The sequence of questions is important to signaling the sort of responses you expect people to share.
It is a best practice to organize questions from the specific to the general. That gives people some simple questions to answer first before moving on to “open-ended” questions. This structure helps ensure that, by the time respondents reach the more open questions, they’re more inclined to give us in-depth, narrative information that may surprise us and tell us something we didn’t know.
a. Structured (closed-ended, or "sorting" questions)
Start with a few structured questions—questions that have a predetermined set of answers that the respondent can choose from: radio buttons, drop-down menus, check boxes, etc. These have a couple of key virtues.
- They make it easier for the analyst to manage and search responses as they come in.
- They get respondents into the rhythm of the survey, helping them understand the sorts of information you’re looking for, and prepping them for the questions with less structure later on
b. Open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are designed to give the respondent space to tell their story in their own words: text, text area (also called text paragraph).
A note on Standard questions: When you use standard questions, you can change the way the question is phrased, but not the response values. This is because the response values that a respondent selects map directly into their AIR record, making their responses especially easy to search.
Here is an example from KUOW: