Surveys are easy to do but difficult to do right. Having a university degree does not make you competent to design and execute surveys. A survey should be designed by professionals and tested before execution. To become a pro, you need to
- study theory more than just an introductory course
- gain experience
A bad survey will give you unreliable and worthless results and is a waste of time and resources.
If you still must do a survey, here is a method which might help you to do it right. 3 Questions Survey Method can help you make a better survey. It quarantees that you make a short survey and that’s a start.
Why just three questions. It is all related to how many ways we can measure things. Different measurements are the dimensions of things. Three dimensions are what we can handle easily. Some things have more dimensions but it is hard to grasp it. Now what that got to do with surveys. Each survey question creates new measurement, a new dimension. Of course we can ignore the dimension and try to look each measurement separately but that gives us a very narrow view of the subject. Think your results as a box of three dimensions.
The better we know and understand a subject, the more variables we can handle. For some people there are two types of wine, red and white. Wine enthusiastic can recognize a lot more variables, like dryness and body. Wine expert will recognize a lot more.
A typical survey has many questions concerning one thing but only an expert can differentiate things with more than a few variables. Usually the person creating the questions is a pro in the subject and the person answering is just Joe Average who cannot handle all the dimensions.
Trying to work with just three questions requires discipline; you need to concentrate on the most important matter. Another point is analysis. Working with three questions, it is possible to do three different cross tabulations. Working with 30 variables it is possible to do 435 different cross tabulations. Usually they are not done.
Answering a lot of repetitive questions leads to fatigue and boredom. After 20 questions you do not spend so much time on your answers. With three questions you can expect that the respondents spend a little time considering their answers.