Published April 27, 2021

Explore Strange New Audience Insights With List Questions

6 min read

What you learn from each List question type.

Welcome aboard the Helio starship. We’re glad to have everyone onboard.

Today, we’re going to be making a trip through Helio’s various list questions and how you can get the marketing, design, and product insights.

Now sit back as we prepare for liftoff. Let’s start with our pre-flight check list of list questions.

A Checklist of List Questions

List questions cast a wide net so you can drill down into specifics. You’ll get a spectrum of answers from your audience.

With each progressive question, you’ll dig deeper into your audiences’ needs, wants, values, and preferences. You’ll also get a better grasp of your brand’s perception [link to method/brand-perception].

Let’s list all the list question types

  • Multiple Choice: Surfaces the choices your audience would pick out of a specific group of options.
  • Point Allocation: Reveals the relative difference between prioritized options.
  • MaxDiff: Shows us the extremes of how your audience feels about your list.
  • Card Sort: Builds the mental model your audience uses to categorize your list.
  • Ranking: Provides an ideal order that your audience would rank your list.

List question types can be used by themselves or in a combination of others to get a deeper understanding of how audience perceive your product or service.

Check out this handy dandy matrix of how best to mix-and-match these list question types with your survey goals.

ZURB's list question framework.

Source Link:

Helio in Action: A Hulu Case Study

A ZURB project used Helio with our friends at Hulu. The goal: understand their audience’s behaviors and their categories.

Seemed like a good time to put Helio’s questions types into action.

Here are the categories used from their service:

[Most Interesting Hulu Categories]

  • TV for You
  • Movies for You
  • Keep Watching
  • Hulu Originals
  • Hulu Picks
  • Newly Added TV
  • Newly Added Movies

This kicked off all the various ways Helio’s list-type questions could be used. All the feedback ways were explored to go beyond the old multiple choice standby.

Standby. We’re about to traverse the Helio cosmos to investigate each of these questions types, using Hulu as an example. Keep your hands in the vehicle at all times, and belts securely fastened.

Multiple Choice

The ol’ reliable. Multiple Choice allows you to understand your audience’s choices from a variety of specific options, such as behaviors or impressions in a specific scenario.

Helio Multiple Choice list question.

Multiple Choice gives an audience a list of choices, which revealed a lot about Hulu’s 7 categories. We uncovered the Top 3 categories most important to a media-streaming audience.

The strongest choice out of a list of options becomes very clear, as well as the next two options that take high priority behind it!

ZURB findings for Hulu's categories.

Source Link:

Prioritization isn’t the only way you can use multiple choice.

  • Emotional reception and opinions. Allowing participants to choose from any and all of 8 emotional impressions gives insights into an audience’s negative feelings about your product or service.
  • Gauge what someone may do next. When presenting a scenario to a customer, you’ll want to know what the customer will do next. Giving a list of actions is helpful to understand how your customers are making decisions.
  • Feedback on copy and messaging. Asking a customer to choose a tagline out of a list based on a marketing image is a great way to ensure your message is on the right track.
  • Take participants down separate paths. Multiple Choice questions make a great pair with branching logic at the beginning of a test as a way to get more relevant feedback from certain groups of people in your audience.

Multiple Choice is our original list question in Helio because it is a very popular question type. You’ve probably seen Multiple Choice questions your whole life, which is what makes them great (remember scantrons!). And most audiences are familiar with it, so it avoids makes things easy peasy for them.


MaxDiff gets an understanding of the extremes your audience is experiencing with your product or service.

MaxDiff in Helio.

People find it easy to identify the best and worst parts of a list. MaxDiff leans into this tendency, giving you a look at what those extremes are across an entire audience.

For the Hulu categories, people are eager to dive into newly added movies, but found Hulu picks to be the least exciting category, even though there is some quality content to be had there!

Source Link:

When participants are asked to make a trade-off, you get some interesting information about how a group of likeminded people perceive your list. You’ll easily:

  • Understand the extremes your participants feel. As you can see in our data above, we get a good look at which options on your list fall on the far ends of your spectrum.
  • Discover if there’s a trade-off you need to make. MaxDiff will show you which parts of your list are least important to your audience so you don’t waste valuable production time.
  • Prioritize your “must-have” options. The list options with the least of low priority selections are solid places to start for an MVP (minimum viable product).

MaxDiff uses a single question to gauge preference across multiple areas at once. What makes it great is the way it removes the need for multiple steps in the process of learning a customers’ preference.

Rank Order

Ranking lets you understand how your audience prioritizes options in different situations, from feature concepts to orders of operation.

Rank Questions in Helio.

Ranking items is something we do subconsciously all the time. You can get powerful information about how your participants prioritize a group of ideas with Ranking.

This is different from multiple-choice priority because you get a top-to-bottom look at where each of these list items lives in a person’s priorities, rather than just the strongest three.

Similar to MaxDiff, you not only can understand the extremes of your participants’ feelings towards your list, but also which items would make the cut for an MVP.

Rank order questions results.

Source Link:

Beyond just seeing an ideal rank order of a list, here’s how else Ranking questions can get you big wins:

  • Flow and journey testing. While we prefer to look at what users do rather than what they say, this question type can open up the possibility of seeing the order of operation for tasks — giving you more signals around how people approach a sequence problem.
  • Understand the extremes your participants feel. Discover which items on your list fall on the far ends of a spectrum. Like MaxDiff, this is great for understanding where you might need to make trade-offs!

Card Sort

Card Sort lets you understand how your audience thinks about grouping concepts and where you can match their mental model.

Card sort in Helio.

We’re still constructing Card Sort in orbit of a distant star in our Helio cosmos. Once finished, it’ll be a place where you can form a mental model of your audience through the various categories.

Card sort grouping of categories.
  • Group your list by how it makes participants feel. You can quickly understand positive and negative emotional patterns in your list based on your customers’ perspective.
  • Match the mental model of your customers. Solidify your information architecture by understanding your audience’s ways of thinking about a group of ideas.

Point Allocation

Point Allocation allows you to discover the relative importance of options in your list, so you know just how strongly your audience feels about one idea over another.

Point allocation in Helio.

Rank Order and Point Allocation are similar in that participants are ranking items that they find desirable. The difference: Point Allocation participants are given 100 points to spread across the items on the list.

Assigning points allows you to see the complex feelings your participants have towards the items on your list.

When participants assign value to each item themselves, tons of information is uncovered. Such as how an audience prioritizes a list. Or how strongly they feel about a certain idea because of the greater amount of information they provided.

Point allocation results for Hulu categories.
  • Discover complex information about priorities. Similar to ranking questions, Point Allocation allow you to see the ideal order your audience would prioritize a list in.
  • Learn your participants’ feelings across a wide spectrum. At the same time, you can uncover how strongly those options are prioritized over each other. With Point Allocation, you can see the relative difference in how participants feel between those 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ranked items.

Book Passage For Your Audience’s Next Journey

We’ve come to a landing in this journey through the Helio cosmos. Feel free to move about the cabin. Oh, be careful opening the over head compartments, some items may have shifted during hyperspace.

This journey might be over, but it’s not too late to book passage for another audience journey through Helio’s universe of lists questions. Check out Helio and sign up for a free account.

Build something your users truly want