How to use slider questions in a survey

Jan 14, 2019 | Improve your surveys

Slider questions enables respondents to place themselves on a continuous scale, rather than being forced into categories or checking boxes.  It can be especially used for data analysis, consider this example before l discuss it in details:

“A Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) is a measurement instrument that tries to measure a characteristic or attitude. The characteristics or attitude is believed to range across a continuum of values and cannot easily be directly measured. E.g the amount of pain that a patient feels ranges across a continuum from none to an extreme amount of pain. From the patient’s perspective this spectrum appears continuous. Their pain does not take discrete jumps, as a categorization of none, mild, moderate and severe would suggest. It was to capture this idea of an underlying continuum that the VAS was devised.” (Crighton, 2001)

VAS is used by medical professionals worldwide. It is more evident than before when it comes to category in patients with pain or discomfort which is always relative. Slider questions work in the same way, but you are judging perceptions and attitudes instead of pain.

Slider questions, are the best to create a Visual Analogue Scale to capture the real attitudes and perceptions of the respondents. How awesome are you? Pretty awesome, when you think about it, actually. This is particularly true if you use these perceptions with complementary questions to optimize their usefulness to you.

How to use slider question?


Slider questions are visually more pleasing than the checkbox style continuum questions (Likert Scale).  This increases your chances that survey participants will respond to your questions.

It is important that you keep the scale uniform throughout your survey to avoid confusion and ensure accurate results. This is also essential if the perceptions of respondents are to be judged during data analysis. By permitting the respondents to place themselves in continuum, you can get an absolute answer, than choosing between category like “very much”. During data analysis there’re more accurate averages of where people place themselves, rather than having a general category statistic average.

It is better compliment slider questions with other types of questions to avoid being too tedious for the respondents.

Carefully select the wording for the extremes of your spectrum when using the verbal continuum. If one side says ‘Very often’ then then opposite side should probably not say ‘Apples’. Make sure these extremes are mutually meaningful and are sufficiently remote for  respondent to feel the real choice in the continuum.


Take into account a variety of options:


Instead of wording at both extremes, your slider question can have a numerical value using a scale from 0 to 10, 1 to 3, 0 to 100, etc.There is a possibility to use emoticons at the end of your spectrum to limit biases created by misinterpretations or extremes misunderstanding :).

You can easily adjust the starting position slider’s cursor. The middle of your spectrum is not always neutral.  For example, if you have a numbered slider from 0 to 10 then the center number is 5, which is not neutral.  By giving it a value, this starting point could affect the way in which people respond to your question. To improve the quality of your results ensure that the starting point of the cursor is at zero. You can choose whether or not to display the actual numerical position of the cursor along the continuum to the respondent. In cases like 0 to 100, is it important to know the survey-taker choose 79 and not 80?.


The difference between check-box style continuum questions and slider type questions:


Skipped answers will be unregistered if the respondent does not touch the slider and continues to the next question in the case of slider question. Check-box style continuum questions doesn’t always  permit to re-check  an answer once checked. Checking the  wrong box by mistake can be a problem. The check-box type ranking questions permits respondents to just click down the neutral column, or click randomly, creating a confusion grid of squares on the page.  With slider questions it’s impossible click down the column, making it more accurate.


How to analyse the results?


Sliders enables you see “his or her average”  relative perception during data analysis. It is useful to take relativity into account in your evaluation, as some people tend to responds harshly while others responds positively.

For example: Assessment of a salary/work conditions evaluation type survey sent to all employees.  The overall average for salary satisfaction was 4 out of 10 (“the” average).  This would normally show a low overall satisfaction. One of the respondents survey answers is  marked 4 for salary (“her” average), she has consistently marked 1 or 2 other’s questions. This is enlightening as her overall assessment of working conditions are poor, but she feels relatively positive for her salary. You may have a group of people responding relatively harshly with a fair amount of consistency. It is important that you take relativity of your result during data analysis seriously.

Slider questions are a multifarious questions type that improves your survey results, and refines your data analysis when used smartly. Take advantage of them.

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