Quantitative vs Qualitative Research Questions in Online Surveys

What is the difference between Quantitative vs Qualitative Research Questions?

Quantitative vs Qualitative research is a topic that gets the most amount of questions asked, including:

What’s the difference?
When should I use either one?
What are the pros and cons?


Qualitative research, or questions designed to uncover insights about people’s thoughts and opinions, is non-statistical in nature, and produces findings that were not determined in advance. That is, it is open-ended, and allows the respondent to provide textual descriptions of their responses to a given question.

  • Effective at capturing unknown issues, assessing feelings, and uncovering attitudes
  • Can be difficult to quantify or analyze
  • Users can fill in any response they choose

Qualitative questions have other considerations; remember that mobile users prefer to tap or scroll, versus typing or pinching and zooming. Therefore, uploading a clear image is critical to asking for a free-form response to understand their opinion.

Also note that when asking for a participant’s opinion, you may not get a long answer, as open-ended questions give the user the ability to respond with answers that are unrelated, too short, or don’t provide adequate information to draw a conclusion – such as the answer “N/A”.


Quantitative research, measures the number of times that an audience responds to a question, given pre-determined multiple answer choices, or ratings scales. It provides quantifiable data from a sample population that allows for statistical analysis that can result in general conclusions – the greatest and least number of responses, the average, etc.

Quantitative research, in which the participant selects from a given pool of answers, can be followed up by qualitative research, to understand why the respondent chose a specific answer.


So how do you design the right research questions in a mobile survey?

If you are conducting a mobile survey, there are advantages such as the size of audience that can be reached, cost effectiveness, and response rates – since most people carry their mobile phones on them.

When designing a mobile survey, you must consider that the respondents have limited screen space before they have to scroll. So don’t overload the participant with too many answer choices in a quantitative question.

You also want to limit the number of questions you ask the participant. Pollfish already injects age and gender questions, so you will not want to ask more than 15 questions for a max of 17 total. Beyond that users tend to lose interest, “speed through” the survey or drop off completely.


Think about your audience and the mobile survey they will be taking – anything you can do to make it easier for the user to respond to your survey in a manner that doesn’t interrupt their flow, or ability to respond in a timely manner that solicits genuine responses.

When considering quantitative vs qualitative research in your mobile survey design, remember that quantitative questions are easier to respond to, answers are more easily analyzed, and the number of qualitative questions must be limited to keep users honest and engaged.