By Liezl van Zyl

How to use multiple choice questions in user testing

User testing is an integral part of legal design and information design. In this series, we share practical tips for asking the right questions to get to the right answers.
Using multiple-choice questions in usability testing

If you’re into clear communication, you know that getting feedback from readers is crucial. We’re all about different types of feedback, be it at the water cooler or with a serious questionnaire. The thing is, if you are making the effort to get feedback, you need to make sure that you are asking the right questions so that you’re sure you’re getting the data you need. In this series, we look at how you can enhance the quality of data that you receive from participants by asking the right types of questions. First up we are looking at multiple-choice questions.  

Multiple-choice questions are 

Questions with a set of predetermined possible answers. These include yes/no and true/false questions.

Participants can only select one answer from the list of options in multiple-choice questions, which makes it different to multiple-answer questions where you can select more than one option from the list.  

Multiple-choice questions are great when 

  • You have little time and you need feedback quickly. The data will be quick and easy to analyse. 
  • You are working with a large number of people. It’ll make it easier to analyse the data and understand patterns.  
  • You want to test understanding. The data will clearly show where people are struggling to understand something.  

Avoid these mistakes 

  • Three to four options are the sweet spot. Too few options turn it into a guessing game, and too many options can be confusing (not to mention more work for you when you set up the questions). 
  • Don’t use negative statements when the answers are true/false. For example “It is not possible to get a loan” – If the answer is true, does that mean that it is possible to get a loan or not? 
  • Don’t use multiple-choice questions when you want detailed feedback. Multiple-choice questions will give you data that is easy to process and analyse, but they won’t give you nuanced, detailed answers to life’s most meaningful questions. 

Want us to chime in on your usability testing project? Give us a shout!