Survey Software Report Dashboards
The vast majority of survey software offers only rudimentary reporting. Some don’t even offer that. The ones that do mostly just tell you what percentage of people picked each answer choice and maybe let you do some basic crosstabs.
A few sophisticated programs, such as The Survey System, offer serious reporting tools, either online or on the desktop. The most flexible offer both. The most capable tools let you set up online dashboards for your clients. These can show live results while a survey is active, as well as showing final results. The most useful dashboards show the key results on their homepage, while letting the user also create custom reports.
The survey tool should offer both tables and charts and should let you customize the content and appearance of both. It should also let you specify different choices for different questions. For example, a multiple choice question might best be represented by a pie chart, while a numeric question showing the means of several sub questions might best be represented by a bar or column chart. As another example, in many cases the data might be most usefully presented showing answer choices in popularity order, while in other cases the choices have a natural order and should be presented in that order, regardless of how popular particular choices were.
In addition to basic crosstabs, sophisticated survey software should let you use banners. Banners are like two or more crosstabs side-by-side. For example you could use them to see in one table how men and women, different age groups and different income groups answered your questions. Seeing all those breakdowns at once is much more efficient than looking at three different tables to see how those different groups answered.
Another good feature to offer is significance testing. This can help you determine whether differences between different subgroups in your sample are likely to represent differences between those groups in the general population.
When offering a dashboard for your clients to view the results of their project, your tool should let people select their own crosstabs and also use filters. Filters limit which people are included in a particular table or chart. A user might, for example, wish to see a report that only shows the answers from people in a particular geographic area. Or to use filter on top of filter, a user might wish to see a report that only shows the answers given by women 25-34 who visited a particular clinic in the past year.
Using software that includes a highly customizable dashboard will give you a competitive advantage over researchers that can’t offer one to their clients.