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How do I create an online questionnaire?

10 tips for designing an online survey

The thesis is pending or the boss comes into the office and gives you the task of creating an online survey. There you sit now and ask yourself "What now?" or “Where do I start?” - don't panic, this is where you will find support.

Step by step, you will receive tips and information on what to consider when creating an online survey and how you can improve the quality of your questionnaire.

In this article

Creation process of an online questionnaire
10 tips for your online survey
Now her!

Creation process of an online questionnaire

Creating an online questionnaire can initially seem like a mountain that is almost impossible to climb. But once you recognize what is required in which phase and what you should concentrate on, you will reach your goal faster - your questionnaire. And first of all, I would like to point out that compromises have to be made from time to time in this process as well.

In general, you go through 4 phases during the creation process, which are closely related. The process requires an iterative running through of the phases in order to achieve continuous improvements.

In the beginning you diagnose that Origin of the questionnaire, so to a certain extent the reason for creating the online survey. Define the problem behind the survey and formulate the research questions.

Work out, at best together with the decision-makers, the basis on which the survey should be carried out. Do you already have data? What decisions should be made based on the survey results?

The answers to these questions give you clues, quasi coordinates where the questionnaire should lead.


From this diagnosis you can now determine the Purpose of the questionnaire. Make sure you understand what the survey aims to achieve. Do you need certain results and data for the decision-makers and can these even be measured by a survey?

You should also make it clear to yourself who you want to address, i.e. who will be the target group of the survey, and outline both the characteristics of the survey group and the requirements that the respondent has when answering their questionnaire.


Interesting characteristics of the target groups can be, for example, the level of knowledge and education, professional functions and personal data such as age or income.


Prioritize the worked out aspects according to their importance and measurability. This lays the foundation for qualitative data collection and does not help you lose your way or bother with unimportant questions.


Let's move on to the content-related part of the online questionnaire. In this phase, formulate your questionnaire, that is Generate questionsthat should appear in your questionnaire. Just get started and collect your questions!

Think of the results so far - what is the purpose and to whom are the questions asked? Put yourself in the position of the respondents in order to formulate appropriate questions in a short and understandable way.

Further tips on what to look for when formulating and structuring the questions can be found in the further course of the article.


When your collection of questions is ready, it follows Analyze the questions. Check that your questions serve the purpose of the survey and that you can get the answers and data you want. Make sure that your questions can also be linked to statistical tests, i.e. the answers should be measurable and comparable.



Get tips and hints below!

10 tips for your online survey

During the creation process of an online survey, many questions often come to mind in every phase, you want to think of everything and you quickly feel overwhelmed. Below are 10 steps and related questions you can ask yourself to stay on top of things and actually create a survey that gives you useful data and results.


1. Is an online survey the right method?

You should have asked yourself this question at the beginning. It is important to have the right one for achieving the goal method applies. An online survey does not help you if you want to research facial expressions and gestures, as well as reactions from the respondents to certain questions or if you want to make visual observations - however, it can be very advantageous for other topics, such as anonymous surveys or surveys with a large sample.


2. What is the purpose of the survey?

It is helpful to answer this question right from the start. A precise one Formulation of goals helps you stay on the right track and not wander.

Define what insights the survey should provide, who the survey results are for, and who the respondents will be.

Specify the basis of the survey - is there already data on your topic and a data development should be considered, or is new data being collected to prove or disprove a hypothesis?


Once the goal has been formulated and you have determined which findings your survey should provide, then you need to tackle the content of the survey.


3. Which questions should be answered?

Think about which questions to ask, which questions can give you the answers and data you want.

Prioritize Which questions are important to fulfill the purpose of the survey and which questions can be left out if necessary - because the respondents do not want to answer irrelevant questions.

Short questionnaires increase the concentration and motivation of the respondents and thus also the quality and quantity of the survey.

Put yourself in the shoes of a respondent and evaluate your questions from their perspective.


4. Can and do the respondents even want to answer the question?

To do this, you defined the target group at the beginning. Make it clear again who will answer the survey.

Do the respondents even have the necessary knowledge to answer or is certain information even allowed to be given?

It is important that the questions are addressed to and relevant to the target audience so that respondents stay focused.

Keep the effort to answer the questions as low as possible or legitimize a higher effort.

Also, pay attention to the topics or areas you ask about. Respondents could be put off by sensitive or overly personal questions.


5. What structure should the questions have?

To find the right one Structure for the questions to find one should bring back the purpose of the question in question. What is this question for?

Use rating scales, which should, however, remain the same in their structure and structure within the questionnaire.

Avoid yes / no questions in order to take into account the opinion of the undecided and therefore give the opportunity to answer the question neutrally.


For example, with answer options such as “don't know” or “I am undecided”, you do not falsify the result, as those who are undecided do not have to decide on an option. You should therefore also give positive and negative options to a question, not just “good” and “very good”, but also, for example, “rather not good” or “bad”.


Use closed questions - give pre-formulated answer options to choose from in order to be able to absorb and analyze the opinions of the respondents more easily. For multiple choice questions, give as many relevant answer options as possible that you can think of and make sure that neutral answers are also possible here.

If there are numerous possible answers, divide them up into several questions. Concentrate on questions that directly serve the purpose and aim of the survey and filter your collection of questions accordingly.


Present the answers in vertical columns in order to generate a clear and structured appearance.

An online survey tool can help you choose the types of questions and give you tips on which type is intended for what.


6. How do you formulate your questions?

Make sure that the choice of words is adapted to the group of respondents and avoid technical terms if the survey is addressed to non-specialist subjects, for example.

The formulation should be understandable and unambiguous for the respondent.

Keep the questions short and precise. Use information on questions so that no misunderstandings occur and the result is not falsified. Do not allow any implicit assumptions.

Only one thought should be taken up in a question. Use positive and negative formulations for this, this brings variety for the respondents.

Avoid their personal opinions or judgments, as well as excessive numbers and data in their questions.


7. In what order should the questions be arranged?

The Order of questions plays a major role in the quality of a survey.

Start with simple questions that are interesting and thematically introduce the survey or that identify a qualification of the respondents.

Group your questions and don't jump back and forth between topics. Structure the questionnaire in a logical way - go from general, simple and demographic questions to confidential, sensitive or difficult questions.

If you use branches or branching logic in your questionnaire, an individual path is created through the questionnaire, since the respondent is directed to a specific next question based on his answer.

Ensure a higher concentration and motivation while answering the questionnaire and increase the quality and quantity of your data collection.


8. How should the questionnaire be designed?

As is so often the case, the first impression counts here too. Make sure you have a clear and structured layout of your questionnaire.

Use a separate page for each question or insert sections.

Numbering the questions helps the respondents to orientate themselves. If you create and send several questionnaires, number them as well.

A visually appealing questionnaire and a professional-looking layout increase the willingness to answer.


9. Are you satisfied with your design and have you thought of everything?

Go through your design - from rough to detailed. Does your layout look professional? Does the questionnaire appear structured and clear? Did you add a question and numbering per page?

Make your own impression of your draft, get more Opinions a.


10. What problems do you have and should anything else be changed?

This is the final step in the process of creating an online survey Testing. Put everything to the test - from optics to choice of questions and choice of words.

First test randomly with 15-30 respondents who should belong to the target group and record their comments and suggestions.

Sending and disseminating the questionnaire should be done in the same way as planned for the final survey. Here, too, it is important to concentrate on the target group, whether a link is published in social media, a QR code is generated and distributed or the survey is sent by email. Reach exactly the people in your target group and ensure a high response with the correctly chosen method of distribution.

Constantly improve your questionnaire and continue to iron out errors and problems.

Now her!

Shimmy along the steps and questions outlined in this article to create your own engaging online questionnaire.


Have fun!


Cedric Keuper


Sources for research and familiarization with the topic

Malhotra, Birks. Marketing Research, An Applied Approach. Updated Second European Edition. Prentice Hall Financial Times, an imprint of Pearson Education. 2006