Best Survey Question Strategies for Website Usability Testing

A common mistake most businesses make when choosing their survey questions for website usability testing is to use multiple choice questions. 

It’s tempting to shy away from asking open questions with a free-text reply box, especially if you have lots of traffic. 

Use open questions for website surveys

Using multiple choice or radio button answers are tempting because it cuts down on the work of analysing the feedback, particularly if you get thousands of responses.

But don’t take this shortcut. There’s HUGE value in free-text answers – it’s a mistake that most of your competitors are probably still making – so make sure to take advantage.

  1. If you force a user to answer based on a selection YOU pre-populated, who’s thoughts are you really getting? What if there are things happening on the page that you haven’t thought of? You’ll miss them because you didn’t create an option for that. Let the user tell you their problems in their own words.
  2. By leaving it as free text, you get a granular level of detail on the problems or objections the visitor has. As they use their own words you’ll start to see genuine trends, and you’ll be able to more accurately assess the scale of the opportunity based on the frequency of similar responses.
  3. If you leave it free text, your users will sometimes tell you how to best fix the problem. Handy.
  4. Depending on the questions you ask the answers you elicit from your users will contain genuine, real-world language to describe their problems, frustrations and delights. You can adapt, adopt and apply this language to your descriptions, and connect more directly with your target audience.

Use Live Chat to find the questions your users are already asking

If you’ve only seen Live Chat as an aid to conversion, you’ve missed a huge amount of the value it can deliver. The objections you’ll find hidden in the transcripts are worth their weight in gold.

If you already have a Live Chat client installed on the site, use your conversion funnel to identify a page with high attrition, then pull off transcripts from chats that began on that page.

You’ll find them chock full of insight you can take and start to build new content around.

Mine them, introduce new content to the site, test it, and reap the benefits.

(If you don’t have a Live Chat client installed, take a free trial, install it, and see if there’s a business case for keeping it as a voice-of-customer tool alone. There probably is.)

Recruit usability testers from specific website pages

The usefulness of feedback from a service like is limited, because it only allows you to recruit testers from a panel of volunteers that are not representative of your target market.

On the other hand a tool like Ethnio allows you to recruit usability testers direct from specific pages of your website.

You simply create a ‘screener’ and place it on your site with one JavaScript snippet. Your visitors fill it out and you get real-time notifications. Then you call them to do live remote usability. You can even send them to a 3rd party tool like (Although the functionality that lets you do this could be slicker.)

With a few carefully chosen questions on the screener you can make sure that the volunteers are qualified prospects. People that actually have the wants, needs and desires that your product or service meets. This makes the insights you get infinitely more valuable.

To learn more about improving your website usability testing programme, read our guide on How to Use Usability Testing to Increase Your Conversion Rate:


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Posted in: Conversion Rate Optimisation, CRO Tools and Resources

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