How to Write a Survey for Feedback about your Minimum Viable Product

Gary Bartos
4 min readJun 10, 2021


People don’t like to take surveys. Yikes! A rough start to the subject.

As briefly as I can, I’ll tell you how I’ve reached more people than I have teeth by writing short, snappy surveys.

As a startup founder, I’m not expecting or hoping to reach thousands or even hundreds of people. For a startup’s minimum viable product (MVP), testers may number in the dozens, or perhaps just what you can count on two hands.

Even if your testers are just a handful or two in number, minimize the time and effort it takes for them to provide feedback. Minimize the effort you need to analyze that feedback. One-on-one chats yield unexpected insights, and can be pivotal in finding product/market fit. But if you follow development cycles for lean startups you likely won’t have the time to talk to all of your testers individually during every cycle. Surveys are an alternative.

But how do you learn how to write a survey to get the feedback you need?

Do survey writers have to be ambidextrous data wizards? Why did no one tell me this?!?

(Photo by Lukas from Pexels)

Read The Survey Playbook by Matt Champagne

Read Champagne’s The Survey Playbook and follow the author’s recommendations. That’s it. That’s how you learn to write effective surveys. The few pointers I provide below are not a shortcut to learning, but a teaser.

On most subjects, you can bootstrap yourself by finding one short, great book and then following its recommendations. For survey writing that one short, great book is The Survey Playbook.

The cover of The Survey Playbook by Matthew Champagne. The book is available as a Kindle edition. The book has relatively few graphics, and the author makes his points clearly in the text.
This is the book. Read this book right here. Save yourself some time and just get the book.

For $4 you can get the Kindle edition. That $4 book is worth far more to you than $4. Reading further in this article may cost $2 of your time. Go look at the author’s website and then get the book. Here’s the link again:

To paraphrase Seneca: “Don’t read too many books! Go Konmari on your bookshelf and keep only a few joy-sparking books.”

Teaser: A Few Pointers from The Survey Playbook

Keep your survey short. Treat the survey like a first date: don’t overload your survey taker with too much information or too many questions. Less is more.

Tell the survey taker how long the survey takes. Be precise! Don’t write “The survey will take about 10 to 15 minutes.” That’s too long if true, and just a lazy guesstimate anyway. Beta test your survey. Measure how long the survey takes on average, and then tell survey takers. “In our tests, survey takers needed two and half minutes on average to complete the three questions in this survey.” Indicate how much you value survey takers’ time by telling them how little time of theirs you want.

If you ask survey takers to provide a rating on a numeric scale such as 0 to 5, or perhaps 0 to 10, provide a concise description for every value on the rating scale. You and the survey taker will both understand what a rating of 4 means. You also reduce cognitive load. The survey taker doesn’t puzzle over what the scale should represent, but instead picks the description that best reflects their experience. You get a numeric value to crunch numbers. Score!

About the Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score is a widely used metric. The single question asked: “How likely are you to recommend our product/company/service to someone else? Please rate from 0 to 10.”

Provide a rating of 9 or 10 and you’re a “Promoter.” For a rating of 0 to 6 you’re a “Detractor.”

So . . . now what?

If you’re only polling a small number of testers about an MVP, the Net Promoter Score isn’t telling you anything meaningful and actionable. You want to know what to change.

When a product reaches later stages in the development process, consider gathering data to yield a Net Promoter Score. The NPS is a standard metric and the funders you pitch may expect it.

What Survey Tool Should I Use?

SurveyMonkey is simple and popular. The website provides clear guidance to make surveys accessible — something you should always do.

We’re Done Here

Read The Survey Playbook by Matthew Champagne.

Try SurveyMonkey.

Folks who want to improve their survey writing should already be convinced to check out The Survey Playbook. Maybe you’re still here expecting more from this post? Well, there’s no more.

Ferris Bueller peaks out at the viewer during the end credits. “You’re still here?” he asks. “It’s over. Go home.” Before there were Marvel movies with end credits people were meant to wait for, there was Ferris Bueller telling you to leave the theater. Ha!
“You’re still here? It’s over! Go read The Survey Playbook.”



Gary Bartos

Founder of Echobatix, developing assistive technology for the blind.