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The Value of Language: Writing Ideal Survey Questions

With several DIY Survey tools available today, creating your own questionnaire sounds like a breeze! The truth is you may be heading straight into a headache.


Not all questions are created equally. Poorly written survey questions can muddy data, reduce completion rates, and hinder business decisions. Writing an ideal survey question can hinge on as little as a single word. Consider the following questions when starting your next survey project.


Do your questions mean the same thing to all respondents?

Clear wording and multiple language options help to account for diversity in your survey population. Do you have an understanding of who you are writing for? It is important for data quality that we are not giving people reasons to skip questions, or choose answers at random. Consider your audience’s age, primary language, and education to help ensure that wording is not too complex, or exclusive. For example; technical phrases or jargon that make perfect sense to the city’s Engineering Planners, may not be accessible to the general public.


Are your questions measuring what they need to?

Before jumping into the development of any survey project, we lead a discussion with our client-partners to define their research objectives. Our approach at The W Group is to narrow the focus down by strategically formatting questions in a way that helps guide decision-making.

Designing an amazing survey takes a lot of thoughtful consideration. The more open, clear, and decisive questions are, the more respondents will answer them with accuracy. It is important that survey results are clear and defensible.


To learn more watch our video “The Value of Language”