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User feedback is the lifeblood of User Experience (UX) professionals. It provides invaluable insights into how users interact with your products and helps you make informed design decisions.

Gathering meaningful feedback requires more than just asking questions; it demands a well-structured survey that combines quantitative data (meaningful numbers that can be viewed in a graph), with qualitative insights (detailed, written responses).

In this article, we’ll delve into the art of creating feedback surveys that yield rich, actionable insights with guidance on:

  • how to structure your survey for best engagement,
  • what questions to ask, and
  • how to get great answers without leading.

Let’s get started!

1. Defining your survey objectives

Before crafting your survey, define clear objectives.

  • What do you want to achieve with the feedback?
    • measure the success of system improvements / replacements,
    • uncover usability issues,
    • evaluate feature preferences, or
    • gauge overall satisfaction?

Your objectives will guide the questions you ask and the signals for each objective will guide how the answers are structured.

For more information on how to set your survey objectives that translate to real UX value, read our article on using Google’s Heart and GSM frameworks.

2. Choosing the right question types

Effective questions are the heart of your survey.  Your users have limited time, and although this feedback is valuable, they may see it as a nuisance. Acknowledge the value of their efforts with a concise survey, and share the data to encourage future participation.

Some question types to consider:

  • Closed-ended questions (quantitative), offering predefined answer options, making it easy to analyse data quantitatively. Predefined answers can be single or multiple-choice, and where appropriate, offer an option for the user to provide their own answer.
  • Open-ended questions (qualitative), encouraging respondents to provide detailed, written responses. These are valuable for uncovering nuances and insights that quantitative data might miss.
  • Demographic questions, which helps segment responses and identify patterns among different user groups.

To view real-world questions and best practices, view example UX survey questions.

3. Structuring questions for quantitative analysis

For closed-ended questions, structure the answers to facilitate quantitative analysis (the ability to count and analyse responses). Regardless of the question type, be succinct, and ask clear, specific questions. To craft your answers, consider the metrics you want to gain from responses, and avoid bias by giving all answers a similar tone.

More information on this can be found in our example UX survey questions article.

Single-choice

Each question provides a set of answers, where each will find only one clear choice.

The Likert scale is a common go-to, but we recommend a more targeted approach that is specific to your project, pain points, business objectives and users.

Example: How proficient are you at editing content in WordPress?

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Multiple-choice

Ask a succinct and specific question, and provide users with answers that do not overlap, but offer multiple clear choices.

Example: What languages do you speak? (choose all that apply)

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

Rating scales

If you’re evaluating specific features or aspects, use rating scales (e.g., 1 to 5) to gauge satisfaction or importance on the Likert scale, or consider more specific answers for better metrics.

Example: On a scale of 1-5, please rate your satisfaction with your delivery:

  1. Very dissatisfied
  2. Dissatisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Satisfied
  5. Very satisfied

4. Balancing closed and open-ended questions

While quantitative data is essential for statistical analysis, don’t underestimate the power of qualitative insights. Use open-ended questions strategically to capture nuanced feedback. For example, follow up a rating scale question with, “Please explain your rating.”

5. Keeping it concise

Long surveys can overwhelm respondents and result in drop-offs. Keep your survey concise, focusing on the most critical questions that align with your objectives.

6. Pilot test and refine

Before launching your survey, pilot test it with a small group to identify any ambiguities or confusing questions. Refine the survey based on their feedback.

7. Implementing user-friendly design

The survey’s visual design matters.

  • Ensure it’s user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and easy to navigate.
  • Break long survey into categorised steps.
  • Implement a progress bar to manage expectations so users can see their progress.
  • Implement other gamification techniques

8: Analysis and reporting

Once you collect responses, analyse the quantitative data using statistical tools. Categorise and analyse open-ended responses qualitatively, looking for patterns, themes, and user pain points.

9. Sharing insights and taking action

Finally, share your findings with stakeholders and, most importantly, take action based on the feedback. Implement necessary improvements, and communicate changes to show users their input matters.

Tips and summary

Creating effective user feedback surveys is both an art and a science. By combining quantitative and qualitative approaches and aligning your questions with clear objectives, you can harness the power of user insights to drive UX improvements and create products that resonate with your audience.

Summary

  1. Define your survey objectives.
  2. Choose the right questions:
    • Closed-ended questions (quantitative) – single or multiple choice.
    • Open-ended questions (qualitative) – for detailed feedback.
    • Demographic questions – for data segmentation.
  3. Structure questions for quantitative analysis.
  4. Balance closed and open-ended questions.
  5. Be concise – ask only what is necessary to get the best quality data.
  6. Pilot test and refine.
  7. Implement user-friendly design.
  8. Analyse and report.
  9. Share insights and take action.

Last updated 19 Jan 2024

About the Author: Stephan

With 20 years of industry experience as a UX specialist, designer and developer, I enjoy teaching and sharing insights about UX, accessibility and best practices for e-commerce and the web.

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