Survey questions 101: Examples and tips

Whether you’re managing a business, conducting a study, or running for elected office, surveys are a great way to collect information and glean valuable insights that drive data-driven decisions.

By gathering up-to-date information from research subjects, expectations from your target audience, and feedback from customers or patients, you can analyze their behaviors, identify issues, address pain points, and develop solutions.

With online surveys, you can reach people in just a few clicks and easily collect information without the hassle of trying to get paper forms into the right hands. An online form builder with team collaboration and report generation capabilities, Jotform offers an all-in-one solution that enables you to

  • Craft a variety of survey questions with no coding required
  • Share the survey with your audience in a single click or embed it into your website
  • Automatically collect responses in Jotform Tables, a spreadsheet-database hybrid tool
  • Auto-generate reports based on the cumulative data you collect

If you’re not quite sure where to start or you’re trying to save some time, Jotform offers more than 400 different premade survey templates that enable you to fully customize the content and design to better match your needs and start collecting data immediately.

Check out this sample survey, which highlights the different types of survey questions you can ask, to guide you in preparing your own survey.

Pro Tip

Not sure what questions to ask? Choose a ready-made online survey template for free.

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions come in handy when you’re collecting qualitative data, gathering detailed customer feedback, or trying to understand the thought processes of respondents. Unlike questions that let people select only a predefined response from a list of choices, open-ended questions enable survey respondents to share their knowledge, feelings, and feedback in their own words.

Jotform’s Short Text and Long Text form fields are the best ways to collect open-ended responses. Simply add one of these form elements — based on how long you’d like the answer to be — and type your question.

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If you want to let survey takers break down their responses point by point, the Field Multiplier widget enables them to list as many answers as they like in an itemized format.

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Open-ended question types in the sample survey

Closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions are useful if you want survey takers to provide a definitive answer or if you need an easy way to analyze their responses.

By definition, closed-ended questions provide a list of preselected choices and enable survey respondents to select the options that best match their beliefs, opinions, or knowledge.

Since Jotform can create closed-ended questions in a number of different formats, you can ask for vital feedback in many ways. For instance, single choice and dichotomous questions ask respondents to either select an option that best applies to them or provide a clear answer by choosing one of two answers. Yes-or-no and true-or-false questions are examples of dichotomous questions.

On the other hand, you can create multiple-choice questions, which allow survey respondents to select more than one answer.

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To get started, select your form field of choice, such as the Dropdown, Single Choice, and Multiple Choice fields, from the Form Elements menu, and drag it onto the online survey you’re creating. Once the form field is part of your online survey, type the question you want to ask and enter the specific answers that respondents can consider.

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    Closed-ended question types in the sample survey

If you want to get creative or provide visual aids for the people who take your online survey, the Image Picker widget may just do the trick. This widget, located under the Widgets tab in the Form Elements menu, allows you to add images that survey respondents can select. After you’ve placed the widget on your form, type your question, click on the Widget Settings wizard, add the image URLs, and separate each one by adding a new line.

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Rating scales

Rating scale questions can be helpful when you need to determine how well a certain idea will be received or evaluate the performance of a product or service. These types of questions, displayed in a scale format, gauge overall satisfaction by enabling survey respondents to select a rating value that most accurately represents their thoughts, feelings, or opinions.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) surveys offer a great example of how rating scale questions can be used. Companies often conduct these surveys to determine how likely respondents are to recommend a product or service to their colleagues or friends. An NPS survey is composed of one rating scale question that asks customers to rate from 1 to 10 the likelihood that they will recommend a product or service.

Jotform enables you to craft user-friendly rating scale questions by using the Star Rating or Scale Rating form fields, which gauge satisfaction levels through visual elements or numbers, respectively.

Star and Scale Rating questions in the sample survey

If you want to use the Star Rating form field but don’t like stars, Jotform offers a variety of alternative options you can use instead, such as light bulbs, flags, and hearts. You can add these by opening the Properties wizard within the Star Rating form field, clicking on the Options tab, and selecting the rating style and amount you want.

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If you’re looking for a simpler solution, the Sliders with Calculated Result widget may work. With this particular rating scale, you can specify the value for each slider, as well as set up the widget to automatically tally all the ratings and calculate the average value.

Slider widget in the sample survey

Likert scales

Likert scale questions provide a simple yet effective way to gauge how people feel about an idea, service, or product.

In fact, responses to these questions can help your team identify gaps in services and specific areas within your workflow that need improvement. Likert scale survey questions can even help you determine whether ongoing initiatives are performing well or if some tweaks are necessary.

You can use any of the aforementioned closed-ended question types — the Image Picker widget or Single Choice, Dropdown, Scale Rating, and Star Rating form fields — to allow survey respondents to select the response that best matches their opinion about a certain subject.

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    Likert scale question types in the sample survey

If you want to use the Image Picker widget, you should limit the number of images that can be selected by using the Max Selection option within the Widget Settings wizard.

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Ranking questions

Ranking questions can come in handy if you want to understand the priorities of survey respondents and determine how important certain matters or items are to them.

These questions are a great way to measure your success, see what’s performing well, and figure out what needs to be improved. You can also use ranking metrics to make business decisions, such as which features to highlight or what problems to address.

With Jotform, it’s quick and easy to create a question that offers a list of individual responses for survey respondents to prioritize, based on their preferences.

The Orderable List widget can help you create ranking questions that allow survey respondents to rearrange items in a list using Jotform’s drag-and-drop functionality.

As an alternative, you can use the Visual Multi Select widget, which gives a number of options in the left panel and asks survey respondents to drag individual options into the right panel.

Regardless of which widget you choose, simply type the survey question at the top of each widget and add the individual options for survey respondents to consider.

Ranking question types in the sample survey

Matrix questions

If you need a structured way to ask a number of closed-ended questions that have several possible answers, matrix questions may be the way to go.

Matrix questions are often displayed in tables, with individual questions in rows and a set of predefined answers shown in corresponding columns. For each question in a row, survey respondents are typically asked to select an answer from any one of the columns.

Matrix question types in the sample survey

As an example, matrix questions are common in satisfaction surveys, which ask customers or event participants to indicate their level of satisfaction with an organization’s services.

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A matrix question in a customer satisfaction survey

Matrix questions are also commonplace in patient registration forms that ask people to disclose habits and activities that may impact their overall health or well-being.

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A matrix question in an extensive patient intake form

Jotform’s Input Table form field allows you to create a table for matrix questions and enables survey respondents to provide responses in a variety of different formats, including radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdowns, text boxes, numeric text boxes, and currency text boxes.

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File upload questions

Connecting with your target audience allows you to create trust and build a stronger relationship with them.

File upload questions can facilitate this connection by enabling survey takers to share before-and-after pictures of themselves, supporting documents to explain a problem in more detail, or attachments that back up any claims they want to make.

The File Upload field — in the Basic Elements menu of the Form Builder — allows survey respondents to easily share a wide variety of documents or images when they submit your form.

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A file upload question in the sample survey

      You can also adjust the settings of the File Upload field to accept a wide variety of file types and let people upload multiple files.

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Demographic questions

Surveys can reveal a lot about your organization. They can also help you understand the people who are filling them out. You can analyze the valuable insights collected through your form in detailed reports and use the information to develop laser-focused action plans tailored for specific groups of people.

More specifically, demographic questions can help you glean valuable data, such as age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, household income, location, or marital status.

By capturing this information, you can figure out what may influence the behaviors or decisions of people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Demographic data can also help you segment customers into targeted audiences or learn more about a group of people.

You can use any of the predefined question types that Jotform offers to understand the influence of demographics on your respondents. While crafting the survey, it may be a good idea to state that participation is voluntary and responses are anonymous. These disclosures can help people feel more comfortable providing honest responses or filling out your survey in general.

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Demographic question types in the sample survey

The best way to interpret demographic data is by generating reports that are detailed yet easy to follow. These reports can compare the socioeconomic data gathered from the surveys and visualize it in graphs and charts.

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View responses and report survey results

Apart from making it easy for you to view, organize, and track submitted form responses, Jotform Tables can use this data to create detailed reports. As people fill out your survey, their responses will automatically populate the Jotform Tables workspace that’s tied to the form.

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With Jotform Tables, you can easily access, organize, and share survey responses, as well as manage the surveying process with the help of advanced filtering and grouping options in a dynamic format.

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Jotform Tables enables you to view submitted form responses in several formats. Add a new tab in Report View to automatically generate dynamic reports based on responses to your online survey. Jotform Report Builder will convert survey results into presentable and shareable reports that are automatically updated anytime someone fills out your online survey.

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As a full-featured data collection and team collaboration tool, Jotform can help you craft almost any kind of survey, collect valuable information to guide informed decisions, and quickly turn that data into attractive, insightful reports.

Jotform allows you to control how questions are displayed in a wide range of form fields. Our form widgets can help your survey stand out and give your users the options they need to provide meaningful feedback.

Jotform Tables enables you to view, organize, and share submitted responses with colleagues, as well as visualize the data by automatically turning it into vibrant, customizable reports.

If you haven’t done so by now, why not create a survey with Jotform today? See how our online forms can help you gather meaningful feedback and develop data-driven insights without wasting any time or breaking a sweat.

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter ScoreSM and Net Promoter SystemSM are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Darin is a content marketer who's passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler.

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