How to Structure a Survey

We rely on existing data when available, however sometimes we have to collect primary data using surveys. Over the years we have developed many surveys — including a bi-lingual survey to measure the employment and consumption preferences of Omaha’s first generation latino population. The following outlines the basics of our methodology for how to structure a survey:

  • Incentives: The best surveys use social incentives instead of monetary incentives. Using social incentives requires that surveys are designed to make it easy for people to feel the satisfaction of giving their opinions and helping people. This means that surveys should be short with provided answers that clearly and completely answer the survey questions.
  • Questions: Every question needs to designed to provide the most information for the least amount of effort from the participant. This requires that only essential “business questions” are researched, and that each response provides multiple dimensions of information.
  • Answers: The best surveys provide answers that are able to completely answer the survey questions, because respondents will lose motivation if they can not truly express themselves. This doesn’t mean that you create pages of possible answer, instead it should focus how the question is answered to limit the possible answers. The format of the answers should stay consistent as much as possible so respondents don’t have to re-read the questions, and instead can focus on understanding the question and answering appropriately.
  • Security: Surveys are valuable because they provide people a protected and ambiguous line of communication. When respondents feel safe they are able to provide information that they wouldn’t disclose in normal communication.

Please let us know if we can help your collect and analyze data for your organization.


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