Descriptive Survey Design


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The main aim of a research is to understand the research problem. The researcher wants answers to the questions – why, what, how, where, when, etc. Descriptive Research Design helps a researcher gain a deeper knowledge of the research problem. 

Descriptive Research is a quantitative research methodology used to unveil in-depth knowledge on a phenomenon. Researchers from various fields of work use Descriptive Research to accurately define the population, market, or situation. 

A Descriptive Survey Research is an approach of Descriptive Research that blends quantitative and qualitative data to provide you with relevant and accurate information. A time-efficient research method, Descriptive Survey Design engages the people who are at the center of the research objective.

What is a Descriptive Research?

In descriptive research, the research investigates more than one variable. However, when you conduct this type of research you cannot manipulate the variables present, unlike Experimental Research. 

Descriptive research can only be conducted via, Survey, Observation, and Case Study. As a researcher, you can only observe and collect valid & reliable responses, and analyze them. This research method, like market research, is, therefore, best used to understand concepts that can help you grow your business. Understanding the ‘bits and pieces’ of your market, target population, branding, offerings, and many more aspects in depth can strengthen and accelerate your business growth.

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What are the 3 Descriptive Survey Design Methods?


The descriptive research design involves quantitative research to gain valuable insight into objectives. It may also be used for the purpose of quantitative research. There are three ways Descriptive Research Design is implemented to conduct market research. 

Survey Design 

A Survey is built to gather vast data from a heterogeneous audience. The Survey Design helps to fulfill the aim of analyzing the frequencies and identifying patterns in the survey responses. 

Survey Designs are used for the following purpose in market research: 

  • Understanding the demographic of a market or population (country-wise or region-wise)
  • Examining audiences’ opinion on Company’s offering
  • Gauging customer satisfaction with the company offering and customer support

Observational Descriptive Method

Often used in the science field – Psychology, Social or/ and Market Research – Observation Research is used to understand people’s behavior in real-life scenarios/situations. 

You don’t have to rely on the respondent’s honest or accurate opinion. The data is gathered by simply monitoring the audience as they engage with the subject of the research. 

For example, observing customers as they visit your restaurant and try out your new pastry. 

The goal of observational research is to observe and gauge people without disrupting their natural behavior. The observation of a physical phenomenon helps to describe the physical phenomena under observation before any hypothesis is developed. 

Case Study Descriptive Research Design

A case Study is a formal methodology for research. It is conducted when a researcher needs exclusive knowledge of the subject matter. A case study helps understand the characteristics of a specific subject in great detail. 

A case study is conducted not for the purpose of collecting general facts. But, it is used to discover interesting facts that can reveal something complex or new about the subject matter of the research. The outcome of a Case Study is relevant to that particular research subject. It cannot be generalized to other similar studies. 

What is Descriptive Survey Design?


Descriptive survey research design is the most common and popular methodology used in market research to gather informative data. A survey is the most forward way to collect customer insight about your business offerings and other aspects. 

Descriptive Survey Design involves questions relevant to the subject of the research. The survey questions are then distributed to the audience in hopes of receiving their honest response. 

A survey is a flexible approach to collecting data. You can use surveys to collect data once, Cross-sectional Studies, or you can collect samples over a long period of time, Longitudinal Studies. 

It is used by various fields for various purposes;

Social research: to investigate different social groups about their experience

Market research: to gather customer opinion about a brand’s product, services, and the brand itself

Health research: to gather patient’s data about treatments and systems and also patient’s opinions about healthcare services

Politics: gauging public opinion about any policy or a political group

Psychology: gather preference, behavioral, and personality traits of people

Types of Descriptive Survey Designs

For a better understanding of the survey design, you can classify it based on the kind of approach used when you conduct Descriptive Survey Research.

Descriptive-normative Surveys: In this type of survey design, the resulting data is compared with the norm. For example, if you conduct a company-wide employee skill evaluation, then the result of the skill test should be compared with the norm of the role taken by the employee. 

Descriptive status: is an approach that helps you gain an understanding of the real-life situation. For example, tell you if there is any relationship between the income of an employee and their performance. 

You will begin by conducting a survey to gather information about the income of your employees and then compare it with their performance evaluation. This way you will understand if high income leads to better performance and low income leads to poor performance or vice versa.

Correlative Surveys: are used to identify whether the relationship between two variables is positive, neutral, or negative. 

Voxco’s Descriptive Research guide helps uncover the how, when, what, and where questions in a research problem

When to use a Descriptive Survey Design?

Descriptive Survey Designs are used for fulfilling the following purpose of market research. Mostly used to test a hypothesis or identify characteristics, descriptive survey design allows a researcher to gain knowledge to make informed decisions and thus help grow business. 

Describe a specific group: 

You can use a descriptive survey design to define the profile of a particular customer type. For example, as a makeup and cosmetics company, you can use the descriptive survey to define the characteristics of different buyers and segment them based on their profile – Beauty Expert, Beauty Addict, New Customers, and Traditional Customers. 

To uncover customer’s perception about brand or product: 

This type of research design can be used to gain an understanding of how your customers view or perceive the products and services you offer, or what they think is the x-factor of your products. For example, you can survey your customers about the best or worst features of your product, the color scheme, the packaging, and other noticeable factors of your product. 

To understand customer’s behavior: 

You may use the survey to determine the type of customer that exhibits a particular behavior. For example, a health drink company may want to survey how many of their customers also purchase tea. This way they can segment their customers for better targeting. 

To make predictions: 

Surveying customers can give you a huge volume of insight into their shopping behavior or pattern; also let you know the factors that influence their purchase decision. Surveys can tell you that customers tend to shop more in the month of November and December with Christmas and New Year around the corner. As a result, companies can use this survey insight to predict their sales and make arrangements based to cope with the rush of customers. 

How to design a survey for Descriptive Survey Research?

Research of any kind should have a clear objective. The researcher as well should be well aware of the research problem. The ultimate aim of conducting any research is to obtain valuable, valid, and accurate information at the end. 

In the case of Descriptive Survey Research, the rules remain the same. You need to define the objective of the research that can lead you to collect actionable insight. The data you gather must give you the opportunity to resolve the problem and improve from thereon. 

 Descriptive Survey Research



Best suited

Methods of distribution

Describe or examine characteristics of phenomena

Used to test the objective – structured, specific, and preplanned

Gain detailed information on particularly narrow subjects – ‘Who’, ‘Where’, ‘Why’, etc

Online (email, social media), Mail, Telephone, In-person interview

Steps involved in Descriptive Survey Design (infographic)

  • Define Objective of the Research
  • Establish who will participate
  • Decide how to distribute the Survey
  • Analyze survey result
  • Report the survey

For descriptive survey research, the objective is the most essential part of the whole research process

  • The objectives help you keep track of your entire research. 
  • The objective reveals what you are aiming to discover.
  • It helps to design questions that are relevant to the purpose of the research. 

It helps you gather data that can help make an informed decision on the problems that need fixing in your company (product development, customer segment, marketing campaign, etc.)

  • Let’s say you want to collect feedback about your e-commerce website. You can separate your objectives based on-site navigation, quality of product category, aesthetic, ease of ordering, and payment method. Defining the objective separately will make it easy to create survey questions that will provide you relevant information on a relevant topic. 

The next important part of Descriptive Survey Research is to ensure that your results are accurate. To limit non-response and response bias in your survey design make sure you have a proper sample size. When defining participants in your survey design control the confidence level and margin of error by having an appropriate size of respondents. 

Ways to Conduct Descriptive Survey Research


Online Surveys: 

  • Access to a wide audience with common characteristics
  • Administer a large no. of respondents
  • Respondents can complete the survey at their convenience
  • Surveys can be anonymous
  • Real-time data analyses

Mail Surveys:

  • Read targeted audience
  • Convenient to respond
  • Easy to administer the participation

Telephone Survey:

  • Can be conducted from an office
  • Participants can schedule the time 

In-person Interview:

  • Higher response rate
  • In-depth discussion
  • A large volume of data
  • Easy to administer participants

Sample Research Questions of Descriptive Survey Design

  • Do customers prefer our Product X over Product Y?
  • What is the impact of digital advertising on Gen Y, Gen Z, and Millennial customers?
  • What is the distinctive trait of Brand A?
  • What are the most popular channels of communication for elder customers?
  • What is the difference in the shopping behavior of customers from Country X and Country Y?

Define respondents for your descriptive research.

Use Voxco Audience to build a right sample for your survey.

What are the Characteristics of Descriptive Survey Design?

  • Gather Quantitative Data: Descriptive Survey Research is used to gather quantitative data. The information collected is quantifiable in nature which eases the process to statistically analyze them and use it to develop strategies. 
  • Provides Qualitative Data: It can also provide you with qualitative information to describe the research problem in depth. The qualitative aspect of descriptive survey design is explanatory in characteristics. This helps you to gain exclusive and all-inclusive data on the objective.
  • No Variable Control or Manipulation: This type of research design does not include controlling variables unlike in Experimental Design. This allows you to gather honest responses from customers. The flow of the survey is natural. 
  • Data for Further Research: The data you gather from a Descriptive Survey can be analyzed and used for other related issues or research purposes. It can also help you identify the next line of research. Moreover, the data can help you conduct further surveys on specific subjects. 

Examples of Descriptive Survey Design

1.  Let’s take an example of an e-commerce clothing brand. The brand wants to introduce workout clothes on their website. They want to know what kind of workout clothes are preferred by their customers. 

  • The brand can upload a survey on their website asking the customers to answer a few questions about their preferred style. The brand can also send emails with surveys or upload a survey on their website for better engagement and response rate. 

2.  A café wants to add Japanese dessert to its food menu. So they decided to conduct a survey to learn the choice of flavor or taste their customers like and prefer. 

  • The café can create a QR code for their survey and ask the customers to scan the code to respond. Or, they can encourage their customers to fill a pen-paper survey form. 

Why use Voxco for your Descriptive Research Design?

Voxco is a global leader in building and conducting sophisticated online, face-to-face, and phone surveys. Voxco Survey Software offers an array of features to build interactive surveys and deploy them in seconds.

Voxco Online survey tools are built by experts. The software enables you to ask the right questions to the right audience and helps you gain accurate insight. 

Easy survey scripting: No programming experience required, the scripting tool is easy for virtually any survey designer to use, with an intuitive drag-and-drop WYSIWYG interface.

Omnichannel surveys: Conduct Online, Offline (Field Surveys), or Phone (CATI and IVR) surveys from one single channel

Advanced Analytical Suite: Voxco’s statistical analysis can be applied to any type of data. The automatic application can also provide real-time results so that you have relevant data. 

Advanced Survey Logic:  With powerful survey logic, survey branching, and survey piping, researchers can create personalized surveys at scale. 

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Voxco offers the best online & offline survey research tools!

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