Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Surveys That Work

As a UX Researcher I know that it is hard to create a good survey. It is hard to ask the right questions in a way your respondent will understand, and it is hard to make sure it is not biased. But I do get quite a few requests for surveys. “We just want to ask a few quick questions to find out ….” they say.

Photo of book on table
Surveys That Work by Caroline Jarrett

So when I saw Surveys That Work by Caroline Jarrett, I thought it might be sensible to have a read.

I thought it would just look at the sort of questions to ask and how to write better questions, but it was so much more than that.

Caroline introduces us to the Survey Octopus whose eight tentacles represent all the different things that need to be considered when deciding to do and create a survey. Everything from what are we trying to find out, to the questions we should use, through to who we should be asking and finishing with the final numbers.

To do a good survey takes time and effort, but if you follow Caroline’s advice you should end up with a survey which gives you useful answers and might actually answer your Most Critical Question.

There is some great advice about engaging with Stakeholders and the sort of things that need to be decided before starting, like how many responses do we need.

It has really opened my eyes to the fact that a good survey is really hard to do well. I think I would rather do in person interviews, at least that allows me to ask follow up questions.

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