• How to Make a Quiz Online Just Like BuzzFeed

    Connor Child · January 6, 2015


    Even without doing a scientific study, it’s safe to say that people love three things on the internet:

    • cat videos
    • celebrities behaving badly
    • BuzzFeed quizzes

    Although I can’t help you with the first two, I have a few insights about the third.

    Yes, quizzes are wildly popular, and BuzzFeed has proven to be particularly effective at harnessing their virality. When Jonah Peretti started BuzzFeed in 2006, the company’s aim was to pinpoint exactly what makes content go viral. Naturally, his team ended up figuring out that people love quizzes; hence, we now have viral juggernauts like What State Do You Actually Belong In? (41.5 million views and counting) and Which Disney Princess Are You?

    Now, with Qzzr, you can make a quiz online just like BuzzFeed, and embed it anywhere. You’re all set to make a quiz telling people what Nintendo character they are, what TV household they should be living in, or which Goonie they are.  But before you jump in and start making your quizzes, here are a few tips that will help you learn how to quiz like the masters at BuzzFeed.

    1. Come up with a fun angle

    No one would ever — or should ever — confuse a BuzzFeed quiz with a true scientific assessment. People are typically looking for a fun distraction with the goal of learning something interesting about themselves. So although it takes some forethought and creativity to develop a fun, shareable quiz, you needn’t worry about creating something that will yield a full scientific diagnosis.

    Instead, think of ways to be entertaining. What is a compelling pop culture topic that will capture people’s attention? (BuzzFeed example: Which Jennifer Lawrence Movie Character Are You?) What can you bring up from the past that will stoke your audience’s collective nostalgia? (BuzzFeed example: How Well Do You Know The Lyrics To These ‘90s Rap Songs?) Or can you just think of a way to make people laugh? (BuzzFeed example: Is Chris Kirkpatrick Your One True Soulmate?)

    1. Come up with your results before writing your quiz

    The most memorable part of your quiz will be the result that people get. Once they find out which Taylor Swift they are, for example, that is what they will share with their friends. So place your primary focus on coming up with enduring results with catchy descriptions. Then, you can go to work on coming up with questions that will guide people to the result that is best for them.

    As you are writing your questions, you will have the option to map each answer option to one or more of your results. Consequently, it helps to know what those results are. That way, you will have an idea of what differentiates each of them, and this will help you come up with questions and answers for each result.

    1. Don’t blow it with your result descriptions

    Think of your result description as a parting gift that you’re giving to the guests at your party. It’s not enough to tell them which Star Wars character they are — they need to know why they are Yoda.

    In almost every case, it’s best to write your outcome descriptions in a way that compliments the people that take your quiz. Tell them that they’re awesome and to expect big things, and make them feel special for answering your questions in the manner that they did. In many cases, they might have been expecting a different result, so try to make them feel good about the one they got.

    For example, KISSmetrics, an analytics platform, ran a quiz titled, “Which Tech Entrepreneur Are You?” When I took the quiz, I got Steve Jobs, and the outcome description just warmed my heart:

    steve jobs result

    Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. This Which Nintendo Character Are You? quiz by Dorkly offered outright insulting descriptions:


    This strategy worked for Dorkly because their descriptions were well-written and humorous, and the tone connected with their audience. Thanks to a heavy dosage of social shares, this quiz has been taken more than 220,000 times.

    1. Don’t write questions that suck

    Now that you know what results people can get when they take your quiz, you’re ready to write out your questions. Think about what differentiates each of your results when you make a quiz online, and let that guide you to create questions that will do a decent job of assessing your audience.

    So what separates each of your results? Perhaps one result could be for a person who is driven and ambitious, and another one is for someone who is comfortable and easygoing. Maybe each of them have different diets, interests, or lifestyles.

    Then, try to think of creative ways to ask your questions. Maybe, for example, you want to find out about people’s activity level. You could ask something boring like, “What is your activity level?” The answer options would be, “High,” “Medium,” and “Low.” A better approach would be to say something like, “When you want to get somewhere, you _________.” The answer options could be, “run,” “crawl,” and “lay there and hope to be magically transported.”

    1. Spice up your quizzes with images and animated gifs

    Don’t bore your audience with lines and lines of text. You don’t need images on every question, but it certainly helps to use them when you can.

    For instance, compare this question:

    good espn country question

    …to this one:

    bad espn country question

    Both questions have the exact same wording, but they make for an entirely different quiz-taking process. The first option had a background image and had pictures of each geographic region. It’s much more visually appealing and results in a pleasant, memorable quiz-taking experience for your audience.

    And if a picture can say a thousand words, an animated gif can speak volumes. If you’re trying to use a picture that communicates clumsiness, you could throw in a picture of someone that appears to be falling down, or you could give them the full show with a gif:


    1. Combine all these elements to create a quiz that everyone loves

    Creating a dynamite quiz is every bit as fun as taking one (if not more so). Let’s run through a short example, and we will incorporate each of the elements we have learned so far.

    Let’s do a quiz about Chuck Norris “facts” — i.e. those absurdly hyperbolic statements about everyone’s favorite bearded martial artist.  We’ll title it, “Which Chuck Norris Fact Is Most True About You?”

    Now that we’ve got a topic and a title, the next step is to write out the outcomes. Here are the four facts that I’m running with:

    • Chuck Norris doesn’t cheat death; he defeats it fair and square
    • Chuck Norris can judge a book by its cover
    • Chuck Norris can ice skate in unfrozen water
    • Actions speak louder than words, unless they’re Chuck Norris’ words

    Then, for each one, I need to write a short description to give a bit more information. This is your time to shine; people will often decide whether or not to share their result on social media based on the quality of the result description. If you’re witty, insightful, and able to tell people something interesting about themselves, you’ve got a winner. If you’re boring and cliched, you’ll be forgotten faster than a piece of motel art.

    So here is my attempt at writing out the result description for “Chuck Norris doesn’t cheat death. He defeats it fair and square”:

    When life tries to kick you in the teeth, you counter with a knife-hand down block and a punch to the sternum. You don’t just embrace life’s obstacles; you delight in destroying them. You’re always ready for any challenge that comes your way.

    Once I’ve added a background image and photos for each result description, I’m ready to start writing my questions.

    norris results

    As you’re writing your questions, think about what distinguishes the results from each other. For example, “Chuck Norris doesn’t cheat death; he defeats it fair and square” could be a statement about someone’s ability to overcome challenges, and “Chuck Norris can judge a book by its cover” is an apt description for someone with great intuitiveness.

    So a good question could be, “Which of these songs could be the theme song for your life?” And here are our answer options:

    • Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. This will map to “doesn’t cheat death” because it’s all about thriving in the face of adversity
    • You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. We’ll match this one with “judge a book by its cover” because it’s about seeing through the fake image a person is trying to convey.
    • Waterfalls by TLC, and this one will go to “ice skate in unfrozen water”. Not only is there the “water” similarities, but the song is a great metaphor for going headstrong into something without considering the consequences.
    • Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Obviously, given it’s lyrical brilliance, this one will go to “Actions speak louder than words, unless they’re Chuck Norris’ words”.

    norris question

    In this question, we ended up having four answer options which mapped to each of the four results. But you don’t need to worry about it working out like this. Not every question in this quiz will need to have four answer options. You can have one answer option map to more than one result, or you can have an answer option that maps to none of the results.

    As I think about what other questions I could add, I will think about other distinguishing traits for each of the results: attitude, demeanor, preferences, dislikes, etc. Then, when people complete the quiz, they will feel sufficiently assessed and will have a stronger connection to the result they end up with.

    share norris

    Anything else?

    So, do you feel sufficiently prepared to go out and make a BuzzFeed quiz? Is there anything else that wasn’t covered here? Please let me know in the comments!

    Also, feel free to download our “Tips for creating outcome quizzes” guide. It’s a handy cheatsheet for making amazing quizzes.

    • Harold

      This is pretty cool; those quizzes are always showing up on my Facebook feed; I’m excited to go make some myself. Any other ideas for how to come up with good questions?

      • http://qzzr.com Connor Child

        Hey Harold, good question. Sometimes it’s hard to think of enough good questions. After you write out your results, I recommend writing out at least three distinct traits about each of them, and then, it starts to be more clear what differentiates each of the results. That should give you a good foundation to come up with questions to steer people into one of your results.
        By the way, we just published another blog post about how to overcome writer’s block when creating a quiz: http://blog.qzzr.com/writers-block-sucks-3-tips-overcome-help-create-quizzes/

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    • weames

      Very good walk through. Examples help more than anything else you could have written.

      • creative_destruction

        You’re right – examples are almost always the best way to explain things. Thanks for the feedback.

    • http://www.lakenormanmike.com Mike Toste

      Great tips for creating quizzes. One thing I was hoping to see was what platform to use to make it work. Any suggestions? My website http://www.lakenormanmike.com runs on wordpress so a plugin or something that can help me would be fantastic!

      • http://www.boombox.com Coy Whittier

        Awesome stuff Mike. So this is going to vary based on the quiz platform you use, but for ours, at least, it’s just a simple embed – like you would with a YouTube video. We also have a WordPress plugin, if that’s easier for you. Happy to give more info if you’d like :)

        • http://www.lakenormanmike.com Mike Toste

          Thanks Coy, working on a quiz at the moment – I realized after commenting that Boombox is the company behind qzzr. :) I think the embedding method is the way for me.

        • Paul Martinez

          Hey Coy, I work with Mike and for whatever reason Disqus has marked his account as spam even though none of his comments are spam, do you mind approving the original comment by Mike? We are in the process of putting together some quizzes for our blog and are looking at your solution as the most viable. I appreciate your help.

          • http://www.boombox.com Coy Whittier

            Paul – the only comments I see from Mike show up now. Are there others I’m missing?

            • http://www.lakenormanmike.com Mike Toste

              It was fixed Coy, Thanks! Feel free to deleted these :)

            • http://www.boombox.com Coy Whittier

              Will do – thanks Mike!