Does Survey Design Impact Your Response Rate?

How does survey design impact response rates?

  1. Type of Question
  2. Question Numbering
  3. Question-Wording
  4. Question Order
  5. Visual Layout

More and more organizations are utilizing surveys to gather information, draw conclusions, and make important decisions. Ideally, surveys should be well-designed to provide accurate and unbiased data. But sometimes, they’re not. This is what makes people wonder about the question, “does survey design impact the response rate?”. Simply put, the answer is yes. 

Survey design is a multifaceted process that requires attention to several details. The response rate may rely heavily on varying design factors because survey questions can be asked in different ways. However, if you take the time to identify these factors, you can improve your response rates by selecting the design that will best entice your respondents.

Whether you’re planning to improve your survey design or learning more about boosting response rates, look no further. Here are some of the factors in the survey design that impact response rates. 

Type of Question  

Wooden dices with question mark

When creating a survey, one of the first decisions to make is the type of question. There are options for open-ended questions, where respondents provide an answer in their own words, and closed-ended questions, where they are provided a list of answer options. 

The type of question is a fundamental decision for the survey design as it can impact response rates. In one poll administered by Pew Research Center, respondents were asked about what issue mattered most to them when voting for a president. When a list of options was offered, 58% chose the answer “economy”, while only 35% of respondents who had the open-ended version answered the economy. 

These results can be due to closed-ended questions taking less time to answer. Since the respondents found it much easier to analyze the question and choose an answer, it impacted response rates. Open-ended questions also open the floodgates to response bias. Just consider the impact of the type of questions on your own survey’s response rates.  

Question Numbering 

In one study, a company analyzed response rates across 100,000 random surveys. The surveys had questions with numbering that ranged from 1 to 50. As expected, the more questions asked, the fewer respondents completed the questionnaire. 

When it comes to survey design, the question numbering is naturally going to impact response rates. If you are trying to optimize your survey and ensure all respondents answer it completely, it would be best to keep it short.


Wood blocks

The choice of words in a question plays a big role in the way the respondents perceive the question intent. 

The words you choose to incorporate into your survey question will have an impact on response rates. In this factor of survey design, it is important to ask questions that are clear and specific.  

Be straightforward with your questions as well. Remember that even the smallest wording differences can mean fewer respondents completing your survey because they do not understand the question. In order to create the most ideal questions, take note of the main goal of your survey and how you are planning to apply it to your company.

Question Order

Believe it or not, the order of the questions can impact the response rate as well. Pay particular attention to how your survey design’s question order is arranged. Here, you must be attentive to how the first question can impact how respondents answer the next set of questions. 

A survey is just like a conversation. Therefore, it should be grouped by topics and administered in a logical order. Earlier questions need to provide context for the questions that follow. This is what helps establish rapport and motivates respondents to answer the survey.   

Throughout the survey, it would be best to keep the survey interesting. If you want to boost response rates, avoid bombarding your respondents with consecutive hard to answer questions.  

Visual Layout 

Visual Layout

All kinds of surveys have different designs. Some have minimalist themes while others incorporate all kinds of background colors in hope of making their survey more appealing. 

Research suggests that visual IQ is rising more than any other form of IQ. This is the best time for you to pay attention to the look of your survey aesthetics. Ensure it’s on-brand, easy to read, and appealing to your target respondents. 

Key Takeaway

When it comes to the question “Does survey design impact response rate?”, the answer is staggering yes. If you want your surveys to be completed, keep questions clear, straightforward, and even visually pleasing. 

Surveys can provide accurate and unbiased data that can’t be acquired from other research methods. Take note of this article to create the best survey through a WordPress survey tool.

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