In market research, visualization of qualitative findings is a bit trickier than quantitative findings. With a quantitative market research methodology such as an online survey, you know from the start that you can share charts and tables to display the data. Much of this process can be automated, as well.
With qualitative methodologies like focus groups and in-depth interviews, the resulting data often consists of transcripts, moderator notes, and activity sheets. Presenting these ideas typically takes a higher degree of creative thought.
I was able to pick up several excellent tips for how to layout and format qualitative findings in a report in the Quirk's article, "Break through the clutter." The author discusses the challenge of mining through the pages upon pages of information while simultaneously presenting results to the client in a concise way.
Here are the top 4 tips I gathered about qualitative reporting from reading the article.
Take these steps to ensure that your qualitative report stands out from the competition and sends the right message.
1. Establish the insights first
Before trying to neatly present findings in a report, make sure you have an idea of what you want to say. The report can get pretty messy and be at risk of missing a theme.
The article suggests organizing your thoughts in more of a draft form to start. Use this time to focus all of your energy on identifying the main points from the data. In my experience, it can be overwhelming to attempt to sort out both the content and presentation at the same time.
Once you have the themes and findings developed, it will become easier to shift your mindset to the visuals. Having a good idea of the amount of content will allow you to build the report with more confidence.
2. Don't wait to share the main takeaways
A growing trend, for better or worse, is a shortening attention span in people. For those of us in market research, this means that pacing and positioning are key elements in a qualitative report.
A main point in the article states that you can't afford to put the conclusions and recommendations at the end of a report. Clients are busy and don't all necessarily want to sift through every page for every little detail.
An executive summary well-positioned in the front of a report will often meet the needs of a client or at least for an initial review. This brief yet informative section will drive home the key takeaways so that there is no doubt the objectives were addressed.
3. Use graphics and media to support a story
The article reminds us that many people process information better in a visual format. This is especially important for text-heavy qualitative reports.
The presentation of findings should go beyond the routine block paragraphs or list of bullets. Use the unique characteristics of the study display graphics like a process or a timeline when possible. These kinds of formats will make the information easier to digest for the reader and allow you to emphasize key findings.
At Drive Research, we are big advocates of using infographics to share the results of a study. An infographic displays the most important insights in a fun and simple manner. A benefit here is having access to the same insights without having to even open the report.
Other useful tools to help tell the story include shapes, images, and videos. Arrows are good for drawing attention from one area of a page to another. Framing text in a square or circle can help it stand out to the reader, too. Supporting media is a great addition to an ethnography report. Here participants of the study can almost directly speak to the reader.
4. Give consideration to spacing and color
Layout on a page in a report can often be an afterthought. However, it pays off to spend even a little time and effort on the spacing of content.
The Quirk's article suggests that the findings will have a stronger impact on the reader if they are given room to breathe on a page. Content that is packed together too tightly might make important information get lost in the mix.
Another important choice for the report is the use of colors. The obvious benefit of color is that it makes a report more aesthetically pleasing. When integrated properly, color schemes can also elevate main points and provide a sense of sophistication.
Just be sure to not overdo it with the amount of colors on a page. A rainbow of colors on the same slide will make it difficult for the reader to know where they should look.
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