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  • Writer's pictureKim Vondall

Questionnaire Design - Starting is the Hardest Part!

When working with potential clients, they often ask, how do you design a questionnaire? Although it is a standard question to ask, the answer is most definitely not standard. There may be some similarities across surveys for common metrics like Net Promoter Score, but in most cases when you begin writing a questionnaire for a new research study, you are starting from scratch. Getting started can be a very daunting task, but a good tip for starting the process is to ask the five W’s, plus one H: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? The answers to these questions not only help in survey design, but also aid in your overall research plan. Below are some common answers to these questions:


  • Customers

  • Patients

  • Consumers

  • Buyers

  • Prospects

  • Students

  • Millennials


  • Quantitative data

  • Qualitative data: In-depth interviewers, focus groups, discussion boards, etc.


  • Online

  • Mail

  • Phone

  • In-person


  • Results are needed as soon as possible or by specific date

  • One-time study

  • On-going tracker

  • Longitudinal


  • Determine brand awareness & usage

  • Gauge customer/patient satisfaction

  • Monitor customer/patient behavior

  • Create user/customer/patient profile

  • Create non-user/non-customer/non-patient profile

  • Conduct competitive analysis

  • Measure new product viability & pricing

  • Check potential market feasibility

  • Test advertising


  • Collection of data via an online panel

  • Collection of data via client provided email addresses, phone numbers, or mailing addresses

  • Collection of data via purchased list of phone numbers or mailing addresses

  • Collection of data using some combination of the above

After you answer these key questions, starting with an outline is very helpful. The two bookends of this outline are an easy place to start in that you most often start with screening and end with demographics. Middle sections are less straightforward and may vary for each survey. However, there are some larger themes that can help get you started. Below are themes for 5 major sections of a questionnaire, including some examples for each:

1. Screening: used to qualify respondents, may overlap slightly with demographics

  • Household/company decision maker

  • General household location

  • Current or past work in market research

  • Current awareness of brand or product

2. Global Questions: gauge more general/overall opinions and perceptions

  • Overall opinion

  • Overall satisfaction

  • Likelihood of future use/purchase

  • Likelihood to recommend – Net promoter score

  • Loyalty measures

3. Individual Attributes: more precise in nature, used to drill down to precise topics

  • Agreement statements about brand, experience, product usage, etc.

  • Satisfaction levels/rating of individual experience components

  • Opinion on individual pricing components

  • Choice based exercise for conjoint or MaxDiff analysis

  • Membership benefits

4. Behavior/Lifestyle questions: often used for segmentation

  • Buying/usage patterns

  • Hobbies

  • Interests

5. Demographics: used for profiling, as well as possible segmentation

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Household size

  • Household income

  • Ethnicity

  • Education level

Hopefully this helps in simplifying the process of getting started on survey design. The ANA Research Questionnaire Design Blog will be on-going. Coming up next – question wording and scaling considerations.

Please feel free to reach out to with any questions on this blog or questionnaire design in general.

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