So you've decided that you need a better understanding of
the characteristics of people who visit your website, or of some other
business-related question. Developing a focused and effective
questionnaire will help you to efficiently and accurately pinpoint the
information that will help you make more informed decisions.
Developing a questionnaire is as much an art as it is a science. And
just as an artist has a variety of different colors to choose from in the palette, you have a variety of different question formats with which to
question an accurate picture of your customers, clients and issues that
are important to them.
The Dichotomous Question
The dichotomous question is
generally a "yes/no" question. An example of the dichotomous question
Have you ever purchased a
product or service from our website?
If you want information only about product users, you may want to ask this type of question to "screen out" those who haven't purchased your
products or services. Researchers use "screening" questions to make
sure that only those people they are interested in participate in the
You may also want to use yes/no questions to separate people or branch
into groups of those who "have purchased" and those who "have not yet
purchased" your products or services. Once separated, different questions
can be asked of each of these groups.
You may want to ask the "have purchased" group how satisfied they are
with your products and services, and you may want to ask the "have not
purchased" group what the primary reasons are for not purchasing. In
essence, your questionnaire branches to become two different sets of
The Multiple Choice Questions
The multiple-choice question
consists of three or more exhaustive, mutually exclusive categories.
Multiple choice questions can ask for single or multiple answers.
In the following example, we could ask the respondent to select exactly
one answer from the 7 possible, exactly 3 of the 7, or as many
as 3 of the 7 (1,2,or 3 answers can be selected).
Example: A multiple-choice question to find out how
a person first heard about your website is:
How did you first hear about our web site?
- Other: Please Specify _______________
For this type of question it is important to consider
including an "other" category because there may be other avenues by
which the person first heard about your site that you might have
Rank Order Scaling
Rank order scaling questions allow a
certain set of brands or products to be ranked based upon a specific
attribute or characteristic. Perhaps we know that Toyota, Honda,
Mazda, and Ford are most likely to be purchased. You may request that
the options be ranked based upon a particular attribute. Ties may
or may not be allowed. If you allow ties, several options will have the
what you have seen, heard, and experienced, please rank the following
brands according to their reliability. Place a "1" next to the brand
that is most reliable, a "2" next to the brand that is next most reliable,
and so on. Remember, no two cars can have the same ranking .
The Rating Scale
A rating scale question requires a
person to rate a product or brand along a well-defined, evenly spaced
continuum. Rating scales are often used to measure the direction and
intensity of attitudes. The following is an example of a comparative
rating scale question:
Which of the following categories best describes
your last experience purchasing a product or service on our website? Would
you say that your experience was:
- Very pleasant
- Somewhat pleasant
- Neither pleasant nor unpleasant
- Somewhat unpleasant
- Very unpleasant
The Semantic Differential Scale
The semantic differential
scale asks a person to rate a product, brand, or company based upon a
seven-point rating scale that has two bi-polar adjectives at each end. The
following is an example of a semantic differential scale
Would you say our web
- (7) Very Attractive
- (1) Very Unattractive
Notice that unlike the rating scale, the semantic differential
scale does not have a neutral or middle selection. A person must choose,
to a certain extent, one or the other adjective.
The Stapel Scale
The staple scale asks a person to rate a
brand, product, or service according to a certain characteristic on a
scale from +5 to -5, indicating how well the characteristic describes the
product or service. The following is an example of a staple scale
When thinking about Data Mining Technologies, Inc.
(DMT), do you believe that the word "innovative" aptly describes or poorly
describes the company? On a scale of +5 to -5 with +5 being "very good
description of DMT" and -5 being "poor description of DMT," how do you
rank DMT according to the word "innovative"?
- (+5) Describes very well
- (-5) Poorly Describes
The Constant Sum Question
A constant sum question permits
collection of "ratio" data, meaning that the data is able to express the
relative value or importance of the options (option A is twice as
important as option B).
The following question asks you to divide 100 points
between a set of options to show the value or importance you place
on each option. Distribute the 100 points giving the more
important reasons a greater number of points. The computer will
prompt you if your total does not equal exactly 100 points.
When thinking about the reasons you
purchased our TargetFind data mining software, please rate the following
reasons according to their relative importance.
Seamless integration with other software
User friendliness of
Ability to manipulate
Level of pre- and post-purchase service
Level of value for the
Convenience of purchase/quick delivery
This type of question is used when you are relatively sure of the
reasons for purchase, or you want input on a limited number of reasons you
feel are important. Questions must sum to 100 points and point totals are
The Open-Ended Question
The open-ended question seeks to
explore the qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic or issue.
It gives a person the chance to respond in detail. Although open-ended
questions are important, they are time-consuming and should not be
over-used. An example of an open-ended question might be:
respondent indicates they did not find what they were looking for...)
What products of services were you looking for
that were not found on our website?
If you want to add
an "Other" answer to a multiple choice question, you would use branching
instructions to come to an open ended question to find out What Other....
The Demographic Question
Demographic questions are an
integral part of any questionnaire. They are used to identify
characteristics such as age, gender, income, race, geographic place of
residence, number of children, and so forth. For example demographic
questions will help you to classify the difference between product users
and non-users. Perhaps most of your customers come from the Northeast, are
between the ages of 50 and 65, and have incomes between $50,000 and
Demographic data helps you paint a more accurate picture of the group
of persons you are trying to understand. And by better understanding the
type of people who use or are likely to use your product, you can
allocate promotional resources to reach these people, in a more cost
Psycho-graphic or life style questions are also
included in the template files. These questions provide an in-depth
psychological profile and look at activities, interests and opinions of