I'm designing a UI for a long and complex questionnaire, to do with legal services.

My client feels that almost every section should start with a "Does this apply? Y/N" question, forcing the user to make a choice, so the client can be sure that the user has consciously looked at the question. The alternative is to allow the user to leave fields blank - this may make for a cleaner UI but it may be unclear whether the user has deliberately left the question blank or missed it by accident.

The questionnaire will be used face-to-face with people in potentially difficult situations, and because of the unpredictable nature of the meetings it's hard to predict the order in which questions will be answered and there won't be any 'required' fields because some things won't apply.

Can anyone point to any resources or examples about data collection design that may help, or point to any experiences you've had with something similar?

Many thanks, Tom


A lot of questionnaires include the option "Don't know" and make all the questions mandatory.

I filled in a user feedback questionnaire for The Guardian today, and several of the questions had a don't know option as well as a 10-point Likert scale (which I would consider to be too long).

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  • Yeah 10 point scales are excessive - 3 (positive/neutral/negative) or 5 (with very/slightly positive/negative, and neutral) along with "Don't know" or similar is usually best. 10 point scales are much too fine grained for opinion questions, and scales should be odd-numbered to allow for a neutral option. – Jon Story Dec 10 '15 at 15:41
  • Thanks both, good to hear your thoughts. Having all questions (with "Don't know" options) as mandatory is an option. If anyone can point to any general resources online about designing large/complex questionnaires that would be fascinating. – Tom H Dec 11 '15 at 9:53

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