Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice

Subject: Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:40:47 -0500

People using online help want a solution to an immediate problem. They do NOT want, when looking for the help, to be presented with anything about a survey. I normally send those surveys to my own version of /dev/null (formerly the circular file).

The people who answer the surveys have already self-selected themselves to be the ones who don't need crucial answers NOW.

Additionally, most surveys are badly constructed, and have at least one of these faults:
- Ask for rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (or 0 to 9) instead of "bad - don't care - good".
- Present the perpetrator of the survey with numeric results that are really without meaning.
- Annoy people with mandatory selections.
- Annoy people with selections like "needs improvement - okay - great" when "horrid" should have been one of the choices.
- Fail to collect lengthy, written responses.
- Fail to collect a critique of the survey itself.
- Seem to pretend a preservation of anonymity.
- Indicate in flashing neon that the questions were never tested on a naive audience.

There are plenty of other faults. Those are just some.

Try to make sure your survey is harmless, or at least mostly harmless.

On Mon, 11 Jan 2016 15:37:16 -0500, David Renn <daverenn08 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

Hi Whirlers,

My company is working to put together a set of survey questions to gather
information about our online help users.

The general premise is to simply find out more about our users. That is,
who they are, what information they typically look for, what sort of
format/organization they prefer online help content to be in, what they
think of our current help, etc, etc.

For those of you who have experience with this, do you have any stories to
share about your experience or general advice? Are there any particular
questions you think are must-haves to include in surveys like this? Is
there a sort of tone or way of framing questions that yield the most
helpful results? Overall, what advice do you have that would potentially
get the best information to us provide the most relevant, meaningful,
direct, and user-friendly help content?
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