Before you start

Before you go into any survey tool or write any questions, be sure you know:

  • Exactly what you want to find out
  • From whom
  • How you’re going to use that information when you're done

Writing your form

Your opening text should clearly explain the purpose of the form and how the person's information will be used. If it's a longer survey, include how long the form might take to complete.

In your opening text or invitation, let the person know that they can skip any questions they prefer not to answer. Use the options in your chosen form tool to indicate required questions.

Organize your questions in ways that build comfort and confidence. Start with easy questions before moving on to more difficult or sensitive ones. Ask your most important questions before less important ones. (And ask yourself if you really need the answer to the less important question.) Don't ask sensitive questions unless you need to.

Group your questions together logically. If there's a "normal" order to how people think about the information you want, use that to make it easier for them!

In phrasing your questions, be brief and grammatically simple. Use words that will be familiar to your audience.

If you're surveying people for their opinions, try to avoid leading questions and biased language. You may also want to randomize the order of list options, allow people to skip questions, or allow people to answer anonymously.

Before you launch, test with a few people who weren't involved in creating the survey or form. They may catch things (weird questions, errors, typos) that you haven't noticed!

More resources

Looking for more helpful tips on creating good surveys? Check out this presentation from Content Strategy Incorporated.