Whether you take surveys for fun, in hopes of getting a prize, or just for the satisfaction of helping to increase the amount of knowledge in the world, chances are good that you have completed a survey in the recent past. The data from that survey was crunched and packaged and published someplace, and it has probably helped someone out. Using surveys can help you produce useful information at your website, too.
Where can you get useful survey data?
There are plenty of informative surveys out there — and lots of misinformation, too. How can you make sure you’re not misleading your readers?
Get your survey information from reliable sources. Here are some of our favorites:
- Pew Research Center
- The U.S. Census Bureau
- Kaiser Family Foundation
These are certainly not the only reliable sources. Use your critical thinking skills to evaluate surveys from less well-known sources. Look at the raw data. Note the numbers in the sample, the way the questions were written, and any potential bias.
Or conduct your own survey. Make sure you have a reasonable sample size (your three closest friends won’t do it), make sure your questions are written so they don’t affect the answers, and have someone else check for bias before you send out your survey.
We’ve used WordPress survey plugins and Facebook’s survey function to get quick ideas about people’s opinions. Most polls of this kind have small numbers of responses and do not include a broad range of people. The example below is pretty typical.
We can (and did) use a quick poll like this to confirm our sense of how people might respond to a particular Supreme Court judgement, but we can’t use it to announce that 6% of Americans will shop less online.
Another Facebook survey has more responses, but once again it only allows us to confirm something we were pretty sure about. If the answers had been 60/40, we could not have drawn any conclusion from this data.
We also use Survey Monkey. This is a much more robust tool. You can construct your survey and embed it in a web page or social media post, or send out a link so people can take it at the Survey Monkey website.
Survey Monkey is used for serious data collection. However, you should know when you see Survey Monkey results that free users of the tools can only collect 100 responses. 100 responses is usually not a big enough sample size to be meaningful, especially in a self-selected survey. 1,000 is much better.
Analyze the data
Sometimes numbers speak for themselves, but usually some analysis improves the value. Wiley says that the skills gap increased in 2019 by 12%. What does that mean? It certainly means something different for people who are worrying about robots taking over jobs in America, for educators wanting to prepare students to be employable when they graduate, and for employers planning their training programs.
Consider what the data means to your website visitors and how it can help them.
Often, one particular answer in a survey grabs the headlines. If you’re using a publicly shared survey, check to see whether some of the questions that weren’t picked up by major news outlets might have value for your readers.
Create an infographic
A simple graphic or a complex infographic — either can help make the information clear and appealing to your readers.
Use a graphic to help your web visitors understand the main data easily. Then make sure you have plenty of text for the search engines. Without that essential step, people looking for your information won’t find it.
If you’re excited about using surveys at your website, but this all sounds like a lot of trouble, contact us and we can help.