Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Qualitative Survey

What are common mistakes made when making a qualitative survey?

  1. Asking questions beginning with “why”
  2. Using quantitative words
  3. Making your own survey tool
  4. Forgetting to test your survey
  5. Using a complicated format
  6. Not providing all possible options
  7. Asking too many questions
  8. Asking leading questions


Qualitative surveys are made up of open-ended questions and are great for gathering in-depth information. There are many advantages to conducting surveys such as convenience and accessibility to many people. Online tools like the WordPress survey tool have made the process of survey-making incredibly easy and quick. However, the only difficult part is coming up with the best survey questions possible for your research or customer service survey. Here are some mistakes to avoid when making a qualitative survey.

Asking questions beginning with “why”

Blackboard question mark

When making questions for a qualitative survey, it is important to avoid asking any “why” questions since this implies cause and effect. Instead, qualitative survey questions typically begin with “how” or “what”. One tip when formulating questions is to make the event or phenomenon that you want your respondents to describe or explain clear in your question. One example of a qualitative question is, “How would you describe your experiences with online shopping?”.

Using quantitative words

Another mistake to avoid is using quantitative words like “relate”, “influence”, “effect”, and “cause” in your questions. Obviously, using quantitative words in questions would no longer make these qualitative in nature. Additionally, using these words can prevent you from retrieving the type of information that you are looking for, or can result in skewed data.

Making your own survey tool

Making your own survey tool is a waste of time and resources when there are so many platforms already available. There is a wide range of online survey tools to choose from which make the process of conducting surveys convenient. For instance, the WordPress survey tool is a free and accessible tool that you can easily use in conducting surveys.

Forgetting to test your survey

One of the most common mistakes made in survey making is forgetting to test a survey before releasing it. You can test your survey by having colleagues or friends answer your questions and give feedback. This will ensure that your survey is clear, understandable, and effective. This will also give you the chance to revise your survey and ask the best survey questions possible.

Using a complicated format

Notebook Planning

To make sure that everyone will be able to understand and finish answering your survey, stick to simple formats that are easy to navigate. It is also important to keep your instructions short and simple. One tip is to limit all instructions to just one line or sentence. Additionally, it would be best to clearly indicate whether certain questions are “optional” or “required”. You cannot assume that everyone understands the red asterisk as a symbol for “required”, it would be best to spell it out instead.

Not providing all possible options

Another common mistake is to not provide all possible options, including “not applicable” or “other”. Respondents often become annoyed when they are forced to answer questions that do not apply to them or that they cannot answer truthfully. When not presented with a “not applicable” or “other” option, respondents may either provide fake answers or give up on the survey entirely. To prevent these from happening, make sure to include all possible options in your survey.

Asking too many questions

Asking Too Many Questions

Qualitative surveys tend to take more time to answer because of the use of open-ended questions that often require lengthy answers. Because of this, asking too many questions can discourage people from answering or finishing. To prevent this from happening, make sure to keep your survey as short as possible. The best would be to limit your survey to just one question because more often than not, every added question will lessen your response rate. But at the same time, asking more questions can work given that your respondents are highly motivated. Another tip when asking numerous questions is to place the most important questions first and record any partial or unfinished surveys. This way, you still have the information you need whether or not respondents finish your survey.

Asking leading questions

Leading questions are suggestive questions that prompt respondents to give the desired answer. Asking this type of question will result in invalid responses because respondents will be lead to give answers that are not necessarily what they really think or believe. Thus, it is important to avoid this by asking neutral questions that do not give away your expectations or desired results.

Key Takeaway

Qualitative surveys are a very helpful tool, but only when done right. When creating any type of survey, it is important to keep it as short and simple as you possibly can so that anyone will be able to understand and answer accurately.

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