By Liezl van Zyl

Using Likert-type questions in usability testing

If you're testing people's attitude towards your contracts or documents, Likert-type questions are great! Here's how to use them.
How to use Likert-type questions in user testing

Asking the right questions in the right way is very important to get the right answers. We’re on post three in our series on question types and how to ask them. If you’ve missed the first two posts you can find them here. Today’s post is about one of our all-time favourite question types: Likert-type questions. 

Likert-type questions are 

Likert-type questions use a five to seven-point scale to measure attitude.

Participants are asked to what extent they agree or disagree with a set of statements. It’s important to ask the questions as a set to combat some of the most common biases, where respondents tend to want to be agreeable, or think that there is a correct response and guess at it.  

The most popular types of Likert-type questions measure agreement, likelihood, satisfaction and importance.

Likert-type questions are great when 

  • You’re asking a participant’s opinion on something. 
  • You want to be able to easily draw out and analyse data (Likert-type answers make great bar charts!).
  • You want to get more nuanced answers than simply ‘yes’, or ‘no’.

Avoid these mistakes 

  • Don’t mix and match negative and positive statements. You can throw in a negative statement every now and then to make sure that the respondent is still awake, but don’t make every second statement negative.  
  • When you start out with Likert scales, don’t have more than 5 options on the scale. Five options means you have a neutral position in the middle, so you don’t have to force someone to agree or disagree when they really can’t be fazed.

Useful resources

If you’re interested in reading more about Likert-type questions, this article by the Nielsen Norman Group compares Likert-type questions with Semantic Differencial-type questions. And this article by User Testing offers really practical advice for using different types of rating scales.

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