Re: Just do it (Long & Occasionally Sarcastic)

Subject: Re: Just do it (Long & Occasionally Sarcastic)
From: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- iss-dsp -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2000 08:35:46 +0100

> As part of my MA coursework I've looked at surveys in some detail and it is a
> very complicated subject. From what I can remember off the top of my head a
> good (ie useful!) survey takes a lot of planning before it becomes anywhere
> near useful. Most of what I've read on the topic recommend a combined
> approach to information gathering. General gist goes as follows:

1 know your audience and decide what it is you're trying to find out - too
many surveys are too general and tend to waffle on and on.

2 tell them up front what the survey is for and how they'd benefit from
answering honestly, provide anonymity to encourage this (e.g don;t ask names

3 provide an incentive - perhaps a regional draw with prize, dinner for two,
theatre tickets etc

4 know what it is you want to find out. Ideally this should measurable or
have a measurable output so you can see how well it's gone

5 design your questions well. You can have open/closed/mixed questions.
Closed are things like select a, b, c or d whereas open questions are 'tell me
how...' etc. If your asking rating question ( rate these on a scale of ...)
always use an even number of options to make people think, if the number is odd
the chances are you'll get a lot in the middle.

6 good layout - make it easy to read, understand, ensure all Q are
unambiguous etc

7 not too long or they're likely to lose interest and the latter part may
produce spurious results


That's the basics as I remember them but the aim is that the survey should
rarely be used on it's own (for one thing there is a very low response rate,
generally less than 10%). In conjunction with the survey you should carry out:

1 telephone survey - talk to the customers. Essentially ask the same
questions but you get feedback from the voice (tone used etc) and have the
option of expanding on open questions etc.

2 face to face interviews and customer observations - see how they use the
software/hardware etc.

3 play with the kit yourself

4 everything else others have mentioned!

At the end of this you should have a fair idea of what's required and the survey
is put in perspective by the other research you've done.


Damien Braniff

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50 4001
Belfast BT9 5BS Web:

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