Online Surveys and Qualitative Research

Planning For Your Online Survey

Before starting any form of online surveys, you need to make sure that you have a concrete idea of what it is you’re researching and why. We’re not talking about just having a general idea of what you’d like to research… Write it down! Your objectives, ideas and who it is you think would help your research.

After you’ve done that, limit your expectations. Obviously, you won’t be able to get an immense amount of qualitative data from online surveys. However, if you ask one-three qualitative questions, you’ll be able to get some good context around the other questions you’re making an online survey about.

Quantitative Questions and Online Surveys

What are quantitative questions? I’m glad you asked! Quantitative questions are questions that (unlike qualitative questions) can be boiled down to yes or no questions. These are very good for when you already have a general idea of how you’re going to research your topic.

For example, it’s good to have qualitative questions to get a better idea of what the group you’re focusing on are thinking about. We recommend you do most of your qualitative research through focus groups before moving onto online surveys. You need to know how you need to frame your questions in the online survey to get the best outcome.

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Online Surveys and The Real World

Alright, let’s say that you want to open a hot dog stand because you envy Mr. Beard's ability to make people smile. You need to know what sort of toppings that people like. So, you start a focus group and ask them what sorts of topping they like and why (qualitative question!). They come up with ketchup, onion, mustard, melted cheese and a whole lot of other toppings.

You now find out that you can’t afford to have them all! What is a man to do? So, armed with what you know from the focus group, you ask quantitative questions. You ask them to rank their favourite hot dog toppings from a list that you put together from your qualitative research in an online survey! You then buy all the toppings that are ranked highest!

Making The Most Out Of Your Online Survey

You could then add a few qualitative questions to the online survey to get some ketchup on your delicious hot dog research. Ask them where they like to eat their hot dogs and why. By doing that, you get an idea of where you could set up your hot dog stand!

Qualitative questions in online surveys are also really good if you think that there are some topics some people may not be honest about when they’re speaking face to face. An example of this is the hotly debated “can you use an even bigger sausage for the same kind of bun for a smaller sausage?”