In the book “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” Steve Krug defines guidelines for usability writing, or, as he puts it: the art of not writing for the web. He lists a few: omit needless words, happy talk must die, and instructions must die. His basic rule is: get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left. There is a lot to be considered from the usability world to the world of surveys and research marketing.
The idea is not to kill half of the questions in a survey to make it good, or eliminate instructions (the happy talk really must die), but to apply this merciless analytical detachment to separate a good survey from a bad one. In the same sense that good usability is intuitive to users, to the point where they don’t have to think to browse a website, a good survey is intuitive to the goal of the research in a way that feels (but isn’t) obvious. A lot of thinking is put into carefully chosen-words and question formats to make the survey experience seamless.
Good survey matters because it will bring actionable insights from data; it will come full circle with the research goal and will answer the research question with solutions. Bad research is worse than no research: it is like using an upside-down map. You think you know where you are going and you are sure that you are following the right signs, but you just end up making bad decision after bad decision.