As a manager or department head, you spend your average workday mired in industry-specific language. To the outsider, this terminology may seem confusing, but for you and your coworkers, it’s just another means of expression. Unfortunately, this way of thinking can be toxic in the online survey world, for few of the individuals responding to your questionnaire will understand the terms that, for you, have become second nature. Such a lack of understanding will ultimately lead to inaccuracies in the survey results; confused respondents may be forced to guess on certain questions, thus compromising their answers. This problem can be avoided if you stick to the following simple guidelines:
Whether it’s a stand-in for the name of an organization, a type of medical condition or some other important concept, the abbreviation is ultimately an exercise in confusion. If you absolutely insist on including an abbreviation in your survey, be sure to accompany it with the full version of the abbreviated term.
Stick With The Lowest Common Denominator
The very terms you think of as completely obvious, questionnaire respondents may find impossibly confusing. If you’re hoping that your chosen survey software will target a wide array of demographic groups, you’ll need to remember that each individual using the survey tool possesses a unique background and thus, a unique knowledge base. Aim to pose questions that anybody can understand. If there’s any chance that a word or phrase will lead to confusion, swap it out with a simpler term.
Keep Questions Concise
Now that’s you’re aware of the need to keep jargon at bay, your next challenge is to avoid the temptation to explain every single concept. An online survey is not meant for educating respondents — it’s simply a tool for gathering information. The best way to optimize survey results is to keep questions short, simple and, most importantly, free of jargon. Likewise, if you pursue a multiple choice format, the offered answers should also be concise.
The best survey tool will make it easy to gather and analyze information, but it will never make up for an inability to pose questions that respondents can actually understand. For the best results, ignore the impulse to litter your survey with industry-specific jargon and, instead, stick to simple, straightforward questions that everybody can understand.