A survey can be a fantastic tool to validate new ideas. But if you’re wondering what are the features of good research design, read on.

Before you start, check you’ve got the two most important elements to success in any research effort – clarity on what you want to understand, and a clear definition of who you want to talk to. Read my earlier blog post to get more on this here.

Now let’s design a great survey that’ll give you the insights you need to make decisions.


We’ve all done it before – you start doing a survey and before you know it, you find yourself wondering when it’ll be over.

Questions are repetitive, rambling and lengthy.

Writing great questions can be harder than it looks, and if you don’t ask the right question in the right way, you risk getting answers that are irrelevant and hard to understand.


Write down all the questions you think you want to ask.

For questions where people have to select an answer, note down all the possibilities.

Once you’ve done this, have a look at this simple infographic that outlines 8 tips to survey success – you can download it for free right here. Check each of your questions against this list, and adjust your questions accordingly.


Often I see lots of people wanting to ask questions like “how much would you be prepared to pay for a service/product like this…?” And many are dismayed to find that people have selected the lowest price point.

Honestly, it’s best not to include this question. It’s human nature to select the lowest price point offered.

And you’re asking the question without giving people a full appreciation of what value / benefit your idea brings (impossible to do through a survey).

Undertake exploration of price points through other ways – like competitor research and an agile launch.


It can be super frustrating when people start, but don’t finish your survey. You can avoid this by:

1.Getting the flow right.

Once you’ve prepared your questions, type them into a document, print them and then physically cut the page to separate each question.

Now have a play with the flow … start out asking basic questions first before going into detailed questions, then end with any demographic questions to categorise your data.

What’s a demographic question? Questions like how old are you? What’s your gender? What’s your marital status? Where do you live? What’s the highest level of education you’ve achieved.

Don’t start a survey by asking personal information– build a connection with your participants first.

Then, if you need to ask personal questions (such as demographics), provide context as to why you’re asking these questions, and reassure anonymity and confidentiality.

2. Pick the online survey tool that works for you.

It’s really important to ensure your survey is actually enjoyable for people to complete. There’s several options when it comes to programming surveys – with the main ones being Typeform ,SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics (largely designed for corporate use but there is a free account option).

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Survey Monkey and Typeform – both are super easy to use.

3. Consider ways to thank or incentivise participants.

One of the biggest challenges anyone doing research faces is low response rates. People are simply too busy to be doing surveys, so you need to come up with a way where there’s mutual benefit.

Examples could include:

Upon finishing the survey, participants are given a coupon code which can be redeemed at their next purchase (ie: 10% off)

You could offer to raise money for a charity – donating $1 for every completed survey, up to a pre-determined amount.

Offer a “test of skill’ is something like “tell us in 25 words or less how you’d feel if you were able to …” and the winner is judged based on skill or originality of their entry. Benefits of doing this are twofold – you get the opportunity to gather more insights on a specific question, and you can start to build excitement and interest in your new idea by sharing some of the great entries you’ve received.

Remember, this could be the first of many interactions with people who *might* end up buying from you. So make a good impression! Honesty and transparency are important, and acknowledging the donation of a precious resource – time – is important.


Hope these simple tips to get you on your way to validating your idea have been helpful. And if you’ve written a survey recently, don’t forget our free survey checker will review it for you before you hit send – find out more here.

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