Surveys or questionnaires are a user research method in which a broad range of users are sent the same set of questions to collect broad insights and trends about a given topic or market.
Characteristics of Surveys
Because surveys rely on data self-reported by users, they are considered an attitudinal research method. They are also a quantitative research method since their results can be measured numerically. In some cases, surveys can provide a combination of quantitative and qualitative data by including a combination of closed questions (participants select from a limited set of options) and open-ended questions (participants explain their answer in a text box).
Survey design commonly starts with understanding the research question(s) and purpose of the study. A pilot survey can be created to test the survey and iterate on the format before rolling out the survey to real participants. In general, survey questions should be examined to remove biases or leading questions to avoid influencing the results (this Miro’s article shows how to get the most out of UX surveys). Once results have been collected, the process moves on to analysis to examine takeaways and trends from the data.
Combining with Other Methods
Surveys or questionnaires are often used in combination with other methods as part of mixed methods research. For example, surveys may be used before conducting interviews to get a sense for broader trends, or after user testing or diary studies to collect reflections or feedback from participants. Screener surveys may be used to qualify participants for a research study.