There are many reasons for creating a survey. It might be for market research or learning more about employee preferences Building surveys is about collecting information to inform decision making. You want to collect accurate, meaningful data in order to be able to use it. These are six guidelines for creating an effective survey.

Don’t Make It Too Long

You don’t want to make your surveys excessively long. There are mixed studies when it comes to survey length versus participant completion. No matter what, there’s going to be a certain percentage of people who immediately disengage right at the beginning. Some research shows longer surveys get filled out at about the same rate as short ones. However, there are some important caveats to consider with this.

Most of these studies are done with controls that strengthen that response rate. Furthermore, you need to think of the survey on your end. While there might not be such as thing as too much data, it’s certainly possible to bite off more than you can chew. Making your survey too long will lead to a lack of focus, which can give you trouble when it comes time to synthesize results.

Make Questions Unbiased

No matter the length of your survey, it’s essential you aim to make the questions as unbiased as possible. This can be more difficult than it sounds—especially if you have a vested interest in the results. The integrity of your survey, however, depends on this idea. If your questions are too leading, you’re going to end up with answers bent towards that slant. Collecting inaccurate data will invalidate all your hard work.

Use the Right Tools for Your Needs

Every survey is slightly different. The scope and situation will both play a role in determining what tools you should use for your survey. There are lots of ways to build online surveys. But there aren’t as many quality options to make your own quiz for live surveys. Poll Everywhere allows you to create intuitive, real-time surveys that can stand on their own or be embedded into a presentation. Participants can respond through their smartphones, with or without anonymity.

Add at Least One Disqualifying Question

You can’t know how seriously people respond to your survey. Some will take the time to thoroughly consider every answer, while others will blast through it as fast as possible. It can be difficult to differentiate between valid and invalid results when you’re dealing with multiple choice. Use disqualifying questions to help solve this issue. These are questions that make it clear if a person’s responses fit within the framework of the survey. Adding one of these can preserve the integrity of your work.

Avoid Vagueness

Vagueness is almost never a good thing. This is certainly the case when it comes to building a survey. You want people to be able to easily understand each question. Otherwise, your results aren’t going to be accurate. Clarity is especially important with surveys because it’s likely you won’t be there to help people if they’re confused.

Don’t Use Many Matrix Questions

No, this has nothing to do with the movie The Matrix. Although, people might be just as confounded by your matrix questions as they were by the sequels in that series. Matrix questions use a grid format to match various queries with a scale of responses. One of the most common scales ranges from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” with three or more other options in between.

Why don’t you want to use too many matrix questions? A big part of it is that they’re sort of overwhelming. They throw a lot of information at the participant at once, which can lower response accuracy. Additionally, matrix questions don’t always format correctly on different screens. Make sure you test your survey on a variety of platforms if you’re going to incorporate matrix questions.

Surveys provide a great way to learn more about a group of people. Whether it’s for serious research, or just a fun team-building exercise, surveys wear a lot of hats. Regardless, you want to ensure you design your surveys the right way.