Whether you’re using an online or paper survey, the number of answers available for the participant to select will affect the outcome. There are a couple of things people should take into consideration when it comes to designing their survey.
How many options does a survey need? Is the length of the list far too long? A lengthy questionnaire won’t tolerated by your customers with busy lives, i.e. every last one of them. Too many choices cause participants to become anxious and indecisive with their answers.
Scrolling through a lengthy question
Having to scroll through questions with far too many answers can be quite annoying for anyone taking a survey. The participant will likely forget what the questions originally were. And it wastes too much time. The type of questions asked can also lead to difficulties in answering the questions. Asking them what their favorite feature or product is is great. But when you and load it up with 30 answers, the responders will have a difficult time in choosing. Participants won’t even remember them all when it comes down to making their decision. After a while participants will simply choose to an answer to move on. Not to provide you with honest feedback.
If a question needs many options for an answer in the survey, make sure it’s organized in a meaningful way. For instance, if a survey asked the participants favorite product, the list of answers should be placed in an alphabetical manner or sorted into groups. Plenty of demographic questions use a variety of options for responses. One good example would be “What country do you live in?” This is a standard question that has many options.
In the end, nobody can really give you an exact idea on what’s too many when it comes down to your own survey question. You need to decide that based on the actual topic in question and the feedback that you want to receive. Remember to put yourself in the shoes of the participants and see if it annoys you from wanting to take it, or have a group of coworkers test it for you before publishing it and asking if it’s too much. When all else fails, keep it simple!