How to Design a Survey: 7 Tips to Consider

Last Updated: September 13, 2021

Is your company taking full advantage of the power of surveys and assessments? 

Studies show that 42% of companies don’t survey their customers. I don’t want you to be in that 42% and here’s why…

Surveys and assessments help you collect valuable data. Data that uncover opportunities for improvement.

For example, knowing what is going on in your customers’ and prospects’ minds will give you clarity on their challenges and the products they need to solve them. These insights will help you improve the customer journey and develop new products or services, or improve the existing ones.

Getting this information through surveys or assessments, however, is both challenging and intimidating. Misleading feedback leads to bad decisions. You don’t want to spend money on a product your prospects and customers don’t need. 

Better still, you don’t want to risk ruining your reputation by sending out irrelevant marketing messages that don’t resonate with them. And that’s why you decided to conduct a survey or assessment in the first place. 

To design a high-quality survey or assessment, you have to first think like a human (and not a bot) and secondly, understand what actually goes into an assessment. 

Knowing this will increase the quality of responses you get and the insights you derive from analyzing these responses. 

To help you do that, this blog post covers seven tips on how to design your next survey or assessment.

1. Make Sure Your Question Is Relevant to the Respondent

Your questions should guide your respondents to give you the most relevant information. If they are too broad or too specific, you won’t get any meaningful data as you analyze the responses you get. 

Broad questions won’t direct your respondents to give you relevant answers in your assessment. Say, for instance, you’re conducting an employee assessment, and you want to understand them better. Here’s how a broad assessment question would look like:

  • What are your weaknesses?

The answers you get will be all over the place and it will be difficult for you to identify a trend or a significant theme from such a question. 

Specific questions, on the other hand, might make your respondents wonder whether the assessment has anything to do with them. They’ll either avoid your questions or give you irrelevant answers.

Taking our earlier example, here’s how it would look like when it is too specific:

  • What is your biggest weakness when it comes to optimizing click-through rates in our PPC campaigns?

Such a question is only relevant to employees who run PPC campaigns in the marketing department. It alienates everyone else who doesn’t understand what PPC campaigns and click-through rates mean.

How to Create Relevant Questions

So when considering the quality of the questions you ask, aim to strike a balance between being too specific and being too broad. Here are two ideas you have to keep in mind when assessing the quality of your questions:

  1. Do my questions ask about a specific challenge they’re struggling with or a particular experience they are familiar with?
  2. Is it something that relates to a significant portion of my respondents?

Use a mindmap to make sure that each question fits into these two markers to avoid being too broad or being too specific. 

Here’s how a balanced employee assessment question example would look like:

  • When it comes to handling workplace conflicts, what is your biggest weakness?

Workplace conflicts bother most employees, and everyone who works in your company has dealt with one. 

If you’re designing an assessment to conduct market research, on the other hand, you want to keep the same things in mind and not go too broad or too specific.

I’ve found that using a drop-down menu with 3-4 choices works best for these questions rather than leaving it up to the user to type in a long-text answer. 

By keeping the questions direct and the answer choices specific, you prevent a number of distractions or overwhelm that could lead the respondent off the page.

Additionally, you can design your survey answers more interactive with custom visuals. A festival survey from KAABOO Del Mar asked users a simple question, but allowed them to answer via an interactive map.

Interactive Map Survey Question ExampleSource

The results? A 69% completion rate and 1,700 highly valuable responses.

Avoid Response Bias

If your questions are ambiguous or unclear, you can get responses that influence your assessment data negatively.

Keep your questions as objective as possible by avoiding leading questions. Leading questions imply a desired answer. For example: “How sad are you to hear this service is not available anymore?” This question contains a loaded emotion, in this case, being sad. Instead, ask a more open question: “What is your opinion on the fact that this service is not available anymore?” 

This is often challenging: Even if you optimize your questions to the fullest, you don’t have the respondent under control. What I mean, is that the respondent can still answer your question untruthfully, whether or not it’s conscious.  

So emphasize the fact that there is no judgement, no “right” or “wrong” answer, and that the responses are being processed anonymously. This will give the respondent the freedom to answer honestly.

Check Your Questions for Readability

Another element that is just as critical as the actual questions is the readability.

Not sure what I mean? I’m referring to spelling and grammar here. Be sure to use a grammar checker tool like Grammarly or WhiteSmoke when writing out your questions…

Otherwise, risk losing all credibility the moment a user stumbles upon a spelling error (it happens to the best of us…)

2. Use a Mix of Open-Ended vs. Close-Ended Questions

The level of detail you are looking for in your responses should guide you on the format of questions you will use. There are two types of question formats; open and close-ended questions. When creating your assessment questions, use a writing app to test these two formats for relevance and how easy it will be to respond. 

When to Use Open-Ended  Questions

When you want to dig deeper to know what your respondents think or feel about your products, use open-ended questions. 

Example Of When To Use Open Ended Questions

Their responses will give you more insights on their challenges, pain points, and what they need when looking for a solution that your product solves. 

To use this Customer Needs Assessment example, sign up for Pointerpro, and choose ‘Customer Needs Assessment’ as a template when designing a new survey.

Besides, the amount of detail they provide and the words they use will tell you how they speak when describing their problems. This information will help you create marketing messages that resonate with them. 

When to Use Close-Ended Questions

Aim to strike a balance between both formats to make it easier for your respondents to fill out your assessment. Use close-ended question format on multiple-choice, rating scale, and Likert scale type of questions because they are straightforward and easy to answer. 

Example Of When To Use Closed Ended Questions

To use a sample business assessment like this, sign up for Pointerpro, and choose ‘Business Assessment’ as your template when designing a new survey.

3. Group Your Questions by Theme

Your questions should appear in a logical manner- one that would make sense if you were having a real-life conversation with the respondent. Sort your assessment questions into specific themes that will guide you on how they will appear in your assessment. 

Question Themes to Include in Your Survey

Here are three common themes that your assessment should have:

  1. Product information questions: These help you understand how your respondents perceive your product. Do they need it? What other features do you need to include?
  2. Demographic information questions: age, gender, marital status, and income
  3. Contact information questions: Email address or phone number

For example, let’s say I wanted to start a blog that reviews different project management software and platforms

Assuming I narrowed down my target audience and already knew the demographics, I’d send out a survey to my list that includes product information questions. 

That way, I can understand which features are most important to users, so I could keep these features in mind when reviewing different platforms.

After I gathered enough information, I’d then write a post that compares team management tools like Monday or Asana and tie them back to the results from the assessment.

This way, it’s a win-win for both my audience and myself. I solve their problems and connect them to the solutions that fit their needs, and also have a higher chance of them using my affiliate link to sign up for the software. 

Just be sure to put questions with related themes together in your assessment to avoid confusion and make it easy for your respondents to answer. 

4. Keep the Length of Your Survey Reasonable to Increase Response Rates 

Since online assessments are easy to create and send out to respondents, you find yourself including every question that will help you get as much information as you can from them.

Would adding one more question in your assessment hurt your response rate? To help us answer that, let’s start by looking at the average survey response rate:

Average Survey Response Rate By Survey MethodSource

Survey fatigue is partly responsible for such a low response rate. Respondents feel tired answering each question, which affects the quality of the responses you get. 

In an Opinionlab study, 52% of respondents said they wouldn’t spend more than three minutes on an assessment. There you have it- one more question will hurt your response rate. 

So, how much time are your respondents likely to spend on your assessment? Use a time app to test how much time you’ll spend answering your assessment questions. If your assessment takes more than three minutes, find ways to reduce the time spent through:

  • Asking fewer questions
  • Using one open-ended question
  • Ensuring your questions are clear and easy to understand
  • Relying on question logic to ask relevant questions

5. Use a Visually Appealing Survey Format

Great visual design shows that your brand cares about your customers and prospects. They also have expectations on how great visual design should look like. The first impression they have about you determines whether they will interact with your content, and most importantly, fill in your assessment. 

An assessment with poor visual design hurts your brand image and the quality of the responses you get. To avoid this, use plain background colors because they reduce the number of distractions you have on each question. The respondent will only focus on answering your questions. 

Visually Appealing Solid Color Survey BackgroundSource

If you want to use images, make sure that they don’t overshadow your questions. Respondents might have trouble reading your questions, making them either skip them or abandon the assessment. 

Visually Appealing Image Background for SurveySource

Use your logo maker, brand colors, and font sizes in the first and last pages of your assessment to boost your credibility.

6. Make Your Survey Easy for Respondents to Fill Out

In order to collect data easily, you’ll have to ensure the survey or assessment is easy to fill out in the first place. This incentivizes respondents to take and complete the survey.

First, you will want to ensure that you have scheduled emails for your target list to deliver the survey in the first place.

Let’s say you just hosted a webinar to move leads through your sales funnel…

Chances are, users had to provide their email address when registering, right?

Your best bet to measure the webinar’s success is by sending out an automated email afterward with your assessment. Don’t wait. Do it while it’s fresh on their mind.  

Not to mention… Automated emails have 165% higher open rates and are 15X more likely to convert… Need I say more?

Provide your respondents with an efficient way to fill in your survey or assessment through mobile surveys and live chat as well. You want to show them that you are easily accessible so they can communicate with you anytime.

In 2018, 52.2% of all internet traffic came from mobile devices. 

Consumers have more social and business interactions through their mobile devices. If you’re running a customer satisfaction survey, optimizing it for mobile devices means that you will get higher response rates and real-time feedback. 

Optimize Your Survey for Mobile To Get Higher Response RatesSource

Another convenient way for your respondents to fill in your assessment is through live chat. Research by Kayako reveals that 63% of consumers who spend $250-$500 buying products and services online each month will buy from and stay loyal to a business that offers live chat on their website. 

Don’t believe me yet? Research has shown that 92% of customers prefer live chat to speaking to an agent… As long as the response time is reasonable. 

Nobody wants to be waiting decades whether it’s on live chat or to speak to an agent.

7. Don’t Forget to Analyze the Results of Your Survey

Once you collect your feedback, the next step is to analyze the responses you get to derive meaningful insights from your data. Pointerpro has inbuilt analysis tools that will help you identify common trends that emerge Focus on the significant trends in your feedback that will guide you on the best way to move forward in your business. 


A well-designed survey or assessment helps you eliminate guesswork by knowing what your customers and prospects need. However, few people have mastered the art of designing good surveys or assessments. 

Instead of just creating an assessment and “hoping” that you’ll get the responses you’re looking for, why not use the ideas we’ve discussed above? 

The responses you get and the insights you derive from your analysis might as well help you do a better job serving your customers and prospects. The result? More sales, revenue, loyalty, and referrals…

Just ask the 83% of customers who are more than happy to provide referrals following a positive experience.

So, start by defining your goals and then brainstorm a few questions to ask your respondents. 

Then sign up for a free trial and start designing your survey or assessment. Come back to this post and check off each idea as you work on your assessment.

It will take some work and testing to get it right. But with this list of good survey design examples and templates to help you get started, you can’t go wrong. 

About the author:

Adam Enfroy writes about how to scale your blog like a startup to 150,000 monthly readers at He launched his blog in 2019 and started generating over $35,000/month in revenue within 9 months. He wants to teach new bloggers how to do the same.

You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and his world travels on Instagram.

About the author:
Adam Enfroy

Adam Enfroy

Adam Enfroy writes about how to scale your blog like a startup to 150,000 monthly readers at He launched his blog in 2019 and started generating over $35,000/month in revenue within 9 months. He wants to teach new bloggers how to do the same. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and his world travels on Instagram.

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