How to Make Online Surveys That Stand Out of the Crowd

If you have decided to make an online survey and tried to do some research on the subject, you have probably read the phrase "prepare and plan well" many times, but still have no idea what that includes. To know exactly what you have to do, follow these 10 steps and make your online surveys an extraordinary one.

Step 1: Define goals

In order for your online survey to succeed, you need to know what you want to accomplish with the online survey. Try to sit down and think about the problem, until you reach such a problem statement that is relevant for the customer. When you have done that, you can ask yourself about the purpose - What outcome do I want to have?

Don't try to resolve several problems at once. Make the online survey focused so you don't end up with no actual solution to any of them. The lack of clarity will not only distract the respondent, but may encourage him not to take the survey at all. 

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Step 2: Aim well

When you have decided what you want to research on, choose who you wish to reach. Targeting the right audience is crucial when designing your online survey further. Have in mind that you won't be able to reach all of your target population, so you have to determine a sample size.

Step 3: Create dimensions

When making online surveys, always keep in mind the importance of size and simplicity. If you exceed 15 questions and have heavy, hard to understand sentences, your response rates will drop down for sure. Divide a long, complicated sentence to a couple of short, simple ones to achieve maximum understanding in your online surveys.

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Step 4: Ask the right questions

As you have a ton of question types to choose from, not all of them should be used in one online survey. Be consistent in your question type, with alternatives here and there. But remember that diversity on every single question will cause nothing but confusion.

It's best that you use mostly closed end questions, where the respondent chooses from specified options. This type is suitable if you want to ask something that doesn't have many alternatives, so people will definitely fall into the categories that you have given. It also makes it a lot easier to analyse and segment data later, when your online surveys have been answered.

Open end questions are also a good option when you want to gain some insight on the topic. But if it's overused, it may make respondents annoyed with writing and leave the online survey.

Step 5: Create order

Your respondent will never finish the online survey if you have no logical order of questions. If you mention one subject, switch to another one and go back again, then you cause confusion and irritation. Make sure your online survey starts with the proper introduction of the intentions and purpose of the online survey and that questions are separated by topics and arranged logically.

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Step 6: Be flexible

Aim to surprise the respondent, give him something that he hasn't expected to be in your online survey. You can use question skipping for the irrelevant (e.g. if you say no to a question, you are forwarded to the next group that is relevant for you).

Question piping is also a good strategy to spice up your online survey, when you predict some possible answers to open end questions and include follow ups for them. This way your online survey becomes more personal to the respondent.

Step 7: Go crazy with design

There are many ways online you can "play" with your online survey's appearance, attract attention by visuals, pictures, tables and colours. Do a little research on what eye-catching colour palettes to use, find suitable images and customise your themes.

Make sure you "brand" your survey with your logo, or some other distinctive sign that you have to make it recognisable. Be careful not to overdo it by making it too big or centered so it distracts attention from the question in the online survey. Watermarking works great to avoid this issue.

Go for minimalistic and simple design with one accent on page. For instance if you put a picture, video and your logo somewhere on the page, it's likely that no one will pay attention to the question first. Structuring the text will help big time when trying to focus on the questions.

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Step 8: Everyone needs some fun

Taking online surveys can be fun if you spend some time thinking of what the respondent may like. These days, there are many resources online that you can use to add games, GIF's and other interactive question forms. Try to use this method after the first half of the online survey to spice things up, since by then the respondent is probably getting tired and bored.

Step 9: Make it worth their time

In order to leave respondents satisfied with your online survey and not consider their time as wasted, you can offer them rewards. Try to think what would be relevant for most of them and suggest it as a prize (monetary, vouchers, whatever you can afford). Incentives boost response rates and incline a sense of mutual gratification.

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Step 10: Pre-test your work

It's a good idea to present a survey to a few of your target members in order to identify if it has mistakes, bugs in the system or if it is easy to understand and work with.