Open-Ended vs Closed-Ended Questions:
Examples and How to Use Them

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When it comes to surveys, one of the first decisions you have to make is whether to ask open-ended or closed-ended questions. The difference between the two types of questions is that closed-ended questions provide a specified range of responses that the respondent must choose from, while open-ended questions allow respondents to answer however they wish. By understanding the difference between the two, you can learn to ask better questions and get more actionable answers.

The examples below look at open and closed-ended questions in the context of a website survey, but the principle applies across any type of survey. Closed-ended questions are useful for getting specific information about something, such as how satisfied someone is with a product or service. They can also be used to make sure everyone responds to the question in the same way. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, are useful for getting people’s opinions and ideas about something.

When deciding which type of question to ask, it’s important to think about what information you’re trying to get and how you want to use it. If you’re looking for detailed feedback, an open-ended question is probably best. But if you’re trying to compare different products or services, a closed-ended question might be more appropriate.

Examples of open-ended and closed-ended questions

Here are some open ended question examples and closed-ended questions that could be used in a website survey:

 

Closed-ended question: How satisfied are you with the website?

Open-ended question: What do you think of the website?

Closed-ended question: How easy is it to find what you’re looking for on the website?

Open-ended question: What do you think about the website’s navigation?

 

Asking a mix of both open and closed-ended questions in your survey will give you a well-rounded view of people’s opinions and help you make better decisions.

When to use open ended questions vs closed ended questions?

There are times when you might want to use close-ended questions and times when an open-ended question would be better. It all depends on the situation and what information you’re trying to get.

When to ask close-ended questions?

close-ended-question

Some circumstances in which you might want to use a closed question are if you’re looking for specific information or if you want to make sure everyone responds to the question in the same way.

For example, if you’re doing a customer satisfaction survey, you might want to ask a close-ended question like “How satisfied are you with the product?” This question will give you quantitative data that you can use to compare different products or services.

Close-ended questions can also be easier to answer, especially if respondents are pressed for time.

While closed questions can be helpful in some situations, they do have some limitations. One of the main limitations is that they don’t allow respondents to elaborate on their answers. This can be a problem if you’re trying to get detailed feedback about something.

When to ask open-ended questions?

open-ended-question

Open-ended questions don’t have this problem because they allow respondents to answer however they want.

 

 

Some circumstances in which you might want to ask open-ended questions are if you’re looking for people’s opinions and ideas about something, or if you want respondents to elaborate on their answers.

For example, if you’re doing a survey about website navigation, you might want to ask an open-ended question like “What do you think about the website’s navigation?” This type of question will encourage respondents to give a more thoughtful answer.

By using an open ended questionnaire, you allow respondents to share their thoughts and feelings on the topic at hand, without being limited by answer choices. By giving them the opportunity to explain their thinking in their own language, you can gain valuable insights that you might not have otherwise uncovered.

However, open-ended questions can be more time-consuming to analyze because you have to go through each response individually. In general, it’s best to use a mix of both open and closed-ended questions in your surveys. This will give you a well-rounded view of people’s opinions and help you make better decisions.

How do you analyze open ended questions?

Coding qualitative data

coding-categories

When analyzing open-ended questions, it’s helpful to code the data into different categories. This will make it easier to see patterns and trends in the data.

For example, let’s say you’re doing a survey about website navigation and you ask the question “What do you think about the website’s navigation?” You might code the data into categories like “confusing,” “easy to use,” or “needs improvement.”

By coding the data, you can quickly see which themes are coming up most often. This can be helpful when making decisions about how to improve your website.

If you’re not sure how to code qualitative data, there are many resources available online that can help. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to analyze open-ended questions more effectively and glean valuable insights from your surveys.

One way to analyze open-ended questions is through sentiment analysis. This is a process of determining whether the overall tone of the answers is positive, negative, or neutral.

To do this, you can go through each response and coding it as “positive,” “negative,” or “neutral.” Once you have all of the responses coded, you can calculate the percentage of positive, negative, and neutral responses.

This can be a helpful way to get a quick overview of people’s opinions on a topic. For example, if you’re doing a survey about customer service and most of the responses are coded as “negative,” then you know that there’s room for improvement in that area.

If you want to get more detailed with your sentiment analysis, you can also break down the answers by category. For example, if you’re looking at customer service, you might code responses about “rude staff” as negative and responses about “long wait times” as neutral.

This can help you to identify specific areas that need improvement. By understanding the sentiment of the answers, you can make better decisions about how to move forward.

Sentiment Analysis

sentiment-analysis

Text analytics software programs

text-analytics

There are many different text analytics software programs available on the market. Some of the most popular ones include IBM Watson, Google Cloud Natural Language API, and Microsoft Azure Text Analytics.

These programs offer different features and pricing plans, so it’s important to compare them before choosing one. In general, they all provide similar functionality, such as the ability to analyze text data and extract insights from it.

Text analytics software can be used for a variety of purposes, such as sentiment analysis, topic modeling, and named entity recognition. By understanding what each program offers, you can choose the one that best meets your needs.

If you’re not sure which text analytics software to choose, there are many resources available online that can help. Once you’ve selected a program, you’ll be well on your way to extracting valuable insights from your text data.

Another way to analyze open-ended questions is through a word cloud tool. This is a type of software that takes in a block of text and produces a visualization that shows the most common words used.

This can be helpful in understanding what people are saying about a particular topic. For example, if you’re doing a survey about customer service, you might input all of the answers into a word cloud tool. The resulting visualization would show which words were used most often.

If you see that the word “rude” is one of the most common, then you know that there’s room for improvement in that area. Word clouds can be helpful in quickly understanding the sentiment of the answers and identifying areas for improvement.

Using a word cloud tool

word-cloud

Hiring a professional research company to analyze your data for you

If you don’t have the time or resources to analyze your data yourself, you can always hire a professional research company to do it for you. There are many companies that offer this service, so it’s important to compare them before making a decision.

In general, these companies will charge a fee based on the size and complexity of your data set. They will then use their expertise to extract insights from the data and provide you with a report.

This can be a helpful way to get reliable results without having to do all the work yourself. However, it’s important to note that this option can be more expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you may have to do it yourself.

These are just a few ways you can go about analyzing open ended questions. It really depends on the situation and what resources you have available to you.

If you’re doing a small survey with only a few responses, coding the data yourself might be feasible. But if you’re dealing with hundreds or even thousands of responses, it might be more realistic to hire a professional research company to do the analysis for you.

No matter what method you choose, taking the time to properly analyze these questions will give you valuable insights that can help

Tips for creating survey questions

# Tip 1 - Encourage honest feedback

It’s important to encourage honest feedback in your survey questions. This can be done in a few different ways.

First, you can make it clear that all responses will be kept confidential. This will help ensure that people feel comfortable being honest in their answers.

You can also offer an incentive for taking the survey. This could be something like a discount or a chance to win a prize.

Finally, you can remind people that their feedback is helpful and appreciated. Thanking them in advance is often enough to encourage people to take the time to fill out the survey honestly.

# Tip 2 - Avoid leading questions

One way to avoid leading questions is to use neutral language. This means avoiding words that could influence the answer, such as “good” or “bad”.

Another way to avoid this is to ask about specific behaviors rather than general attitudes. For example, instead of asking “Do you like our website?”, you could ask “What did you think of the navigation on our website?”.

Asking specific questions will help ensure that you get more accurate results.

# Tip 3 - Don't ask 'double barreled' questions

A double barreled question is one that asks about two things at the same time. For example, “Do you like our website and find it easy to use?”.

Asking double barreled questions can be confusing for respondents and lead to inaccurate results. It’s best to avoid them if possible.

If you do need to ask about two things at the same time, it’s best to create two separate questions. This will make it easier for people to answer and will give you more accurate results.

helpful-tips

# Tip 4 - Keep the question length short

It’s important to keep the question length short and to the point. This will help ensure that people don’t get bored or frustrated while taking the survey.

If a question is too long, people may start skimming and not reading all of the text. This can lead to misunderstanding the question and providing inaccurate answers.

It’s also important to avoid using jargon or technical terms in your questions. If people don’t understand what a word means, they may not be able to answer the question accurately.

Keeping questions short, simple and easy to understand will help ensure that you get more accurate results from your survey.

# Tip 5 - Remove bad responses

It’s important to remove bad responses from your data set when doing a analysis of open ended questions. Doing this will ensure that the results are more accurate and reliable.

Bad responses can include non-sensical responses, use of profanity or a one word answer. There are questions where one word answers would be acceptable, so use your judgement.

There are a few different ways you can go about doing this. You can do this manually by reading through all of the responses and removing any that are clearly not relevant. This can be time-consuming, but it’s the most accurate way to do it.

Alternatively you can use a text analytics software program to automatically filter out bad responses. These programs use algorithms to identify and remove irrelevant or inappropriate responses.

# Tip 6 - Don't ask 'double barreled' questions

It’s important to know how long it will take people to answer your questions before you create your survey. This will help you determine how many questions you can realistically ask and ensure that people don’t get bored or frustrated while taking the survey.

As a general rule, open-ended questions will take longer to answer than closed-ended questions. This is because people have to think about their answer and may need to write out a response.

Closed-ended questions are usually quicker to answer as they provide a specified range of answers to choose from. However, some close-ended questions can be just as time-consuming as open-ended questions if there are a lot of possible answers to choose from.

Final thoughts...

Asking better questions is essential for getting accurate survey results. Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer however they wish, while closed-ended questions provide a specified range of answers to choose from. 

Keep questions short, simple and easy to understand to encourage honest feedback. Consider how long it will take people to answer your questions before creating your survey. This will help you determine how many questions you can realistically ask. Asking better questions leads to more accurate survey results.

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