There are three key things to keep in mind when writing survey questions: Simplicity, Intelligibility, and Clarity.
Use simple language. Avoid complex words when simpler works will do. Use standard spoken English and commonly used words. Avoid being too familiar and using slang.
Be concrete and specific. Ask people about specific, concrete things, and be aware of terms that have ambiguous meanings. For example, instead of asking people about their use of social media, ask about specific sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A lot of terms, like "family," "crime," "neighborhood," or "cell phone" may mean different things to different people. Be as specific as possible.
Avoid statistical abstractions. People have a hard time thinking through things like proportions, percentages, and rates of change when answering survey questions. Rather than asking someone what proportion of their time is spent in an activity, ask them about specific numbers of hours engaged in multiple activities and do the calculations yourself.
Be careful about memory questions. It is very difficult for people to remember events in the past, especially if what you're asking about is considered by them to be trivial or insignificant. People may not remember why they chose to do one thing instead of another if that decision was made mindlessly or was not considered important. Some things can help with memory questions:
Be aware of hypothetical questions. Hypothetical questions ask someone to imagine something that is not. This can be difficult because you don't know the frame of reference in which someone is operating. Most hypothetical questions are answered based on a respondent's past experience, which we can't always know or understand.
Keeping ranked lists short. When asking participants to rank a list of items, keep the list to only 4 or 5 items, especially in oral interviews. Another way to manage this is to ask participants to select the three most important things from a longer list, or the three least important things.
Avoid double-barreled questions. Always make sure your questions are asking about only one thing. For example, don't ask "Do you use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?" but instead ask each question separately.
Avoid double negatives. When asking whether participants agree or disagree with a statement, make sure the statement is phrased positively. Read through the questions and possible answers out loud to catch anything that might present confusion.