Charts are one of the most important parts of a survey report because they're the easiest way to look at survey results and understand what's going on. Next time you're working on a report, keep these survey report best practices in mind:
• Don't use 3-D charts. When you tilt a chart, while it may look more visually appealing, it's skewing the graphical representation of the data. Look at the two graphs below, can you order the size of the sections?
In the 3-D chart, just like in the 2-D chart, the purple and blue sections represent 20% of the pie. Do they look equal? What about the teal and red sections, are they equal? Yes. It's hard to see that though. The purpose of charts are to make it easy to see survey responses, don't make it harder by tilting the y-axis.
• Start axis at zero. Always start your axes at zero. Just because you're smart enough to realize you changed it, not everyone else looking at the survey report will be.
• Label your chart. This may seem like a no-brainer, but always remember to label your chart including axes and scales. You'd be surprised how often labels are left out, leaving report readers having to comb through the report looking for what the chart is.
• Colors. Charts and graphs brighten up reports, make sure to use colors that contrast enough that it's easy to understand where one category ends and another begins.
• Even though you're providing the reader with a graphical representation of the collected data, you still need to surround the graphics with explanations. Why is the graph significant? What does it prove? What suggestions do you suggest based on these findings?
Many survey software companies provide built in survey analysis software, but sometimes you may still have situations where you need to analyze your survey results with an additional survey analysis tool. No matter what tool you use, whether its the presentation and reports section of your web survey software tool or a report builder in another survey analysis software, keep these survey report tips in mind.