survey to your users with an invitation link to be less obstructive, by email to track response rate, or by interruption on the service/product to guarantee more random sample.
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