Is There a Difference Between Questionnaires and Surveys?

If you thought the answer was that they are both the same you couldn’t further from the truth. Though the two are different, they are often used interchangeably. It may sound like a semantic dispute, but hopefully the difference will be clearer by the end of this blog post. Remember in grade school math learning that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square? Sort of the same deal here, surveys can be done using questionnaires but not the other way around. Still confused?

A questionnaire is a set of written questions used to obtain information indistinctly to evaluate a single person. Think about those Myers-Briggs tests that are the latest rage. They are relatively deep dives into a single person and the results affect a single person. Even though the questionnaire can be answered by more than one person, the answers are not part of a statistical analysis.

A survey, on the other hand, gathers the results on multiple questionnaires from a set population so that in the end statistical analysis and trends can be derived from the aggregated data. Think of polling for elections or Nielsen families, in order to get a correct read on what people want representative samples of specific types of respondents are analyzed.

Why the Confusion Between Questionnaire and Survey?

The short answer is—THE INTERNET. Before the internet questionnaires and surveys were done on paper and analysis was a separate arduous experience. Once a questionnaire was completed by a respondent there was nothing left to consider you’d been: psychologically classified, favorite black and white tv shows know, etc.

On the other hand when surveys were completed and collected, one had to manually count the result and plot them on graphs or use a room sized computers that took hours to compute. So, if you were doing a survey you knew you were in for a lot of work. Nowadays, that distinction is harder to see since data is often times immediately aggregated and shared on social media for the world to see. We are in many way taking for granted the work that is going on in the background between the click to complete survey button and the results tally page that generally comes next.

Benefits of Online Questionnaires and Surveys

Though the internet caused this grammatical confusion, it has made using and distributing them much easier. Whether it be a questionnaire or a survey—reaching the right audience and having the right sample size is a breeze. No matter where your customers are, online or offline, mobile, desktop, or on social media.

Using QuestionPro you can create professional surveys or choose from our massive library of customizable templates in minutes. After sending the surveys through our email system, real-time results are posted to our then analyze through our real-time summaries or export the data directly to Excel, SPSS, or CSV.

Learn more about the different question types QuestionPro offers click here. Or if you want to try making a questionnaire/survey of your own, sign up for a free account and you can get started today!