step by step guide on how to quickly and cheaply create online surveys

Go on admit it, we’ve all been there... you had a great idea for your business but when you put it into action it was a bit of a damp squib (not to be confused with a squid). Next time you’re thinking of doing something new, why not canvas some targeted opinions. I’m afraid Aunt Edith or even, your colleagues aren’t going to cut it, well not past the initial brainstorm anyway - sorry Edith! You need to ask the people that use your business - your target audience - get their thoughts and you’ll know, if and / or how to proceed and it may just give you the edge... and we all want that. We’ve done our research, we always do, and compiled a step by step guide on how to quickly and cheaply create online surveys.

Online surveys could be your saving grace, all they require is a little up front thinking (soz, you are going to have to engage some brain power, no getting out of that one) on how to frame your questions, so you are getting the responses that would be most helpful (tips on that later). Then you’re just a few clicks away from knocking up your online survey. Basic survey providers are free, but for a little bit of dosh you can up your survey game with your branding, clever survey logic, enhanced analysis and a host of other shenanigans. Follow our steps to creating your survey and you can’t go wrong...

Our step by step guide on how to quickly and cheaply create online surveys:


Step 1: What do you want to know?

Obvious stuff, but be really clear on what you want to know from your audience. Don’t be tempted to ask them a few other things whilst you have their attention. It will dilute your efforts. If you feel that your subject area is a bit meaty then perhaps you should look to conducting interviews - then you can dig a bit deeper, but that’s another ball game (one that we’re not playing today, maybe tomorrow?!).


Step 2: Understand question types.

If you’re not already clued up, spend some time thinking about the structure of your questions - it really can make all the difference to the answers you get... we’ve outlined some of the basics below. For further reading check out QuestionPro.

Close-ended: Questions where you don’t want any funny business, just a single answer. These questions are great for data that is easily analysed, but it doesn’t give you any of the why, which can be just if not more important or insightful than the actual answer. Examples of these are...

Multiple choice: Great for a quick answer but you may force your audience into a box they don’t really belong to. It’s not always as simple as a yes or no.

Scale ratings: You know the ones, how strongly do you agree or disagree. Again speedy responses, but subject to widely different views on what strongly is... a quick ‘unscientific’ pole in fivesquid HQ saw most of us plonking our answers in the middle regardless.

Rank orders: These are good if you want to see what is most important to people. Is it price, customer service etc?

Open-ended: Now you’re lifting the lid, can of worms, everything goes, give it to us, kind of questions. Great for getting to the Why. Not so great for analysis, and open-ended questions have a tendency to lead the witness - sorry your honour.


Step 3: What should I ask?

You know what you want to find out and the types of questions available to you. Now spend some time sketching out the questions. Think about how you would answer them. Keep the questions simple, free from jargon (unless relevant), to the point and clear. Any ambiguity will mean incomplete surveys or ambitious answers. If your questions are open ended make sure you phrase the question to get a detailed response, starting with ‘How’ rather than ‘Do’. If you need a hand with forming the right questions a freelance writer maybe just the person you’re after ... now where can you find one of those?...


Step 4: Creating the survey

The fun bit, you’ve got your questions you just need to decide on the best online survey tool. Or you could go old school and print... we like online and have pulled together our 2 favs:

Survey Monkey: The King (Kong) of online surveys and Survey Monkey is free ... up to a point. Simple surveys of 10 questions, 100 responses and a limited amount of customisation. Our biggest gripe is that you cannot download your data in the free package. But the paid packages are reasonable and open up a host of options, including data export and branding.

Google Forms: Hold on there King Kong, Google has well and truly stamped on your parade, with their completely free Google Forms. We’re afraid to say Survey Monkey there’s a new King in town - it’s all free and the data analysis is a dream, you can also include loads of add-ons if you really want to up your game, some of these are paid for, but lots aren’t!

Any freelance graphic designer worth their salt will be able to pull together a professional looking survey for you - why not post a request on the fivesquid job board to get a hand.


Step 5: Who to ask

The world is your oyster, well it could be. If you’ve got a user base, a representative sample could be useful either completely at random or you could cherry pick your top tier or perhaps those that aren’t buying into your business. Sharing a link to your survey on social media is a great way to get wide reaching results - you could always target through a sponsored post. Remember you’re asking people to give up their time, an incentive can sometimes help to get responses and also give people the option to get in touch if they have any questions... it’s only fair.


Step 6: Analysis and conclusions

This is the fun bit! You’ve got your data and you can analyse it. It will without doubt, raise more questions. Perhaps another survey or you may want to go with more qualitative interviews. Either way you’re now armed with data and ‘In Data We Trust’.

You’re now armed with the how, now go forth and ask your questions. Be prepared for answers you weren’t expecting, the good, the bad and the ugly - it could save you a lot of money by parking the idea or the option we may open up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities... and all you had to do was ask.