Chapter 5

9 UX survey best practices from expert UX leaders

Running a user research survey with no real direction or goal is about as useful as having a flashlight with no batteries. You’re on the right path, but you don’t have the tools to truly illuminate your next steps.

UX teams often find themselves drowning in data but starved for insights—making it difficult to ensure confident decision-making.

The problem? Their user experience surveys aren't designed to collect the right information.

Before you set off on your UX survey journey, there are a few UX survey best practices to guarantee and maintain success along the way.

In the last chapter of this UX survey guide, we’ll cover nine UX survey best practices to take your user research to the next level.

Why are UX surveys valuable in user research?

There’s a number of reasons UX surveys are one of the most widely-conducted UX research methods.

Sakshi Bhardwaj, Lead UX Designer at Gemini Solutions, shares why she finds UX surveys irreplacable in user research: “I've found UX surveys to be invaluable in that they unveil the nuanced perspectives of users. They’re a powerful tool for understanding user needs, which is the cornerstone of effective design.”

Not only do UX surveys help you collect in-depth insights on user experience, they’re also more cost-effective than other research methods. As an unmoderated research method, user surveys can be sent to multiple users at once and don’t require the presence of a researcher, so they’re a great option if you’re limited on time or budget.

What’s more, if you’re looking to gather large amounts of quantitative data quickly, UX surveys can get a lot of insights, fast. Since the questions are all standardized, UX surveys also guarantee you’ll get consistent data you can sort, contrast, and compare.

So, how do you make the most out of this UX research method?

9 UX survey best practices to keep in mind

While surveys might seem simple, like any research technique, they require the right skills and considerations to get the insights you need. Your chosen survey design, questions, analysis, or platform can make all the difference between insight-driven product development and a skewed view of what your users really think.

Here are nine UX survey best practices from industry experts to run better user surveys.

1. Ask demographic questions up front

Asking your participants for demographic information helps you ensure you’re looking at the right data, and brings your survey closer to your target audience.

Getting participant demographics early on helps you better contextualize the responses given. Haley Stracher, CEO and Design Director at Iris Design Collaborative, emphasizes that “Gathering demographic information (age, gender, location, etc.) as the first few questions is critical. This will help you segment and analyze the tests to understand how different users may be using your platform.”

Demographics doesn’t mean treating users different, but understanding how different groups might face different challenges. For example, you may find that 75% of your audience between the ages of 25 and 30 find your search bar usable, while only 35% of participants between the ages of 45 and 60 find the same.

If you’re tracking usability and customer satisfaction, demographic information will also help create better user personas in one fell swoop. You’ll be getting foundational user information you can build upon for future research projects.

2. Use templates as a starting point

While you need to make sure your survey fits your research plan and objectives, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Make your job easier by utilizing helpful UX survey tools and UX survey templates that can speed-up your survey build. Gabriella Lopes, Product Designer at Maze, mentions some of her favorite templates for effective UX survey questioning: “I try to leverage Maze templates, like the Satisfaction Survey and New Feature Question, as much as I can. You can also use past surveys, as some of your questions might have already been asked before—such as demographic questions.”

When it comes to questions, you can draw inspiration from question repositories like the Maze Question Bank. These might need fine-tuning before being implemented in your UX survey design, so remember to adjust research questions for your product and audience.

However, using question and survey design templates as a starting point can set you on the right track and help elicit eye-opening responses on usability, customer satisfaction, pricing, and more key user experience levers.

3. Ensure questions are free of jargon

Your survey shouldn't confuse participants, let alone send them searching for UX definitions.

It’s crucial that your survey questions are inclusive and answerable by every participant. By including industry-specific terminology in your questions, you’re preventing participants from understanding what you need from them and risking lower response rates.

Remember that English may not be your participants' first language, Gabriella notes: “I avoid words and phrasings that are too culture-specific or complex for non-native English speakers, as we have an international user base.” Jargon-free and clear questions make your surveys more accessible and translatable for a broader audience.

Plus, that isn’t the only advantage—Sakshi shares, “language can inadvertently introduce biases. Using language that is inclusive and unambiguous is a deliberate step to minimize potential biases.”

Avoiding cognitive biases and leading questions is a huge consideration when creating UX surveys, and the language you use is key for ensuring you don’t influence participant responses.

4. Limit friction in your UX survey

It’s key to make your UX surveys as easy to complete as possible. Respondents shouldn’t have a hard time answering your questions.

Gabriella suggests considering your question types to limit friction: “Research participants often don't have a lot of time to spare and will drop off surveys at the first friction point.”

It can help to minimize how many types of question you ask in one survey, so users can feel familiar with the UX survey question types to expect and focus on their answers, rather than having to adjust to a new format with each question.

This also impacts how many questions you include in your survey: consider using fewer questions if you’re opting for open-ended responses, as these take more effort from users to fill in.

Gabriella recommends allowing users to skip certain questions: “Some other things I do to keep completion rates high include letting people skip non-essential questions by marking them as optional, and applying conditional logic to make sure participants are only shown questions that are relevant to them.”

In short, to get high response rates and improve insights, keep an eye on your survey length, consider minimizing the variety of question types in your UX survey, and remember to run a pilot test to check for errors.

5. Let users answer anonymously

While it’s not always possible to allow anonymity in UX surveys—you may need full names to prove consent (a key UX research best practice or contact details for follow-up questions—consider whether you could accept anonymous responses, and at least reassure participants that their answers will be separated from their identities.

When participants know their names aren’t attached to their responses, they’re more likely to answer questions candidly. This keeps you from getting answers that have been influenced by social desirability bias. On the other side, anonymity minimizes are chance of bias creeping into your UX survey analysis.

Encouraging honest feedback is achieved by guaranteeing participant anonymity. This practice is grounded in scientific understanding of the impact of anonymity on survey responses.

Sakshi Bhardwaj, Lead UX Designer at Gemini Solutions

Make sure your participant knows they’ll have full anonymity when answering your UX surveys. Outline this before the first question or even when distributing the survey. If you’re asking demographic questions, reassure participants that none of the demographic info they’ve provided can be used to identify them and it’s purely for research purposes.

6. Provide incentives for survey participants

What if you urgently need high response rates on your UX survey?

Providing incentives is a great way to boost your chances of engagement and response rates when recruiting research participants. Consider offering digital products or services at a discount. Exclusive access to a new feature or functionality is another way to pique user interest.

Sakshi shares: “to incentivize participation, we offered tangible benefits such as discounts or exclusive access. This dual strategy not only attracted a diverse pool of participants but also improved the overall response rate.”
Ensure that users can easily redeem their rewards, too. Once the survey is complete, participants should be able to access their digital product, service, or discount hassle-free. Smooth, automated reward redemption will also make users more likely to participate in future UX surveys.

7. Summarize findings to win stakeholder attention

With illuminating insights at your fingertips, you’ve completed a major UX milestone. You’re now ready to tell stakeholders all the interesting things you've learned about your users.

Getting stakeholder buy-in is notoriously difficult for UX professionals. Understandably, most decision-makers aren’t keen to act on insights that require budget and time they don’t have spare, so it’s crucial to fully communicate the value of harnessing user insights.

Gabriella recommends trying to capture stakeholder attention from the get-go: “I usually send a message in Slack with some key bullet points of the most important research findings. The trick here is to be concise and capture people's attention, so they’re interested in clicking to view the full report within Maze.”

It’s also valuable to add some context to the findings, for those want extra detail. “Sometimes I also recorded a short Loom going over the main learnings in the report to make sure people capture all nuances of what we learned and get all of the context they need,” says Gabriella.

By sharing crucial insights and findings in bitesize formats initially, then introducing deeper scene-setting, you’re able to better capture stakeholder interest and encourage greater buy-in across the board.

8. Don’t be overhasty when implementing insights

After creating, distributing, and analyzing your surveys, it’s time to action the insights you uncover. Your research strategy may be around a new feature, or assessing the value of a current one, but either way it’s essential that you don’t jump the gun.

Before making changes to your platform, whether that’s a small piece of UX copy, or a full feature redesign, consider how implementing changes in your product affects all users. Haley warns that it’s easy to take one person’s dissatisfaction and run to solve it—but it’s crucial to remember you’re building a product for everyone.

“The biggest pitfall with UX surveys is that even if only one or two people are experiencing the frustration, a lot of companies will jump the gun to fix it right away, without acknowledging that other users may like or enjoy that feature.

“It’s easy to make the fix right away because the user may be very frustrated, so our instinct is to prioritize getting the issue immediately resolved. But you need to be think through any changes and validate them with additional UX research.”

Remember, UX insights need careful consideration before you can start working them into your product. Conduct further research with your UX team to evaluate how even a seemingly small change may impact wider user experience, and gather feedback from other users.

9. Stay on top of AI tools to support your UX survey process

Running UX surveys can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. It’s also a continuous process that needs constant refinement as you develop your user-driven product.

Integrating AI user research tools into your UX workflow allows you to get more insights in less time. You’ll also be able to focus on reaching creative solutions while AI handles the complex or repetitive tasks in your workflow.

For example, here’s how Maze AI can support your UX research process:

  • Generate better UX survey questions: The Perfect Question uses AI to analyze your questions, identify any bias or errors, and provide clear, unbiased alternatives
  • Create dynamic surveys: AI follow-up questions offer deeper insights by generating contextual follow-up questions in your survey based on a participant’s answer
  • Get insights faster: Automated analysis and reporting highlights key trends in your research projects, helping you go from data to insights faster

While AI can’t replace entire segments of your UX survey process, AI and research can be perfect companions when looking to improve user experience. Haley notes AI is a great place to start when looking to expedite time-consuming tasks:

“I use AI for the manual parts that might take me a bit longer without AI. For example, AI can be a great tool and starting point for anything text-related—like writing survey questions or generating reports.”

Implementing AI in your UX workflow can help streamline and optimize your research, as well as identify bias and sparking ideas, ultimately helping you save time, money, and energy.

Achieving actionable insights with UX surveys

The road to user insights may seem long and treacherous, but with your trusty flashlight of UX surveys guiding you you’re more than ready to design a survey, analyze the results, and action the insights for a truly user-driven product.

UX surveys are an incredibly valuable tool in your UX research toolkit. They provide you with a structured approach for gathering data at scale while helping you uncover your users’ nuanced perspectives.

Maze’s UX survey solution is perfectly positioned to help you achieve this. Measure customer satisfaction, test new ideas, and dive deeper into customer feedback with surveys to move you closer toward your product goals. You’ll also gain access to a wide variety of other moderated and unmoderated UX research tools to help you build a truly user-centric product experience.

It’s time to turn on that insight-illuminating flashlight and get started with your user experience surveys—take it away.

Reach actionable user insights with Maze UX surveys

Maze lets you design, run, and analyze game-changing UX surveys for actionable insights.

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Frequently asked questions about UX survey best practices

What are some tips for designing a UX survey?

Some of the best practices for designing a UX survey include:

  • Asking demographic questions
  • Using templates as a starting point
  • Ensure you’re asking jargon-free questions
  • Limit friction in your UX survey
  • Let users answer anonymously
  • Incentivize survey participants with rewards
  • Summarize your findings to win stakeholder attention
  • Don’t be overhasty when implementing insights
  • Stay on top of new and upcoming AI tools

What are the most important things to keep in mind when conducting a UX survey?

Some of the most important things to keep in mind when conducting a UX survey are aligning questions to your overarching UX goal, avoiding bias, and making UX survey completion easier for higher response rates.

How many participants for a UX survey?

The ideal number of participants depends on the scope of your UX survey goal and your user base. For qualitative in-depth surveys, as little as 10 participants can help you achieve insights. However, quantitative-based insights and trends require at least 30 to 50 participants.