Jump to main content

1. Questionnaire

A list of questions sent to users to find out what they think or feel about particular issues. 
Can be printed or emailed.

Woman filling out a form


Usually used in the early stages to identify issues and areas for further research.


  • Choose the right type of question to get the type of information you want, i.e. structured, semi-structured or open questions
  • The format needs to reflect the type of answer required for each question
  • Decide on a delivery method, whether it will be completed online, sent by email or post, or whether the investigator will be present


  • A relatively quick and cost, effective way to reach a large number of users
  • Good for access to users who may live far away or for those who wish to remain anonymous
  • The standardised format makes it suitable for comparison between different users
  • Both quantitative and qualitative information can be gathered. You can ask for written responses or tick boxes
  • A good way of getting a broad overview of a subject where no other information is available


  • Leading questions can bias responses 
  • It is hard to predict or control the response rate
  • Explanations cannot be given to a user who does not understand a question unless the investigator is present
  • Questionnaires can seem impersonal, making users less likely to engage
  • No access to observable context or behaviour, and responses are limited to things of which a user is conscious
  • The information gathered can be dry or uninspiring and not visually compelling


  1. Find people willing to participate and include an introduction to the study along with your questionnaire to give them context.
  2. Consider the needs of your users when writing the questionnaire. For example, those who are not computer literate or are visually impaired will have different requirements.
  3. Aim for the questionnaire to take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete.
  4. Trial the questionnaire with a colleague first, then edit it to improve the clarity and ease of use.
  5. Focus on the topics that interest you. Do not try to cover everything, or the user will lose interest. 
  6. Make the questions simple and clear. Avoid negatives in the question, as these may influence the response. 
  7. Use tick boxes, scales, ranks and charts to reduce writing tasks.
  8. Formatting is very important. Think about the sequence of questions, break them into sections and use pictures where appropriate. Indicate the type of response expected for each section.
  9. Send the questionnaire to more people than you require, as the response rate is unpredictable. Quantitative surveys require a larger sample to achieve meaningful results.
  10. Use an online questionnaire maker where appropriate, as these can manage and sort the data for you.


  • Interviews: a questionnaire can serve as a topic guide for an interview or the basis for a follow-up interview allowing the users responses to be explored in greater detail
  • Research kits: a questionnaire can be included as part of a research kit to gather background information


  • Gaining a broad overview of a topic and asking preliminary questions to prepare for further investigation
  • Gathering quantitative evidence to support further investigation
  • Getting information on specific topics where no other information exists