How To Create a Survey in 6 Easy Steps

How To Create a Survey in 6 Easy Steps

Surveys offer an easy way to collect data. Many industries and businesses use surveys to learn more about their audiences and make informed decisions. With a survey, you can get anonymous employee feedback on company culture or gather opinions on what product feature your business should launch next. A good survey is easy to understand and gives customers a clear way to answer.

Learn how to create a survey in six easy steps!

Step 1: Choose a user-friendly survey platform

Step 2: Create a new survey

Step 3: Add your questions

Step 4: Test the survey

Step 5: Send the survey

Step 6: Evaluate the results

Survey Basics

Different types of surveys:

  • Customer feedback
  • Employee engagement
  • Exit interview
  • Market research
  • Product survey
  • Public opinion
  • Academic research

A good survey has several important parts:

Title. Give your survey an appropriate title.

Introduction. Summarize the purpose of the survey and include any legal disclaimers and confidentiality agreements.

Contact. Provide contact information in case of questions or issues.

Product information. If needed, have customers identify which products they purchased.

Instructions. Give clear directions on how to fill out the survey.

Questions. Create direct and easy-to-answer questions.

Demographics. If needed, collect demographic data from your participants.

Thank you. Show appreciation for the audience's participation and let them know if they need to do anything else.

Let’s dive into the steps of making a survey.

Step 1. Choose a user-friendly survey platform

Ready to create your survey? The first step is to choose a platform for creating your survey and collecting results. Instead of starting by opening a Word doc and typing out survey questions and answers, these user-friendly websites let you engage directly with ready-to-use templates and built-in analytics.

Popular sites for creating surveys:

  • Google Forms–free to use, and creating surveys is quick, simple, and collaborative
  • SurveyMonkey–over 40 free templates and a premium option offering more features and advanced analytics
  • Microsoft Forms–has many visual theme options to make an aesthetically pleasing survey
  • Typeform–offers a variety of different integrations and industry-specific templates

When making your survey and choosing your host, start by looking at the available templates and then see what platforms have additional features that you may need. Some sites like SurveyMonkey and Typeform offer free basic surveys, but you can upgrade to a premium or enterprise account with more advanced options.

Social media platforms

If your social media following is the audience you're targeting with your survey, you can create simple polls on your social media channels. These quick stories are perfect for gaining immediate feedback and engaging your followers. Keep in mind you won't have the different survey question options or analytics that a survey platform would give you.

Social Media Poll

  • Instagram. Create polls, quizzes, and This or That options using Instagram story stickers.
  • Facebook. Ask your followers a question and let them choose an answer in a post or create a simple This or That poll on your story.  
  • Twitter. Create a poll with up to four answer choices and have it run for up to seven days.

Step 2. Create a new survey

Okay, it's time to create your survey. Most survey sites ask that you create an account, even if the service is free. This is helpful so you can log back in later to view your results and dive into the analytics. If you already use Google Workspace or Microsoft Teams, you can use your existing login and start creating your survey.

We'll create a Google Forms survey as an example and go step by step through the process. Start by clicking <<Blank>>, which we’ll build as a regular survey without using a template.

Create a new survey

Give your survey a title. This is the name that your participants will see as they fill it out. Adding a relevant title helps you stay organized if you’re conducting more than one survey. Next, add your description (the introduction to your survey).

Upwork Guide to Surveys

Step 3. Add your questions

Now, you can start adding your questions and creating your survey. Each question is an opportunity to gain valuable feedback. A survey is only as good as its questions; you should spend the most time at this step thinking about what you want to ask your audience. The goal is to be as straightforward as possible, so the participant knows exactly what you're asking and how to respond.

When creating your survey questions, you have a variety of options. Depending on the purpose of your survey and the questions you want to ask, you may use a combination of these formats:  

Multiple choice. Use when you want your participants to choose one clear option.

Multiple Choice Example Survey


Multiple Choice Preview

Short answer. Let your participants write a short answer of several words.

Short answer example survey


Short answer preview

Long answer. Give a paragraph of space for longer participant answers.

Check box example


Check box preview

Checkboxes. Similar to multiple-choice answers, but participants can choose more than one option.

Check box


Check box preview

Dropdown. Similar to multiple choice but easier if the list of options to choose from is long.

Dropdown survey


Dropdown preview

Linear scale. Also called a Likert scale, this question shows how strongly the participant feels about their answer.

Linear scale


Linear scale preview

Multiple choice grid. Ask many questions at once in rows with the same answer options in columns for comparison.

Multiple choice grid survey


Multiple choice grid survey preview

Checkbox grid. Similar to the multiple choice grid, but participants can select more than one answer in each column.

Check box grid example


Check box grid example

Tips for asking good survey questions:

  • Ask for one thing at a time. Avoid questions that include two elements that respondents may feel differently about. Break them into two questions instead.
  • Avoid leading questions. Be objective when writing out your questions, and remove any emotional adjectives and descriptions.
  • Ask a question once. Make sure you're not repeating the same question in different ways.
  • Keep it short. Participation can drop off if you ask too many questions; try to keep it under 20.
  • Check for typos. Proofread your survey to check for any mistakes, which can be distracting for participants.
  • Make answers clear. Participants should know exactly how to answer and have options that fit their opinions and situations.
  • Keep it simple. Use clear and jargon-free language. Pretend that your audience knows the least amount possible when taking the survey.
  • Start broad and get specific. When structuring your questions, start with broad questions as an introduction, place the most thought-provoking and longer responses in the middle, and finish with quick questions like demographics.
  • Use absolutes sparingly. Yes or no questions don't always give the full picture. Try adding questions like “how often” or “how much” rather than “do you” to learn more about your audience.
  • Provide alternative answers. Add an option for "other" or a write-in answer in case you didn't think of all of the possibilities.

Step 4. Test the survey

Once you've picked the best questions and strategically arranged them, it's time to test. Before you hit send, you want to make sure that your survey is ready. Taking the time to do some quality assurance and double-check your work can save you time and avoid mistakes. Having problematic questions that are hard to answer or confusing can cause your data to be incorrect.

How to test your survey:

Take it yourself. Set a timer and take your survey, pretending you’re a participant, to see how long it takes and how it looks from a reader’s perspective.

Open on mobile. Make sure your survey looks the same on both Android and iPhone, as well as tablets.

Ask for feedback. Send the survey to a few people you know and ask that they check for any errors and give suggestions.

Do a test run. If you need a bigger test group, send your survey out to a larger sample group as a soft launch and review the data for any issues and abnormalities.

Returning to the sample survey we’re creating on Google Forms, click <<Responses>> to view participants' responses. If you want to close the survey, click <<Accepting responses>> to stop accepting submissions.

Survey responses

If you want feedback on your survey and are sending it to a colleague or sample group, add evaluation questions at the end. First, make a copy of the original survey. Click the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the screen to access the dropdown menu.

Upwork Guide to Surveys

Now, add your evaluation questions at the end of the survey.

Evaluation example

Step 5: Send the survey

After you’re finished testing your survey, making any changes, and are happy with the final version, you can send it to your final audience.

Before pressing the purple <<Send>> button, make sure you delete all test responses (if you have them), so your data will be accurate.

Response email

When you’re ready, press <<Send>> in the top right corner of the page. You’ll have the option to send your survey via email, get a shareable link, or use the HTML code for embedding.

Send form example

You can see your participants’ responses by clicking <<Responses>> at the top of the screen.

Response example

You can turn on email notifications by clicking the three vertical dots on the right side. Once you add your email, you’ll get a notification in your inbox whenever someone completes your survey.

Response notification

How long should you keep your survey open?

SurveyMonkey suggests waiting at least a full week before collecting your data based on their response analysis:

  • 41% of responses were collected within 1 day
  • 66% of responses were collected within 3 days
  • 80% of responses were collected within 7 days

You can wait up to three weeks if you want to give your participants more time. Send out reminders via email or on social media to fill out your survey. You’ll get the majority of your responses in the first week, but late responses can trickle in the following weeks.

Step 6. Evaluate the results

The results are in, and it's time to analyze the different types of data! You created a great survey and want to see the results. The evaluation step is how you take the survey data and turn it into insights. Your results can inform you of important factors like brand health, product features, and customer satisfaction.

How to evaluate your results:

  1. View the number of participants. Having enough participants (sample size) helps with the validity (significance) of your data. You can use this sample size calculator to see what the ideal sample size would be.
  2. Determine significance. Based on the number of responses and the participant demographics, evaluate whether or not the results accurately represent your audience.
  3. Look at the top questions. The questions that have the highest contrasts, e.g., 80% answered yes, and 20% answered no, are your top questions. These tend to give the biggest insights.
  4. Choose the type of analytics. The type of data analytics you do depends on what you're looking to get from the data; analyses could help predict future outcomes or help you make an informed decision on what to do next.
  5. Divide your data. Break down your data by demographics or certain answers (e.g., brand or product chosen), so you can compare and make inferences.
  6. Compare to past results. Ideally, you have data to compare the results to. If not, use this survey as a baseline to compare to when measuring future results.
  7. Export and visualize data. You can export your results to Google Sheets, so you can make graphs and charts and do further data analysis.

If you want to export your data, click on the Google Sheets icon on the results page.

Google Export

Click <<Create>> to view your data in Sheets.

Google Sheet

You can analyze the data on your own or use a data analysis tool:

  • MonkeyLearn. Uses AI to evaluate customer feedback, including written responses. Offers NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Analysis) feedback.
  • Dives deep into the data and presents it in a dashboard with easy-to-interpret insights.
  • NVivo. Specializes in analyzing qualitative data and has industry-specific solutions for education, government, nonprofit, commercial, and health.

Remember, causation is not always correlation. Just because two items seem to be related through data does not mean that one causes the other. Sometimes an unknown third factor is involved.

For example, if the survey indicates that the number of people owning pets positively correlates with the number of people freelancing, does this mean that owning a pet leads to more people deciding to freelance? Not necessarily. During the pandemic lockdowns, more people became pet owners, and freelancing became more popular. The pandemic is a third variable, which was unaccounted for in the survey.

Design the perfect survey with expert help

Need a little extra help creating your next survey? Find a survey designer on Upwork! Whether you need help writing out the perfect questions or diving into your data, you can find independent professionals ready to get started. If you know what you want, browse Project CatalogTM and find fixed-priced surveys and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Do you love creating surveys? Head to our Talent Marketplace to see what projects are available right now for survey creation. Upwork is the world's work marketplace, where clients meet independent talent excited to take on their projects, and independent talent go to build their careers.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.


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Author Spotlight

How To Create a Survey in 6 Easy Steps
Cassie Moorhead
Content Writer

Cassie is a storyteller and content creator with over eight years of experience helping brands communicate to their customers through different channels. She enjoys finding new coffee shops to work from and spending time in nature with her dog, Sweeney.

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