Sunday, March 30, 2008

Less is more

If you haven’t been following this thread, it’s all about Terrible Questionnaires. The focus is on online surveys and I’m making suggestions on how to avoid writing or commissioning them.

Here’s the first tip: keep them short.

I thought everyone knew about this. But I keep getting 20 minute long (sometimes longer!) questionnaires. Even if I’m interested in the topic, 20 minutes is too long. I get tired and bored.

“But I can’t make it shorter. I need to know about X, Y and Z!” you say emphatically. Well, you also need to know that if your questionnaire is too long, the quality and usefulness of the data you collect will be compromised.

5 minutes. In most cases, I reckon that’s about how long you’ve got before respondents tune out. Flick the “nice to know” and focus on the “need to know” information.

If it must be longer, schedule several sessions (and incentives) over time. Believe me, if the questionnaire is too long, and your respondents get bored and tired, you’ll get rubbish.

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