Reports are crucial for any measurement, however, if set up improperly, they can confuse and even misguide readers. In short, mistakes in the report setup might not make sense to those who need it the most. Nevertheless, well-thought-out reports can quickly deliver insights, as well as discover patterns in your survey data.
To help you bring data to new levels, we have compiled 10 things to keep in mind when designing Enalyzer reports to maximize the return on your reports. But first things first…
The quality of your report is defined by your survey. To achieve a quality report, you have to start with a survey that has a clear purpose in the form of goals and objectives, formulate unbiased and clear questions, and have a response rate that is representative of your target audience. Great, now that it is out of the way, let’s move on to our 10 tips for building better reports!
1. Share your report for a higher response rate
One of the main goals for any survey is to get a high response rate and sharing your report with respondents is the best way to reach this goal. When you share your survey with your respondents, it’s a good idea to share your report as well. Sharing survey results is one of the best ways to increase participation. For example, for B2B customer surveys, account managers can share the results with their customers, since they already have a relationship, and it can push customers to leave their feedback. As for employee surveys, you can nudge your employees to leave their feedback by showing the results divided by department, this can create a small competition which unquestionably will lead to a higher response rate.
2. Your survey sets the tone
Your survey’s audience and frequency have a direct influence on your report setup, anonymity, distribution, and maintenance. Let’s take Customer vs. Employee surveys as an example.
Readers: The first thing that is already decided by your survey is the report audience, aka the readers. For customer surveys, the account managers are the ones that need insights to improve and better understand the customer experience, whereas, for employee surveys that responsibility falls under HR and/or managers.
Filters: The readers define the filter setup of your reports. Employee reports operate with closed filters so that department managers can only access their feedback and no other department results. On the other hand, customer reports can have open filters that can help you filter down to very specific customer groups and view specific results.
Anonymity: We recommend that employee surveys have an anonymity level of 5 completed responses to protect employee anonymity. In other words, data will not be shown unless there are at least 5 completed responses, this will make it impossible for managers to pin-point individual employees, as well as ensure confidentiality. If employees know their feedback will be handled carefully, they will be more likely to provide honest feedback.
3. Define your readers
Reports are meant to be presented to someone; they have an end-user which means you need to have their needs in mind when creating reports. Once you have your readers in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are they used to working with data in general?
- How do they normally interact with data?
- How detailed should the data be presented?
- How much guidance should the reader have?
If your readers are used to working with data, they can easily navigate detailed reports. However, if the opposite is true, you might want to opt for focusing on averages to show key findings and metrics. Some readers need more guidance than others to get them through a report. This can take the form of texts summarizing key results and highlights, color intervals in charts to illustrate areas of improvement, and more.
The point is to think about who will be reading the report, their preferences, and their needs. Once you have this, the report setup will be a breeze.
4. Be consistent
The purpose of any report is to provide insight and for this to be done effectively, the information needs to be presented consistently. Readers will understand the information, discuss it, and make effective decisions based on what they see. This repetitive and consistent approach allows readers to move beyond understanding the data and begin interacting with the information.
What do we mean by a repetitive approach?
The first image is a mix of charts and color themes that looks messy and confusing. Readers will have to put an extra effort into understanding what’s being presented to them. However, if we look at the second image, we can see a pattern. Overall themes are illustrated with gauges, and sub-questions are presented with average bars, as well as stacked bars to show the distribution of responses and a color theme that clearly illustrates whether the responses are positive or negative.
In other words, the repetitive approach needs to follow a certain logic when it comes to your chart types, the terminology used, color themes, and the report layout.
5. Keep a structured layout
This tip goes hand in hand with the repetitive approach. Structure your report with sections to increase readability. Report sections should also be structured not only in terms of content, as we went through previously but also columns and layout.
6. Group and compare data with data series
Data series are for those who want to venture into complex reporting. A data series is a grouping of data based on one or more filters. You can plot multiple data series in a chart for comparison or benchmarking purposes.
Benchmarks give you an easy way to compare your results across departments, countries, years, and other variables. It a way of providing your results with context and understanding where your organization stands. With the Enalyzer data series function, you create the benchmarks, giving you full control over the entire process.
7. Filter out partial responses
Some include partial responses, which means respondents that did not finish the survey. However, over at Enalyzer, we recommend that you only work with completed responses.
Partial responses are incompatible with quota sampling and weighting because the base fluctuates across all questions. Moreover, it can be confusing to readers when the total number of responses changes across the report.
Finally, you never really know why a respondent left a survey. While it could be that they ran out of time, it could also be that the respondents wanted to review the survey before answering, which means you risk ending up with random data. This scenario invalidates and corrupts your data. Why take the risk?
Excluding partial respondents in Enalyzer reports is simple, just add a closed filter based on response status and select “completed”.
8. Guide the readers
Humans can’t process too much data at a time without getting overwhelmed. Getting overwhelmed leads to decision fatigue which makes it harder for your readers to think strategically. Consequently, you should help your readers by highlighting certain key metrics on the front page, especially if your report consists of multiple sections and charts.
Top/Bottom charts are brilliant for guiding readers and directing focus on what matters. Top/Bottom charts visualize the strongest and weakest data points which allow the reader to understand what is working and/or what needs improvement. You can supplement this by asking respondents which themes are most important to them, if any of them are part of the “bottom”, then you know where to direct reader focus.
9. Scale with report templates
Most of the time, you’ll be creating different reports for different readers, for example, a report for direct managers can look different from a report for top management. For that reason, we recommend that you create a report template that you can scale and save a huge amount of time.
We recommend you pilot test your report before you scale it up. A pilot test could involve sending it to key personnel and/or people part of your reader target audience and get feedback before you scale your report template into the full deliverables.
What’s even better is that with Enalyzer you can share report templates with your entire organization. When you share surveys as templates, you can choose to include reports as well. This will save your colleagues tons of time.
10. Practice makes perfect
As with many things, building reports is something you learn by doing. Remember that context is key, so ask yourself the following:
- What type of survey?
- Who are the readers?
- How are you going to distribute it?
The best way to start is to play around and get the first section ready, after that you can use our edit in bulk function to get through the remaining sections quickly.