Whole numbers or ranges?

When we write surveys, we often have to make a choice for dollar or frequency questions. We can ask for a precise number such as:

How many times have you visited any of our stores in the past twelve months prior to your most recent visit? (Please enter a number from 0-365)

Or we can ask for an accurate range such as:

1-2 times
3-5 times
6-10 times
Over 10 times

With the typed in field, it's unlikely a respondent can provide a quick answer. Instead they have to stop in their tracks, attempt to mentally tally, and then still throw a guess into the field. Interestingly, the people who will be most inconvenienced by this question are not the first time shoppers, but the more frequent customers.

While the ranges still involve a pause and tally, if you construct good options for your audience they'll quickly zero in on one or two that feel about right. Then it's just a quick mental check to see which is the best fit. Because you're asking for them to select within a range, this tends to produce an answer which is more accurate than the single value.

Whenever you have this type of question, take a moment to ponder whether the "precise" approach is really going to get you the best quality information or whether you'll be well served by another method.

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Thanks again for the excellent training sessions. You were able to keep it interesting and worth every penny. You have such a thorough understanding of the software. ~~sigh~~ to be that wise!

Susan L. Despot
California University of Pennsylvania