What I Learned From Doing A 9-Question Survey

I was pumped to get my first survey off the ground. After all, I’ve completed hundreds of surveys in my lifetime, so I felt confident that I knew what I was doing. As a result, it took me about 2 hours to write 9 questions for my first survey. 

While I thought my goal was clear and expected the results to be pretty straightforward, the data surprised me and was far more nuanced than I had anticipated. In this post, I talk about what I learned from making mistakes during my first couple of surveys and how you can avoid them:

Survey Questions 101: Examples and Tips – YouTube
Key Takeaways
– Effective survey design is crucial for obtaining valuable insights.
– Keep surveys concise with a limited number of questions to maintain participant engagement.
– Clear and straightforward questions lead to more accurate and reliable responses.
– Analyzing survey results helps uncover trends and patterns for informed decision-making.
– Pre-testing surveys can identify potential issues and improve overall survey quality.
– Surveys can provide actionable data for refining strategies and enhancing user experiences.
– Combining quantitative and qualitative questions offers a well-rounded perspective.
– Understanding survey objectives is essential to tailor questions to specific goals.
– Continuously iterate and improve survey methodologies based on collected feedback.
– Ethical considerations, such as data privacy, must be upheld throughout the survey process.

1. Do Not Ask A Generic Question

The first question I learned the importance of asking is: “Is this a generic question?” If you can answer a question, it’s probably too broad.

If you ask someone, “What is your favorite color?”, they will likely tell you their favorite color. 

But if they are asked instead, “How do you feel when someone tells an offensive joke?”, they may not have an easy answer because that’s not something everyone would think about or respond to the same way.

The second thing I learned from this survey is that generic questions are great for getting people talking and loosening them up so that they’ll be more willing to share their real thoughts later on in the conversation. 

This was very helpful for me because my goal was to learn how other people think about certain things and why they behave like they do or believe what they do.

And these types of open-ended questions allow us access to each other’s minds without any risk of judgment or shame being experienced by either party involved (as long as both parties are willing).

When conducting marketing research, it’s essential to know your subject thoroughly before asking questions. Just like understanding the food you eat, understanding your research area is crucial. Learn more about this concept in our article on the importance of knowing your subject in marketing research.

2. Make Sure Your Goal Is Clear In The Questions

A survey with good questions should have a clear goal and make sure the questions are relevant to that goal. 

A survey is only as good as its questions, so make sure that you’re asking clear questions. A poorly designed survey can end up with bad results because people will think they’ve answered it wrong or they’ll just give up on it entirely.

If you don’t know what kind of information you want to get from your survey yet, then start by asking yourself some basic Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? questions about what you hope to learn from the survey. 

Then, see if there’s any overlap between these types of basic information and anything else about how people answer them (for example: “How long has it been since we last talked?”). 

This will give you an idea of whether or not there’s any correlation between answers in one section versus another section of your survey – which means that certain types of responses may be more useful than others!

3. Keep The Survey Short, Interesting, And To The Point

This is a good rule of thumb for any survey, but especially one that you’re giving out at an event.

Or a meeting where there will be a lot of people gathered in one place who might not have much time to answer your questions or who might not be familiar with what your organization does (or even why they’re on this list in the first place). 

It’s also just good etiquette: You never know how long someone has been waiting in line or if they have somewhere else they need to be, so keep it as short as possible. 

If you are asking multiple questions within one survey (i.e., if someone gets through all nine), try breaking them into different sections so that respondents don’t feel like they’ve answered 50 questions when only 20 exist in total!

Curious about the potential of survey research? Our post on making millions of dollars with survey research dives into the strategies and success stories that demonstrate the financial benefits of effective survey methodologies.

4. Be Careful When Adding Multiple Choice Questions

When you’re adding multiple choice questions, it’s important to strike a balance between the number of options and how similar they are. 

Ideally, you want people to be able to answer the question easily (i.e., they should all be able to fit in a small space on one screen), but if they’re too similar, people will have trouble distinguishing them.

I also suggest avoiding questions with more than four options as it can be cumbersome and confusing! for participants who may want to select more than one answer. 

Another thing that I’ve learned from testing out surveys is that the wording matters just as much as having good visual design. 

For example, if you ask someone what their favorite ice cream flavor is, don’t make it too easy by writing “strawberry” or “chocolate.” Instead ask: “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” This way participants will have plenty of room for creativity when answering your question!

5. Limit The Number Of Options You Provide In Multiple Choice Answers

Make sure the answer options are mutually exclusive. This means that only one can be selected for each question, and all of the answers cannot overlap in any respect. 

For example, in a multiple-choice question about music genres, you might have an option for “country” but not one for “folk” or “rock” because these would be considered subgenres of country.

Make sure the answer options are exhaustive. This means that every possible option should be provided in some form so there is no ambiguity about what you’re asking. 

If one person doesn’t know how to answer your survey because they aren’t familiar with a certain movie genre (e.g., science fiction), then they probably won’t bother taking it at all!

Don’t use too many answers and keep them short! It can be tempting to provide lots of choices when it comes time to create your survey questions; after all, why limit yourself? 

But keep in mind that each response adds up quickly over time and becomes cumbersome for respondents to sift through their list of choices (not to mention costly). 

As long as you stick with 4-6 possible responses per question and make them as concisely worded as possible without sacrificing clarity you’ll end up saving yourself both time and energy down the line by keeping things simple from start to finish!

Exploring the art and science behind marketing research? Discover the intricate balance between creativity and methodology in our comprehensive guide to the art and science of marketing research.

6. Do Not Ask Open-Ended Questions That Deviate From Your Goal

It’s a good idea to keep your survey focused. The questions should be focused on the goal. If you find yourself asking questions that stray away from this, it might be time to go back and rewrite it or scrap it altogether. 

You don’t want to make your survey too difficult for people to answer either, so try not to ask open-ended questions like “What is your favorite color?”

7. Do Not Ask Questions With Answers That Are Too Similar To Each Other

It’s important to make sure that the answers don’t all sound alike. For example, if you ask people to rate their level of agreement with “I like hot dogs” and “I hate hot dogs,” it’s likely that many people will give the same answer for each question. 

This can cause problems if your survey results only include the number of people who gave each answer and not how they feel about something more specific than “hot dogs.”

If you do ask two questions that are too similar, don’t worry; this is easily fixed! You can add new questions in between them or change one or both so they’re not as similar anymore. 

Most importantly, though, remember that this is just one example of what could go wrong when designing surveys there are plenty of other issues we haven’t covered here!

8. Consider Doing A Couple of Test Runs With People Close To You To See If There Are Any Flaws In Your Survey

Once your survey is ready to go, consider doing a couple of test runs with people close to you to see if there are any flaws in your survey. 

You can also do this by testing the survey on a small group of people who are similar to your target audience or who have similar demographics. If possible, test the survey on a group of people who are not similar to your target audience as well.

Embarking on market research and feeling uncertain? Don’t worry – our guide on how to confidently approach market research without feeling overwhelmed provides valuable insights to help you navigate the process with confidence.

9. Make Sure All Of Your Urls Are Correct In Your Survey Before Publishing It

As you may have noticed, the survey doesn’t have any URLs. That’s not because they aren’t important, though it’s because I didn’t think to include them until it was too late!

If you’re doing a survey, make sure all of your URLs are correct before publishing it. Don’t just assume that they’ll be right; check them by pasting each URL into a browser and making sure that the page loads correctly.

Survey Design Is Much More Complicated Than I Thought

The survey I designed was not as simple as I thought it would be. It involved a lot more than just having the questions, and then running them on Google Forms.

I also learned that survey design is much more complicated than I thought. There are many different ways to ask questions.

And there are some things that you want to think about when designing your own survey (and if you don’t have an idea of what the results will look like, how can you possibly know what kind of questions you should ask?).

Market segmentation is a key strategy in effective survey design. Learn about its importance and impact on research outcomes in our article on the significance of market segmentation, and see how it ties into successful surveying practices.


Running a survey online is pretty easy. The hard part, as it turns out, is designing a good survey. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Ideally, you will start by thinking about your goal for the survey and then design the questions around that goal. 

Make sure to consider all the different types of questions you can ask (multiple-choice, short answer, etc), and think carefully about which type best fits each question. 

Once this part is done, test your survey with some people close to you so they can catch any potential problems before you send it off into the wide world of the internet. And remember if at first, you don’t succeed, just keep trying until it works!

Further Reading

Explore these resources for more insights on creating effective surveys and survey question types:

QuestionPro’s Guide to Surveys: Dive into QuestionPro’s comprehensive guide to surveys, covering various aspects from survey design to data analysis.

Mastering Different Question Types with Typeform: Typeform offers a detailed breakdown of various survey question types and how to use them effectively for gathering insights.

Crafting Better Survey Questions with Hotjar: Hotjar’s blog discusses the art of crafting survey questions that yield meaningful responses and drive actionable insights.


How can I improve the quality of my survey questions?

Crafting well-structured and clear survey questions is essential for obtaining accurate responses. Focus on using simple language, avoiding leading questions, and pre-testing your survey before distribution.

What are the different types of survey questions I can use?

There are various question types, including multiple-choice, open-ended, Likert scale, and more. Each type serves a specific purpose in gathering different types of data.

How do I ensure a high response rate for my surveys?

To boost response rates, consider using incentives, optimizing survey length, and personalizing invitations. Clearly communicate the value of participating and make the survey easily accessible across devices.

What’s the importance of survey design?

Survey design influences the quality of responses you receive. A well-designed survey considers factors like question sequence, visual layout, and mobile responsiveness, ensuring a positive user experience.

How do I analyze survey data effectively?

Effective data analysis involves cleaning and organizing your data, identifying patterns, and drawing meaningful conclusions. Utilize tools like spreadsheets or survey platforms with built-in analysis features.