Introduction to online questionnaires

Online engagement lends itself very well to use of questionnaires – they can be a straightforward tool for the participant to respond to your engagement and most participants how to respond to a questionnaire. More good news is that online capture of participants' feedback can be more cost effective in the reporting stage.

Before exploring questionnaires however we might consider why. A reasonable question for you to ask: Is a questionnaire really going to engage our stakeholders?

If the answer is maybe then going back to the engagement methods section of this guidance and looking at the appropriate level of engagement and matching tools might be useful before going any further. But if a questionnaire is the way to go– then let's get started.

It's vital to design for online use – just transferring your paper-based questionnaire to a PDF or an online form doesn't always work because people interact differently with a screen than with paper.

And it's important to consider are we asking the right questions. For example, those that:

  • enable people to express their opinions, concerns and expectations
  • capture information to help decision makers make informed decisions.

Be wary of leading questions. People may not want to respond to a questionnaire that seems to force them down a path they don't want to follow.

Something that's worth remembering: there are differences in questionnaires developed for research purposes and those developed for consultation purposes. One basic difference is that people who are affected by a proposal or a project will want room to provide their opinion and may not wish to answer all your questions.

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