12.1.1 Survey questionnaires
Questionnaires are lists of questions that enable information to be gathered efficiently from a relatively large number of respondents. Most questionnaires require a fixed type of response, such as a choice between available answers, or along a scale of response. For example, a product design questionnaire might suggest, ‘I found the product easy to use’ and provide a five-point scale of response from ‘agree strongly’ to ‘disagree strongly’. Or a question might be, ‘how often do you use the product?’, with responses such as ‘every day’, ‘most days’, ‘about once a week’, ‘once every couple of weeks’, ‘once a month or less’. A realistic and comprehensive range of responses must be available to the respondents – it would be pointless to offer responses to the frequency-of-use question of just ‘often’ or ‘never’. Sometimes, bipolar scales are used; these offer opposing poles of response, with perhaps a five-point scale spanning between the poles. For example, respondents might be asked to assess a product on bipolar scales such as ‘ugly-pretty’, ‘clumsy-elegant’, ‘comfortable-uncomfortable’, ‘easy-difficult’. Advantages of fixed-response types of questionnaires are they are quick to complete, lend themselves to easy processing of the responses, and result in numerical data.
Another type of questionnaire asks for open-ended responses, with questions such as, ‘are there any features of the product that you dislike?’, or, ‘would you recommend this product to a friend – if so, why?’. Open-ended questionnaires can provide useful insights gleaned from the responses, or can provide data such as how often a product feature is mentioned in free responses. But they require more processing of the responses, and provide more qualitative feedback and less numerical data than fixed-response questionnaires.