You might have heard that the way you formulate your questions is crucial for a good survey and reliable outcomes. But what exactly is a good-formulated question?

If you want to create your first survey, or have little experience with surveys in general, it might be hard to distinguish between well and poorly formulated questions. That is why we prepared this checklist with useful tips for your question formulation.

1. Make sure the terminology you use is understandable for your target group.

Sometimes you might get carried away with creating the questionnaire and include complicated terminology to make it sound more professional. Although there is nothing wrong with using professional terminology, you must take into account that not all people use and understand such language.

If your survey has a broad target group, complicated scientific terms can cut your participant’s pool in half. Or maybe some people will respond without really understanding your questions. For the sake of your results, make sure to include an explanation of specific terms, or avoid them altogether.

Instead, explain it in simpler words.


How would you rate the UX of the following web pages?

(UX - specific terminology)


Rate your experience with the following websites:

(experience - familiar terminology)

2. Don’t overcomplicate your questions.

Asking two questions at the same time, including double negatives or complicated, multileveled sentences are a no-go. For one, it will confuse your participants. Moreover, it will completely mess up with your results, as you will never be sure if your question was understood correctly.

Right, you might say, but I understand those questions, therefore they are not complicated! Well, there is a good way to prove it. Try reading your questions out loud. If it’s hard to do so, most likely they are also hard to understand on paper.


Assuming you are one of our customers, clients or users, how would you rate our website in terms of usability, design and clarity?


As our client, how would you rate our website design?


As our customer, how would you rate our website’s usability?

3. Don’t break the internal logic of a survey.

The internal logic of a survey refers to the order of questions, or the topic of questions asked. A survey should feel and progress naturally, like a conversation. If you include off-topic questions or the ones that have the wrong timing, that will feel forced and confusing.

Similarly, if you include too many questions that look or are the same, eg. for control purposes, you might lose the interest and attention of your participants. 

A good idea is to split the survey into multiple parts, divided by the topic area. The questions within these topic sections should progressively become more insightful and detailed. In case of demographic questions, put them first or  last - but not in-between other questionnaire parts.

Wrong (in the order):

1. How would you rate our website?

2. What’s your age?

3. How easy was it to navigate through our website?

Right (in the order):

1. What’s your age?

2. What is your nationality?


3. How would you rate our website?

4. How easy was it to navigate through our website?

4. Make questions optional/allow middle-ground.

There’s nothing worse than making it mandatory for respondents to answer a question that does not apply to them. It can irritate and frustrate them, especially if they are not sure about their response.

That is why you should always include a middle-ground answer, or the ‘skip this question’ option, which will allow a participant to opt-out of answering. Obviously, not all questions should be optional - because this will allow people to turn out empty questionnaires. Instead, suggest options such as ‘Maybe’ or “Not sure’.


Will you use our website for future research purposes?

  • Yes.
  • No.


Will you use our website for future research purposes?

  • Yes. 
  • Maybe.
  • No.

5. Use neutral language.

When you hope for certain results, you might get carried away with the language you use. Some phrases carry emotions that might give away your intent. “How much did you enjoy our service?” or “How much do you dislike waiting for a page to load?”.

Observe how to enjoy and to dislike are emotionally charged terms, which will push participants into choosing more favourable items. This is precisely why you should mind the language you use.


How much did you like our website?


How would you rate our website?

That’s it! Hopefully, you now have an idea where to start with your questionnaire and what mistakes you should be mindful of. Please visit our blog for more survey-related tips and content!