MaxDiff (short for maximum difference, also described as best-worst scaling) is a research technique for measuring the relative importance of each item in a list or category. MaxDiff has become a common and popular technique in online surveys; most popular online survey platforms now include a question type formatted in a “typical” MaxDiff layout:
In MaxDiff research, people are shown a series of screens similar to the above, comparing different combinations of items. That data is then analyzed in a regression model to determine the relative importance of items across the full set. (After all, you don’t want to look at a list of 40 items all at once, do you?)
Unfortunately, most survey software platforms don’t do the more difficult task of determining which items should be compared against each other. Your data can be horribly skewed if you use an “unbalanced” model (one where the distribution of items isn’t well balanced).
The Datagame MaxDiff Rankifier will take care of all the math for you, but if you’d prefer to manually build your own MaxDiff questions with a traditional question format, this Excel template can help get you started. (NOTE: This template does not analyze your collected data; that task is left to the reader.)