A question is defined as a sentence that seeks an answer for the purpose of information collection, tests and research. Good questions produce accurate responses and this aids in collecting actionable quantitative and qualitative data.
Questions have over the years evolved to different question types to now collect different sets of information. The types of question used in a research study are decided by the information required, nature of the study, time that the respondent has, their willingness to participate and the time and budget constraints of a study.
The art of asking the right questions helps to gain deep insights, take informed decisions and develop effective solutions. To know how to ask good questions, it is imperative to know the basic question types.
Below are some widely used types of questions with sample examples of these question types:
The dichotomous question is generally a "yes/no" close-ended question. This question is generally used in case of the need of basic validation. It is also used to distinguish from in-between people that have had some or any form of interaction with your brand. In the below example, a yes or no question is used to understand if the person has ever used your online store to make a purchase. The respondents that answer “Yes” can be bunched together and the respondents that answer “No” can be bunched together and both can be asked different questions.
Multiple choice questions are a question type in which a respondent has to select one (single select multiple choice question) or many (multiselect multiple choice question) responses from a given list of options. The multiple choice question is consisted of an incomplete stem (question), right answer or answers, incorrect answers, close alternatives and distractors. Not all questions would have all of the above and these guidelines can be used as deemed fit or that best matches the expected outcome of the question. Typically, single select questions are denoted by radio buttons and multi select questions are denoted by check-boxes. An example of a multiselect multiple choice question, is a bank that would like to launch a new credit card and wants to understand the usage of payment merchants would ask the following:
This helps the bank understand the preference of payment merchant and use that in their new product launch.
The rank order question type allows the respondent to rank preferences in a question in the order of choice. This question type is used to understand the weightage that is offered by respondents to each option. The other type of rank order question is a drag and drop question type where the respondent can rearrange options on the basis of importance. An example of a rank order question is a sporting good store looking to understand from respondents their choice of sports and in what order they would place them.
A text slider question is a rating scale question type that uses an interactive slider in the answer to select the most appropriate answer in a question. The scale is well-defined and on an equal continuum. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and intensity of attitudes. The example mentioned above can also be depicted by a text slider where either end of the option has an anchor.
Likert Scale is one of the most used tools by market researchers when they want to evaluate the opinions and attitudes of their target audience. This type of question is essential in measuring a respondent's opinion or attitude towards a given subject. The scale is typically a five, seven, or nine point agreement scale used to measure respondents' agreement with a variety of statements. Likert scales are either unipolar, where it indicates a respondent to think of the presence or absence of a quality and bipolar, where it indicates a respondent to balance two different qualities, defining the relative proportion of those qualities. For example, if a telecom company would like to understand the respondent’s satisfaction level with their services, the question that can be asked is:
Semantic differential scale is a type of question that asks people to rate a product, company, brand or any "entity" within the frames of a multi-point rating options. These survey answering options are grammatically on opposite adjectives at each end. For example, if the national health association would like to collect feedback on Government insurance policies from the general public, the following question could be administered.
The stapel scale question is defined as a rating scale that is close-ended with a single adjective (unipolar), developed to gather respondent insights about a particular subject or event. The survey question is comprised of an even number of response options without a neutral point. For example if an airline would like to collect feedback on multiple attributes of a respondent’s flying experience.
Constant Sum question is also a rank order question type where the respondent can only select options in the form of numerics. A constant sum question allows respondents to enter numerical values for a set of variables, but requires the values to add up to a pre-specified total. Each numeric entry is summed and can be displayed to the respondent. This is a great question type to use when asking financial, budget related questions or percentage based questions. An example of this question type is to collect data on how respondents allocate monthly budgets on the basis of their income.
The comment box open-ended question is used to collect any feedback or suggestions that could be very long. They are open text format such that the respondent can answer based on their complete knowledge, feelings and understanding. Hence, this question type is used when the organization conducting the study would like justification of a selection in a prior question or also when extensive feedback is required from the respondent.
A text question is similar in nature to a comment box but the data that can be inputted in a text-box is generally regulated and requires validation. This type of question has three sub-types namely; single row text (one line of text can be inputted, for example, house address), numeric textbox (only numbers can be entered and the use of other characters throws up an error. For example, contact number) and email address (here one can insert their email address for further correspondence).
This question type is an open-ended question that has multiple rows of text that is indicated with a title and the textual characters are regulated. This type of question can collect basic respondent information like full name, address, email address, phone number, age and sex.
The demographic question captures the demographic data from a population set. They are used to identify characteristics such as age, gender, income, race, geographic place of residence, number of children, and so forth. Demographic data helps you paint a more accurate picture of the group of persons you are trying to understand. For example:
Matrix table questions are arranged in tabular format with questions listed on the left of the table while the answer options are at the top of the table. There are multiple variants of the matrix table question type. Multipoint matrix table questions use radio buttons to select answers for multiple aspects in a question. Multi-select matrix table questions use check-box buttons to select answers. The spreadsheet matrix table question are used to insert text while answering questions. An example of this is if an organization would like to collect feedback on certain attributes, the question that can be asked is:
In case you have to organize a survey where you want to know about multiple aspects like importance and satisfaction level of the various services offered to users, you can use side-by-side matrix question. It gives you the option to define multiple rating options simultaneously due to which it gets easy for you to make changes in whatever needs improvement and also to maintain what’s good in your services.
The star rating question is a type of rating questionthat uses odd number of stars to rank attributes or display feelings and emotions. An odd number matrix type question is used, to account for a middle or neutral point in a rating survey. Higher the number of stars, higher is the agreement with a statement. This question type allows for rating on multiple rows to be collected for one single topic. For example, if a retail brand would like to collect feedback about their brand, they can use a star rating question in the following format:
Maximum Differential Scaling or Max-Diff is a question type where respondents are given a set of attributes and asked to indicate the best and the worst attributes. There could only be one of each option in the final response. For example, if a bank would like to understand the preference of payment merchant, the question can be asked in the following format:
Push to social question type allows to share positive reviews or feedback to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google +. This question is used to create a positive vibe about your brand on social media. Alternatively, this can be effectively used to collect and address negative feedback before it goes out on social media. This question is effectively used in customer satisfaction.
The visual analog question is a close-ended question can be administered in two ways - a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down question type and odd-point smiley question.
The Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down question is a two-point question where a respondent has to indicate the their feeling or opinion with either a positive or negative. An example of this question type is a respondent’s emotion towards their experience at Starbucks.
The smiley rating question type generally consists of a 5 point rating scale indicated with the presence of a neutral point. Due to the visual representative nature of the question, the response rate for this question type is always higher. An example of this question is a retail brand looking to collect feedback with the purchase experience at a store.
The image question is used to increase the response rate amongst respondents as it allows respondents to click on images as their answer option to a question. For example, to understand from a respondent the favorite ice cream flavor, the question can be administered as:
A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a question type that is sent to customers to get a concise understanding of their satisfaction level with your brand or organization. This question is imperative towards understanding the level of customer satisfaction. Response to this question is measured on a scale of 0-10 and provides a simplified, yet highly effective vision of an organization's brand popularity and identifying potential brand promoters or detractors among existing customers. Respondents to this question are categorized as:
The Van Westendorp-Price Sensitivity question is a technique for market researchers to gauge consumer perceptions of the value of products or services. This helps in understanding the scope to tweak the price and offering. For example, if a software product manufacturer would like to know how to price a product, the following question could be asked:
Date/Time question type allows to collect date/time information filled in by a respondent in a consistent manner. For example, questions related to date of birth can be answered with the use of this question.
This question type is used to limit the number of phony responses in a survey or data collection by automated computer programs.
The calendar question allows the respondent to input a date and time in the calendar format. For example, to input date of birth.
An interactive map questions allows a respondent to click on a location by hovering over or clicking on an interactive map. When the respondent scrolls over the map, a selection can be made on the basis of the pop-up at the point of hover. For example, if a respondent is asked for the birth state or city, he/she can hover over the map to select the correct location.
This question can be used to validated zip codes against those of database for a given country. For example, if a respondent fills in his/her zip code and one needs to check if its correct as per standard US postal zip code then they can use this question type.
Look up table question type provides autocomplete in a systematic way. This is a mix of drop-down and single line editable textbox. This question type is used when there are a lot of options and the correct option is displayed when the respondent starts typing.
This question type helps to locate a nearby store in a region for business purpose, within proximity of an address or region.
This question type allows the respondent to provide feedback or indulge in a discussion about a certain topic. The stimulating subject is a depicted with a video. For example, if an organization wants to collect feedback on a shopping experience, feedback can be collected by: