From Trivia Nut To Quizmaster
15th July 2020
If you're reading this then you’ve probably already read our opening post,
Let's Get Quizzical, in which I paint a picture of the current
quizzing landscape and meander through a few of the motivations behind Brainy Cow. In this post
(and upcoming posts), I'll be honing in on the art of quiz-making, attempting to describe the processes
we go through when creating new quizzes, and reflecting on what we need to do more (or less) of in future
as we look to grow our website.
I've been playing quizzes all my life, but it was only when I sat down to write my own that the complexities
of this seemingly simple process began to appear. Like everything, the deeper you dive, the more you discover,
and the solution to one problem invariably creates a series of new ones, to be broken down, mulled over and
mastered. Things like:- which quiz categories should we include? What is the minimum number of different quiz
formats needed to get the site up and running? How might we grade our quizzes, both in terms of their difficulty
level and popularity? And, how can we write informative, thought-provoking questions that both challenge and
support the user? Most importantly though, how do we create a user experience that is - to make use of our own
Many of these questions remain unanswered as we take our first steps along this path, but
one of the first things I learned when we started this project, was the importance of
variation and balance. First and foremost, I identified the need to create content that
appeals to individuals across the intellectual spectrum; to ensure that there is a range of
difficulty on the page - whether that be across the bank of quizzes in a category or within a
single quiz itself. User knowledge is varied and expectations broad. It's our job as aspiring
quizmasters to ensure that we offer challenge and encouragement in equal measure, so
as not to deter the novice quizzer nor bore the established expert.
Secondly, it was apparent from the very beginning that offering a suitably diverse and well-
organised range of categories is an absolute necessity. Having an entire quiz site full of
questions relating to the national anthems of African nations or the intricacies of
underwater basket weaving, might suit a tiny minority but certainly won't draw in the
masses. Similarly, dividing quizzes into categories that are too small - too niche - would
only serve to busy the homepage and deny users the luxury of simple signposts to the
content they’ll enjoy. Variety and choice are key, and so too is familiarity. Our category
names are simple, recognisable and fairly broad, such that if you want a quiz on
US Presidents or
key events of the 1940’s, you'll find them, (non-surprisingly) in
History... but if you're looking to test your
Stranger Things knowledge,
Movies & Television is where it's at.
Thirdly, and inextricably linked to the first two, is the balance of form - the need for a
variety of quiz types to ensure high engagement levels and accessibility for all users.
Writing quizzes that require different things from the user is part and parcel of Brainy
Cow’s core aims of education and entertainment. Whilst, presently our content is limited to
simple question and answer quizzes and multiple choice, a broadening of our offer to
include match ups, picture quizzes, animations, lists and many more, remains high on the
list of priorities...
Next time, I'll be looking in detail at the multiple choice format and how selecting an
answer, rather than generating one, might not always be quite as simple as it appears!
Until then, happy quizzing...