If you want to gather meaningful data about people's feelings, attitudes, or behavior, the Likert scale is a proven, scientifically valid method for conducting surveys on your website.
However, if you want to ensure the meaningful part of the equation, it's important that you fully understand how the Likert scale works and how to properly implement it on your website.
To help you do just that, we've created the ultimate guide to the Likert scale. In this post, you'll learn:
- What the Likert scale is and the different ways in which you can implement it, including some Likert scale templates and examples.
- The pros and cons of the Likert scale and when it is or isn't a good option for your needs.
- How to implement the Likert scale on your website, including formulating your questions.
- How to analyze Likert scale data and visualize your results.
What is the Likert scale?
The Likert scale is a survey methodology that helps you to understand more about a respondent's feelings, attitudes, or behavior.
Originally invented back in 1932 by its eponymous psychologist founder Rensis Likert, the Likert scale is a common tactic in both scientific and business surveys.
In fact, you've probably taken a survey that employed the Likert scale, even if you didn't know it by that name when you were giving your answers.
The Likert scale works by presenting a simple question or statement that the survey-taker is instructed to react to using various levels of agreement, disagreement, or neutrality.
The original implementation is a 5-point Likert scale where survey-takers are given a statement and then asked to respond by selecting one of five choices:
Neither agree nor disagree
Likert scale examples
The original Likert scale based on agreement has been expanded into a variety of additional uses following the same concept. Sometimes these different variations are called Likert-type scales, but you'll also commonly see them just called Likert scales.
Essentially, Likert-type scales use different criteria than just the 5-point "agreement" choices listed above.
For example, if you're running a survey about customer satisfaction, you might use satisfaction instead of agreement. Here's an example:
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Or, if you're asking for feedback about content or a presentation, you might use helpfulness. Here's another example...
Not at all helpful
Not so helpful
Notice how the example above uses a different type of scale? We'll discuss this difference later on.
Some people even use a Likert scale to examine other concepts, like the frequency that respondents perform a certain activity. A Likert scale example for frequency would be something like:
The 5-point Likert scale examples above are the most common implementation. However, the Likert scale doesn't have to use just 5 options. Two common alternatives are the…
7-point Likert scale
4-point Likert scale
7-point Likert scale
A 7-point Likert scale uses the same basic idea but gives respondents even more choices on both sides of the neutral response. For example:
More or less disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
More or less agree
7-point Likert scales offer more variance, but they can be confusing for respondents because the differences between choices are smaller.
4-point Likert scale
With a 4-point Likert scale, you can remove the neutral middle option to force survey-takers to pick a side. So a 4-point Likert scale might look like this:
Because it removes the ability for respondents to be neutral, the 4-point Likert scale is not as common as the 5-point or 7-point scales.
When should you use the Likert scale?
Again, the Likert scale helps you understand how people feel about a given subject, so there are quite a lot of use cases for the Likert scale.
You can gauge sentiment for…
How customers feel about your latest product.
How helpful people find your customer support.
How your employees feel about certain company policies, like whether or not they're satisfied with your company's vacation policy.
Additionally, the Likert scale is great for letting you focus on a specific topic or aspect of a product.
Because you provide the statement/question and then ask respondents to react, you can gauge how people feel about very specific aspects of a product... or your product in general.
You can also use the Likert scale to understand more about your customers. For example, it's fairly common to use the Likert scale to gauge political sentiments. You could use the data you gather to create a more accurate user persona.
What is the Likert scale not good for?
Because the Likert scale asks respondents to react to a specific question or statement using a set of pre-chosen options, it's not a good option for collecting qualitative data.
For example, the Likert scale can help you understand that people don't find your knowledge base helpful, but it doesn't help you understand why they don't find your knowledge base helpful.
If you want to collect those sort of open-ended responses, you'll either need to use a different format or add open-ended follow-up questions based on a respondent's answers.
Pros and cons of the Likert scale
Helps you quantify feelings about a subject, including how strongly those feelings are held.
Lets you focus on broad topics or specific issues.
Is easy for survey-takers to respond to because they can choose from preset responses.
Can be adapted to a variety of different uses, e.g. customer satisfaction, helpfulness, etc.
Is easy to implement on your website with simple survey tools.
Doesn't tell you "why" people feel how they feel (though a follow-up question can fix this).
The way the scale is set up will often bias responses towards the two extreme options, rather than the options in the middle.
There's no set formula to analyze Likert scale data, whereas something like the Net Promoter Score has a very simple formula and doesn't require any manual analysis.
How to use the Likert scale at your website
Now that you know what the Likert scale is and how it can help you, let's pivot into how you can start using the Likert scale to gather data on your website.
We'll start at the beginning with how to plan and craft your questions and responses. Then, we'll finish out with the actual technical tool you'll need to start surveying visitors to your website.
1. Plan what you want to measure
To get started, think about what exactly it is that you want to measure.
Do you want to learn how shoppers feel about your checkout process? Do you want to figure out how satisfied your employees are? Are you trying to measure how effective your customer service is?
Likert scale surveys work better when they're focused on a specific topic, so try not to cram a bunch of disparate objectives together. You can always run separate surveys about different topics.
Once you figure out the overarching goal for your survey, you can create the questions that survey-takers will respond to.
2. Create the questions/statements that people will respond to
Your Likert-type questions are the questions that users will respond to using the Likert scale answers.
You can either phrase your questions as actual questions or as statements. For example:
"How satisfied were you with your customer service experience today?" with a scale going from "Extremely dissatisfied" to "Extremely satisfied".
"I was satisfied with my customer experience today" with a scale going from "Strongly disagree" to "Strongly agree".
While you'll see both approaches used in Likert scale surveys, questions can often elicit more accurate responses over statements because humans have a propensity to agree with statements more often than not.
Additionally, statements can bias things towards a specific answer. For example, "I was satisfied with my customer experience today" might paint a rosier picture than "I was dissatisfied with my customer experience today".
Beyond choosing how to phrase things, consider the different aspects of your main objective that you want to gather feedback about.
For example, if you're gathering feedback about your customer service, an overarching question might be the "How satisfied were you with your customer service experience today?" question above.
However, you also might be interested in how respondents feel about more specific aspects like:
How friendly was your customer service agent?
How satisfied were you that your problem was fixed?
3. Choose your response scale
Your response scale options are the answers respondents will select from for each question or statement.
There are a few things to pay attention to here...
First, you'll want to choose how many options to offer. Again, the most popular options are the 5-point Likert scale or the 7-point Likert scale. When in doubt, start with the 5-point Likert scale as it's the easiest for your respondents to comprehend.
Another big question here is whether you want bipolar or unipolar responses:
Bipolar - respondents can fall on two sides of the spectrum. E.g. a scale that goes from "rude" to "friendly".
Unipolar - the scale goes from "none" to the maximum. E.g. a scale that goes from "not at all friendly" to "extremely friendly".
The difference is that "not at all friendly" does not necessarily mean "rude". It indicates the "absence of friendliness" rather than the "presence of rudeness".
In general, unipolar scales are preferred because the data is cleaner and it's easier for respondents to think about. So when in doubt, consider using a unipolar scale.
Finally, be careful about the adjectives that you use in your responses. You want to use clear, descriptive words that your audience will understand. You don't get extra points for pulling out a thesaurus!
You also want visitors to understand exactly where each response ranks. For example, if you have two responses like "a little helpful" and "somewhat helpful", it can be hard for respondents to understand how those two options relate.
A more clear example would be something like "somewhat helpful" and "extremely helpful". With this structure, it's much easier for respondents to understand how the two relate and which one fits their situation.
4. Collect survey data on your website
Once you have your questions and response scale, the last step is to implement your survey and start collecting data.
To display a Likert scale survey on your website, you can use Getsitecontrol survey form builder. It allows you to create any type of survey including multi-page forms with open-ended questions and email capture fields.
Here is how to build a Likert-type scale in Getsitecontrol in four steps:
Step 1. Add Getsitecontrol to your website
To display a survey form to your visitors, you need to create a Getsitecontrol account and connect it to your website. It’s an easy task and requires no coding knowledge. If you’re on WordPress, simply install the dedicated plugin from the WordPress directory. For the rest of website platforms, you’ll need to copy and paste a tiny code snippet right before the
</body> tag. Check out the instructions here for the details.
Step 2. Create a Likert-type survey form
Once in the dashboard, use the Create widget button and select the I want to conduct survey option from the dropdown menu in the upper left corner. Decide whether you want the survey to appear as a modal popup, a slide-in, or a tab at the bottom of the page. Go through the gallery to select the template that meets your goals. You’ll be able to edit the design and the content on the next screen.
Step 3. Adjust the survey appearance
Getsitecontrol allows you to modify almost every detail of a survey form including colors, dimensions, and images. Start with typing your question and the responses on the Content tab.
Here you can also design a submission success page that will be displayed once respondents finish the survey. In the dashboard, it’s indicated as page 2. On the success page, you may want to thank them for participating, ask for comments, or suggest subscribing. Just select a corresponding field from the menu and adjust the copy.
The Actions tab settings define what happens after a respondent clicks on the button. Your options are to open the next page of a survey, to redirect them to another URL, or to close the widget.
Step 4. Decide where it should be displayed
You most probably don’t want to have your Likert scale survey on every page of the website. To select the pages where it should be displayed, go to the Targeting tab.
The feature-set of the Targeting tab also allows you to create conditions under which the survey will pop up. For instance, you may want to display it when a visitor spends X amount of time on a page, scrolls downs X% of the content, or decides to leave. If you only want to survey select audience - say, based on their location or device - Getsitecontrol allows that as well.
This is it. Don’t forget to save the widget and activate in on your website.
Once you gather responses, you can export the data for analysis. Speaking of...
How to analyze Likert scale data
As you learned in the cons section, there's no set method for how to analyze Likert scale data, and the exact analysis method that you choose depends on your objectives, data, and the context of your questions.
If you're not sure where to begin, you can start by calculating the percentage responses for each option. For example, here is the way Getsitecontrol survey report would display a simple analysis of a Likert question:
Or, another common visualization technique for Likert scales is something called a diverging stacked bar chart, which you can create in Excel:
As you get into more advanced analysis, you can also turn to other tools to help you analyze the data. For example, Jason Bryer created a popular R package to help analyze and visualize Likert-based data.
Get started with the Likert scale today
The Likert scale is a proven survey tactic to help you gain insight into how people feel about a topic.
The most common implementation is the 5-point Likert scale, but you'll also find 7-point, 4-point, 9-point, and other Likert scales.
If you want to start collecting survey data with the Likert scale, you'll want to carefully…
Determine your objective
Craft your questions/statements
Create a response scale, keeping in mind the bipolar/unipolar distinction
From there, you can use the Getsitecontrol survey forms to implement the Likert scale questions on your website. And once you collect data, you can analyze it with Excel or more heavy-duty tools like R.
Create your Likert survey today and start better understanding your customers.