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9 Question types for successful online qualitative research

Conducting successful online qualitative research is far more complex than simply re-using the same survey you’ve known and loved for years. But time is of the essence, resources are stretched, and clients want results yesterday. So, how do you create the most valuable surveys, collect the richest data, and garner meaningful insights, given restrictions on time and resources? The answer is in knowing what types of questions to ask. 

Why Your Questions Matter in Qualitative Data Analysis Software

During the pandemic, many researchers moved to online research as a matter of necessity. For some, nothing beats in-person observation, and with the easing of restrictions, moving back to these methods was a relief. But the truth is, both qual and quant research can be conducted successfully online if done well. In fact, successful online qualitative research can not only yield valuable insights but can be more cost-effective as well as faster and easier to deploy. Qualitative software also symbolizes the democratization of research, helping researchers reach a wider and more diverse audience for a more accurate picture of the audiences in question. 

But qualitative data analysis software, no matter how advanced, is only as effective as the questions posed. As Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, once said, “Knowing the right question is already half the solution.” 

The questions asked in online qualitative research give context and color to people’s experiences, helping researchers to understand the how and why of consumer behavior analytics. Using the right questions means gaining deeper consumer insights data that shapes everything from product features and capabilities to packaging design to marketing messaging, and which advertising platforms to utilize.  The questions asked in online qualitative research also help brands to pick up on emerging market trends, understand competitor behavior, and gauge consumer sentiment around the brand or its products. 

Things to Avoid When Choosing Online Qualitative Questions

Poorly constructed questions can influence the results of a survey with incomplete answers or create an inaccurate picture (using leading questions based on moderator bias, for example). Understanding how to populate a qualitative software platform with questions that encourage candid responses for accurate insights is the key to any successful study. Knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what types of questions to ask. Understanding things to avoid makes building your survey easier and interpreting the results simpler – saving time and resources, and ensuring the client gets what they need. 

Avoid leading or biased questions: Rather than asking, “What did you like about this product?” (which makes the assumption the participant did like the product and prevents them from answering honestly if they did not like it), try to use less biased or leading questions such as, “What did you think about the product?” or “Tell us what you liked or didn’t like about the product.”

Use simple questions that are easy to answer: It can be tempting for moderators to pack a lot into a question, based on where they think the research is going. For example, “Tell us about your favorite laundry detergent, why you prefer this one, and why you choose it over another brand.” These types of multi-layered questions can confuse participants and lead to incomplete or inaccurate answers. Try to keep the questions simple, and if necessary, ask several questions instead of compounding them into one convoluted question. 

Be aware of unconscious behavior: Some 95% of purchasing behavior is made subconsciously or unconsciously, and many shoppers are on autopilot when making a purchase decision. Survey participants may not know why they chose one brand over another and may be tempted to make up an answer to the question. Focusing on experiences and storytelling can overcome this, and paint a more intricate and accurate picture of consumer behavior. 

9 Question Types of Successful Online Qualitative Research

At HatchTank, we use best-in-class technology to deliver results that are not only meaningful to researchers and brands but also ensure that our platform is easy to use, quick to implement, and offers actionable consumer insights data. 

We’ve built the HatchTank platform in a way that allows researchers to do their best work, connecting with consumers to derive a real understanding of their needs, motivations, and behaviors. Our team understands that to achieve success with our qualitative research software, the questions used are just as potent as the technology. Here are the nine types of questions to use for the most successful online qualitative research:

open ends


Open-ended: Both long and short essay-type questions are important to get to the heart of participants’ opinions and allow them to use their own words. Use fill-in-the-blanks, sentence completion, and storytelling questions to connect better with respondents. 

media rich


Media-rich: A picture paints a thousand words, which is why allowing participants to share media helps them tell their stories. Our qualitative research software allows them to upload and render images, videos, and galleries quickly and easily.



Video: With our software, researchers can collect media responses seamlessly from any device. Using videos for your questions allows participants to share their thoughts and opinions with a few simple clicks and encourages more candid and effortless communication than simply typing answers.



Polls: For real-time reporting charts that you can quickly share with stakeholders, text or image polls are invaluable. Instantly available to moderators and client observers, polls are a fast snapshot of consumer behavior.



Sorts: Fully integrated text and photo shorts organize and evaluate concepts, statements, logos, and more. This allows your participants to interact with your stimuli effortlessly for richer results at lightning speed.


screen recording


Screen Recording: With the HatchTank platform, participants can record their computer screens while they browse social media, review a website, or shop online; all while narrating their experience. The screen recording platform integration capability means more personalized participation from your groups, as participants are better able to provide feedback without the pitfalls of recall.



Markup: For more creative engagement from participants, the platform allows them to highlight, draw, drop emoticons, and add text. When participants are having fun and being creative, give more detailed and personalized insights into their world.




Matrix: For more dynamic qualitative research projects, use matrix grids in combination with any other question type within the HatchTank software.




Ranking: In line with our ease-of-use focus, you can ask participants to drag and drop images or text to rank and easily identify popular and well-liked concepts and ideas.



Qualitative Software That Works for You and the Consumer

Qualitative software has come a long way in the last decade, and harnessing the latest available technology helps researchers to conduct consumer behavior analytics that is not only richer, deeper, and more accurate but is infinitely more actionable. 

At HatchTank, we pair the best in technology with unique question types that drive results for researchers and their clients. For participants, our approach means a social networking-like site that is familiar and comfortable, giving them space to share their thoughts and opinions without bias or undue influence. For researchers, our software boasts a powerful and intuitive back end that makes getting to the crux of the collected data simple and fast. The HatchTank platform is easy to use while giving you the freedom to design the type of research projects you need. This flexible, dynamic, and results-driven platform means you can have your project ready to launch (and adapt on the fly) in days rather than weeks – saving you time and money, and delivering the most robust data.

Need expert help for your upcoming research project? Contact us today for a demo of our tech-enabled, human-supported platform!

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