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  • Writer's picturerahulmd

3 Tips For User Surveys

Updated: May 3, 2023

Last saturday, a good friend of mine who is working in the founders office of a Logistics startup sent me a survey for feedback before she sent it out to the target audience.

I had 2 key inputs:

1. Keep It Short & Simple

Survey respondents will never be knowledgeable and passionate about your solution idea as you are. They could be passionate about the problem depending on how much of a blocker it is to their success.

So you want to keep the survey questions short and simple. As part of keeping it simple, you want to stay away jargon and abbreviations in your survey questions.

2. Avoid Open Ended Questions

Avoid asking open ended questions in surveys and stick to close ended questions. For example avoid asking things like "what are the things you find most frustrating about the current situation". Here you are asking them to think and list out things. Instead ask "Which of the following are the most frustrating aspects". Here you are listing out things and asking them to pick. In the classes I have taken on User Research, participants have a hard time appreciating the cognitive load open ended questions put on respondents. I ask them to think of the times they took a survey, at work or for some product, and how many times they bothered to give qualitative feedback for open ended questions? To drive home the point, I give them a sample survey and they usually click through open ended questions without even reading! I typically put in NA as my response for mandatory open ended question and move forward :-)

She wanted to know how to identify the options to include in the close ended survey questions. The best source of options for close ended questions - User Interviews! You should ask a LOT of open ended questions during your user interviews to explore and identify possibilities. In the user survey, you want to validate and quantify and the possibilities. We will look at this in next week's post.

Bonus Tip - Pilot before you Blast

When sending out a survey to say 100 respondents, you want to pilot it with 3-4 sample respondents to make sure they understand the questions and are able to complete the survey successfully and you are getting meaningful inputs. There is nothing worse than sending out to everyone and then realising that there was a fundamental error in the survey structure.

When my friend sent it to me for feedback before sending it to her target audience, she was doing exactly that - Pilot before the Blast!


If your user surveys are not really giving you the insights you need, lets talk...

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