When an individual makes a choice that is influenced by many factors, each of these factors has different priorities in the decision-making process. to determine how they were (or are) prioritized, we use a ranking question. 

A ranking question is mostly used by market researchers to determine which aspect of a product is most loved by customers. It is used during the pre and post-production phase for market research.

Asides from market research, Ranking questions are used  to carry out random surveys to determine what is most important to respondents among a series of options.

What is a Ranking Question?

A ranking question is a type of survey question that asks respondents to compare a list of items with each other and arrange them in order of preference. It is used by market researchers to understand the order of importance of items from multiple items.

Boasting as one of the most used survey question types by market researchers, it is integral to product development. Before an organization launches a new product, they need to know what their target market prioritizes the most.

Also, when creating an upgrade to an existing product, they need to know what customers want in an upgrade.

What is the Ranking Scale?

A ranking scale is a close-ended scale that allows respondents to evaluate multiple row items in relation to one column item or a question in a ranking survey and then rank the row items. It is the scale used by market researchers to ask ranking questions.

On a ranking scale, the question may be in terms of product features, needs, wants, etc. It can be used for both online and offline surveys.

For an existing product, a ranking scale gives a more detailed answer to whether customers like the product in question or not.


Types of Ranking Questions

  • Scale Ranking

The scale ranking type asks respondents to rank a set of items against each other. It is based on the concept of multiple-choice questions.

However, unlike the basic multiple-question, it allows you to compare multiple questions on a technically single scale — even though it looks different. 

There are different types of scale ranking questions, namely; dropdown scale, choice option scale, star scale, hear scale, and emoji scale. They vary in terms of the kind of scale used in creating the scale ranking question.

  • Drop Down Scale

In this scale ranking type, the ranking is done using numbers, where 1 is the Lowest  on the scale. As shown in the image below, respondents can rank the options by selecting a number from the dropdown.

This scale is mostly used by market researchers before launching a product. It will help influence the production process.


In the figure above, the most influential factor when purchasing a car is the price, followed by popularity, then the quality, and so on. It is important to note that each choice option cannot be selected twice in the dropdown scale.

  • Choice Option Scale

This scale ranking type uses numbers and choice options (radio buttons and checkboxes) as the ranking scale. Each of the choice options is labeled with numbers. As shown in the image below, respondents can rank the options by selecting the radio buttons. 


In this case, a value is assigned to each choice option. This value is what will be used to calculate the rank of each brand.

Choice options are used for a market research before and after product launch. 

  • Star Scale 

This scale ranking type uses star ratings as the ranking scale. As shown in the image below, respondents can rank the options by selecting the stars.

In this case, the highest number of checked stars is what determines the difference. Also, the higher the number of stars the higher its priority.


5-star is prioritized more than 4star, 3 stars, and so on. Market researchers mostly use star scale after product launch to gain feedback from customers.

  • Heart Scale 

This scale ranking type uses heart ratings as the ranking scale. As shown in the image below, respondents can rank the options by selecting the hearts.

In this case, the highest number of the checked heart is what determines the rank. Also, the higher the number of stars the higher its priority.


3-hearts is prioritized more than 2, 1, and so on. Similar to the star scale, market researchers use this scale post-product launch to get feedback from consumers. 

  • Emoji Scale 

This scale ranking type uses emojis as the ranking scale. As shown in the image below, respondents can rank the options by selecting the emoji that best describes how they feel about particular features.


In this case, the extremely happy emoji is the highest on the scale, while the extremely sad emoji is the lowest on the scale. This scale is also mostly used by market researchers after product launch to determine what consumers like about a product. 

  • Constant Sum

A constant sum question allows respondents to enter numerical values for each variable that is being considered. However, these values must add up to a pre-specified total.

As the respondent makes each entry, it is summed up and shown to the respondent. It is mostly used when asking financial, or percentage related questions.

  • Drag and drop

In this type of ranking questions, respondents can drag and drop the answer choices to re-order them as they choose. It gives complete freedom to the respondent to order the answer options to best suit their preference.

Drag and drop are the most interactive of all the question types used by market researchers. 

How to Create a Ranking Questionnaire with Formplus

Follow the following simple steps to create a ranking questionnaire using Formplus:

Step 1- Create a Questionnaire

You can create a Formplus questionnaire in one of the following ways:

Use an Existing Template

Get a head start by using a template designed by a team of market research experts. To do this, go to Templates and choose from any of the available templates.

Start From Scratch

To create a new survey from scratch on Formplus, go to your  Dashboard, then click on the Create new form button. 

, Alternatively, go to Forms in the top menu, then click on the Create Form button.

Step 2 – Add Ranking Questions

To better illustrate this step, we will be creating the dropdown ranking example shown above.

  • Go to Media & Structure in the left sidebar.
  • Click on Section Header, then the Add Row button.


  • Go to Choice Options, then click on Single Select.

  • Create 3 duplicates of the Single Select form field and place them in the same row.
  • Edit the form fields as shown below.

  • Check Assign value to each option to define the weight of each rank. The values should be assigned in reverse order.
  • Click on Save

Step 3 – Beautify your Survey

  • Click on the Save button in the top-right corner to Save your ranking question.
  • This will take you to the Customise page where you can beautify your survey and make it more attractive to respondents.

Step 4 – Share and start receiving responses

Now that you have beautified your survey, the next step is to start receiving responses. With Formplus, you have various sharing options to choose from. This includes sharing via email, customized links, social media, etc.

Why Use Formplus to Create Ranking Question Surveys? 

  • Logic and Calculation

When asking a financial, budget, or percentage related question, you can easily use the logic and calculation features. These features make it easy for you to use the constant sum ranking question to carry out your research survey.

You don’t have to stress yourself with complex mathematical computations behind a constant sum. Just select the right form field, then the rest is history.

To create a constant sum question in Formplus, all you have to do is add the right input form field (e.g. Table field), then go to Add Calculation to add the calculation you want.

  • Data Interpretation

Once you have collected the required response from respondents, Formplus helps you interpret it. The Analytics and Reports section gives a summary of all the responses and makes data interpretation straight forward.

For instance, you can get the average score of all the responses given for each feature. This will help you determine which feature is the most preferred by respondents.

This will, therefore, ease the market research process and helps to easily attain a conclusion before completing the product development process.

  • Ranking Question Features

Create a standard ranking question by adding all the features required in your research survey. Formplus has numerous form fields that are required of a ranking question.

It doesn’t matter which type of ranking question you are working on, Formplus has a form field that is perfect for each one of them. 

  • Geolocation

When performing market research for a product that is distributed across multiple locations, your customer preference may vary for each of these locations. Hence, you need to know the location of each of your respondents before concluding  your market research.

Formplus has a feature that automatically detects a respondent’s location, as well as the closest physical address using the Google Web Service. You can use the Formplus Geolocation feature instead of creating a different ranking question survey for each location to arrive at the right conclusion.  

  • Data Storage

Rather than spending money on multiple types of research, you can subsequently reuse the data collected from particular research. Formplus stores your data into secure cloud storage that can be accessed at any time from any of the devices where you are logged in.

If you have an existing cloud storage account on Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive, you can also seamlessly transfer your data to these platforms. You can also store your data in your device’s local storage.

What is the Difference Between Rating and Ranking Questions? 

  • Definition

A rating question is a question used to ask respondents to compare different items using a common scale. On the other hand, a ranking question asks you to compare a list of variables with one another. 

  • Scale

A rating scale is a closed-ended scale that allows respondents to evaluate multiple variables on a single scale. On the other hand, a ranking scale is a close-ended scale that allows respondents to evaluate multiple row items in relation to one column item or a question in a ranking survey and then rank the row items.

  • Rating questions allows us to measure the strength of options while ranking questions measure the priority of options. That is, with ranking questions, respondents choose one opinion over the other. On the other hand, rating questions give every option a rating, but the strength of each rating is what is accessed.

Ranking Question Analysis & Interpretation 

Analyzing a ranking question is not as straightforward as performing simple numerical analysis. It uses average ranking analysis, of which it involves two stages — assigning a value to each rank and finding the average of the responses for  their assigned values.

What is Average Ranking?

Usually used to analyze ranking questions, it involves determining which answer choice is most preferred overall by finding the average of all the responses with respect to the values assigned to each rank. The answer choice with the largest average ranking is the most preferred.

Given that::

w = weight of the ranked position

r = response count for each answer choice

Hence, rw = inriwi=r1w1+r2w2 +..+rnwn where n is the total number of responses

Total Response Weight

To get the total response count, we will multiply the weight of the ranked position by the response count for each answer choice. This will be done for every response that was received.

The weight of the ranked positions is applied in reverse. That is, the respondent’s most preferred choice (which they rank as number 1) has the largest weight, and their least preferred choice (which they rank in the last position) has the smallest weight. 

These weights are predefined and cannot be changed. For example, if a Ranking question has 3 answer choices, the weights are assigned as follows:

The number 1 choice has a weight of 3

The number 2 choice has a weight of 2

The number 3 choice has a weight of 1

Weights are applied in this manner to ensure clarity when the data is presented on a char. This way, there will be no confusion as to which data is preferred.

The average ranking is now calculated using the following formula:

Average ranking =r1w1+r2w2 +..+rnwnTotal response received

After finding the average ranking for each choice option, the next step is interpretation. To determine the highest-ranked choice option, we will compare the average ranking together and choose the one with the greatest score.

Our analysis can be visualized using a bar chart.

Advantages of Ranking Question 

  • It helps to generate advanced consumer insights

This type of question helps to gather more insight into the profile of each respondent. Beyond knowing that a customer likes, dislikes, or feels neutral about a product, you get to discover the specific things a customer likes about the product. 

Also, the fact that there is a value tied to each choice option makes it easier to derive a statistical analysis of a certain subject. It is especially useful in making better business decisions.

  • Eliminating Response Biases

Most times when respondents are asked to rate a particular product, they just assign a random number to the rating because they are not sure. But with the ranking question, they provide realistic responses. This is possible because they get to arrange each factor according to how they really feel about them.

  • Ease of Use

The instructions are very simple and easy to understand. The respondents are usually comfortable and sometimes find it fun ranking the different options in terms of personal preference. It heightens the sense of belonging.

Disadvantages of Ranking Question

  • It is not easy to interpret. The analysis and interpretation of a ranking question are not as straightforward as that of other questions.
  • It forces respondents to place importance on one item over another.


Ranking questions are no doubt, one of the most important aspects of carrying out a market research survey. It helps market researchers and organizations determine which aspect of their product customers like the most.

By simply listing the factors that are known to influence a customer’s decision, they can ask them to rank these factors in order of preference. This helps organizations to create products that are loved by customers.

It allows survey respondents to compare different items to each other by placing them in order of how they score (or rank) at a specific aspect, such as design, cost, functionality, importance. In most cases, the most important or preferred item ranked first or on top of the list.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 12 min read


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