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Open Ended Questions

Discover the pottentials of Open Ended Questions and how they can help increase responses and insights!

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What are Open Ended Questions?

Unlike a closed ended question that leaves your responses narrow and limited, a free-form question allows you to probe deep into the respondent's answers, gaining valuable information about the subject at hand. The responses to these questions can be used to attain detailed, descriptive information, otherwise unattainable.

When designing surveys, we often need to decide whether to use an open ended question versus close ended questions to get specific information. Yet we need to be aware of the fact that open ended question and close ended questions each have their own strengths and weaknesses and perform in different ways.

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In a study conducted by the Pew Research in their November 2008 post-election survey, respondents were asked, “What one issue mattered most to you in deciding how you voted for president?” One group was asked this question in a close ended questions format while the other group was asked this question in an open ended question format. The results are displayed below:

Open Ended Question

In the close ended questions format, 58% of respondents chose “The economy,” while in the open-ended format only 35% wrote in a response that indicated “The economy.” Note also that in the close ended questions format, only 8% of respondents selected “Other,” while in the open-ended format 43% of respondents wrote in a response that would have been categorized as “Other.”

Open Ended Question and Close Ended Questions

  1. The open ended question and close ended questions are different tasks for respondents. In the open-ended task, respondents write down what is readily available in their minds, whereas in the close ended questions task we have respondents focus their “attention on specific responses chosen by the investigator,” (Converse and Presser, 1986).
  2. Asking the same question in these two different formats will almost always produce different results. Many investigators have demonstrated this over several decades.
  3. Few respondents are going to select the “Other” category and write in responses that are different than the answer choices that are listed.

Open and Close Ended Questions

So what does this mean for us? If you can, do qualitative research first and make sure your close ended questions represent the items that are in people’s heads. We need the list of items to be complete since few respondents will select the “Other” category. It may also be necessary to list items that are not readily available to respondents if those items are important to you.

Consider doing split sample studies where half of the respondents see the question in the open-ended format while the other half sees the question in the close ended questions format.

When presenting results, I have found it helpful to explain to the audience, in a sentence or two, the fundamental differences between open ended question and close ended questions. This helps them understand that these are not necessarily precise measurements, but measurements that require some interpretation relative to other questions in the survey and other information from qualitative research. Hence, that is why they need an analyst like you or me!

The QuestionPro Survey Creation Process

Creation

Create. With QuestionPro, you can sign up for a free account and begin creating your own customized surveys within minutes, or choose from one of our 50 premade survey templates.

Distribute

Distribute. Once you've finished creating your survey, you're given a wide variety of options for distribution. Choose from social media, email, embedding or printing signs and flyers.

Analyze

Analyze. With the real-time summary, you can see your results coming and perform immediate analysis. Use the built-in reporting tools to create infographics and word clouds.

Click here to browse our free survey templates

How can I add open ended questions?

  • Goto: Login » Surveys » Edit » Workspace
  • Click on Add Question button to add a question.
  • Select Basic, then go to the Text section and select Comment Box.
  • Enter in the question text. Open Ended Questions
  • Select the data type: Single Row Text, Multiple Rows Text, Email address, or Numeric Data. Open Ended Questions
  • Select the Text Box Location (below or next to question text). Enabling “next to question text” will put the text box to the right of the question text. Open Ended Questions

Where can I see reports/collected data?

  • Click on Login » Surveys » Reports » Text / Media » Open-Ended Text
Open Ended Questions
Open Ended Questions

Please note that analysis for open ended text questions is not included in the Real-Time Summary Report. To view analysis on open-ended questions, you can view the Word Cloud report.

Can I limit the number of characters in a text question?

To make the question mandatory you can click on Settings and you will find a toggle button to turn ON the validation. WHY? When you add questions to a survey, by default, required option is turned off. When required option is not enabled, respondents can continue with the survey without selecting answers. If respondents go through all the pages in the survey without selecting answers, the response is still considered as complete. You can enable required option to make a question required so that respondents can continue with the survey only after responding to the questions.

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Some of our Popular Open Ended Question Surveys

Customer and client satisfaction
Customer/Client Satisfaction Questionnaire

This survey is for customers or clients to respond to and provide feedback on their experience purchasing your product or utilizing your service.

New product and services
Feedback Collection on New Products & Services

When you are preparing to launch a new product or introduce a new service into the market, customer feedback helps you enhance the quality of the offering as you prepare for its launch.

Event planning
Event Planning Questionnaire

Planning events can be exhausting - with the help of one of QuestionPro's surveys, gathering information, scheduling and organizing various events can be managed much more efficiently.

Website feedback
Gathering Website Feedback

Feedback from your website, specifically from open ended questions, is one of the best ways to generate free, instant evaluation from one of your most powerful marketing tools in real-time.

Using Open Ended Questions for Feedback - Things to Remember

While QuestionPro makes it easy to jump in and create, distribute, and analyze free, online open ended question surveys in mere minutes, there are a few additional considerations that make our solution stand out. As you are evaluating and creating your open ended questions, consider the following:

Creation

How extensive is their open ended question survey library? There shouln't be any reason to completely 're-create the wheel' if it isn't absolutely necessary. Can an existing open ended question survey template be used as a baseline and then personalized to fit the specific needs of your survey with open ended questions?
QuestionPro's answer to these questions and more, is YES!

Distribution

Once your open ended question survey is ready for feedback, can the solution provider help you distribute the you open ended questions, such as email invitations, managing email lists, embedding into a webpage, posting to various social media networks and through generating and posting QR codes?
QuestionPro offers all of the above and more!

Analysis

Once your responses have been collected, where do you go from there? Is there a summary report of some kind that gives you a snap-shot of responses with visual tools like graphs and charts? Can you drill-down into the responses, filter responses based on criteria you establish, and share the results externally or selectively publish some results online to share with others?
A huge YES! from QuestionPro to all of these solutions and much more!

Creation

How extensive is their open ended question survey library? There shouln't be any reason to completely 're-create the wheel' if it isn't absolutely necessary. Can an existing open ended question survey template be used as a baseline and then personalized to fit the specific needs of your survey with open ended questions?
QuestionPro's answer to these questions and more, is YES!

Distribution

Once your open ended question survey is ready for feedback, can the solution provider help you distribute the you open ended questions, such as email invitations, managing email lists, embedding into a webpage, posting to various social media networks and through generating and posting QR codes?
QuestionPro offers all of the above and more!

Analysis

Once your responses have been collected, where do you go from there? Is there a summary report of some kind that gives you a snap-shot of responses with visual tools like graphs and charts? Can you drill-down into the responses, filter responses based on criteria you establish, and share the results externally or selectively publish some results online to share with others?
A huge YES! from QuestionPro to all of these solutions and much more!

Creating, Distributing and Analyzing your Open Ended Question Surveys: How it Works

Create Surveys
Create Open Ended Question Surveys

Quickly create open ended question surveys using our powerful web-based platform. You can make a survey with your own open ended questions, copy a professionally written open ended survey template, or upload your survey with open ended questions directly from a Microsoft™ Word™ file. QuestionPro has over 30 question types, advanced logic, dozens of color themes and other customization options

Collect Responses
Collect Responses

Reach respondents wherever they are using our email distribution system, embedding in your website or blog, with pop-up and exit questionnaires, promoting using our built-in QR Code generator or posting to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. QuestionPro Questionnaires look great on mobile devices or tablets, and you can even collect responses offline using our SurveyPocket iPad & Android tablet or Smartphone app.

Analyze Results
Analyze Results

With our full suite of reporting features such as real-time summary, pivot tables, segmentation tools, trend analysis, and text analytics, analysis is efficient and effective. Need more in-depth options to comb through the data? Export your survey data directly to Excel, SPSS, or CSV. And it's easy to share results with formatted Word™ and PowerPoint™ reports or by generating great looking infographics and word clouds.

QuestionPro is the leader in open ended question survey creation, distribution and analysis

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