How You Help: 5 Ways We Use Your Community Survey Responses
It’s no secret that, at Faunalytics, we love data. Being in the realm of social science research makes this a given in some ways, but our love of data doesn’t simply stop when our original studies stop. We use data to enhance virtually every aspect of what we do, and since we do our work with advocates at the forefront of our minds, it’s important for us to know what’s at the forefront of your mind. Yes, that’s right: you!
For years now, we’ve been conducting an annual community survey of people who use our site, ranging from veteran users to people who may have stumbled upon us just yesterday. It’s important for us to capture this range because, while we know that many users return to our site on a regular basis — monthly, weekly, or even daily — there is a sizeable portion of our audience who encounter our work anew every day, and who have to figure out how to navigate our resources without the benefit of previous experience.
Of course, you don’t have to tell us that you’re most-likely “surveyed out.” We know how you feel! From customer service surveys appended to virtually every receipt you get, to the endless pop-ups on websites, to the surveys that sneak their way into your snail mail and email inboxes, companies everywhere are asking for your opinion. Like us, you may even feel inured to the point of surveys at all; how many times have you completed a survey, even though you’re fairly certain that your responses will simply end up on a computer somewhere, not being read or taken into account at all?
This is one of the ways that Faunalytics is different. Not only do we use all of your responses, but they are also a cornerstone of a larger process we engage in to understand how our work is helping you to help animals. If you need convincing to take our community survey, read on as we make our case for a few minutes of your time.
1. We use your responses to guide changes to the structure and organization of our site.
Through the 2018 edition of the survey, we discovered that a chunk of our user base found the way our site was organized to be lacking: we received comments from some people that the site was difficult to navigate and that the way our content was organized wasn’t clear to everyone. In response, we redesigned and reorganized the site and, with heavy user-testing, implemented a series of changes throughout the latter half of 2018 and into 2019 that helped improve the flow of how a user interacts with the site. This was reflected in the responses from 2019, which rated these aspects higher than the year before. We continue to refine how we present our content, and are always streamlining our approach whenever possible, based on your feedback.
2. We use your responses to help identify issues we don’t realize are issues.
Related to the above point, reading our survey responses is an exercise in education for us: we get to learn about issues with our work that we don’t even realize are there. For example, responses in 2018 and 2019 helped us identify some issues with the search functionality on our site that we weren’t aware of before. The reason is simple: as the administrators of the site, we’re able to search for, access, and edit our resources in a back-end environment that is organized differently than the site on the surface. Our users’ experience of searching on the surface site, however, needed improvement and with your feedback, we were able to make necessary changes. Another example was that users let us know that the way we credit our study summaries needed to be more clear. With your feedback, we made this more granular, and now we more clearly list the authors of the original study, the author of the summary, and whether the original study was internally done by Faunalytics or externally done by others.
3. We use your responses to know what types of resources you’d like to see more of.
In 2018, we got great feedback from our users that let us know there was an increasing demand for well-summarized research that is easy to understand, especially at a quick glance. We also heard that our users had more desire for visual resources like videos and infographics. In response, we increased the output of our highly-visual Fundamentals series, and began adding more graphs and visuals to our original studies, blog posts, and library summaries. Finally, we started a more concerted effort to summarize our key studies in the form of short videos, giving you the key points you need to know in less than five minutes.
4. We use your responses to get to know you!
Though virtually every website out there uses some kind of analytics to understand its users, the data that’s gathered by services like Google Analytics is relatively limited: it can tell us the general geographic location of our users, how much time you spend on the site, and so on. However, it doesn’t tell us about your interests, your concerns, the research questions you have, and whether you understand our mission in the same way we do! Our survey lets us know, for example, that while there is a lot of overlap between who uses our site and who follows us on social media, there are a substantial number of people who only know us from one channel or another. What’s more, through our open-ended questions, we’ve learned a lot of extra information about our users that helps to guide us as we move forward. Traditionally, these open-ended questions have been a great way for us to learn about the research issues our users care most about, which help us in the early stages of research brainstorming for our internal projects.
5. We use your responses as part of a larger impact measurement model.
Being a data-driven organization, measuring our impact has been important to us since the beginning. More recently, Faunalytics has been adding to and enhancing our impact measurement model. While it’s generally an internal process, it includes all of our programs and resources, outreach activities, and communications channels. We want to make sure that every activity we’re engaged in not only stretches the value of each dollar we receive, but that it helps to achieve positive change for animals. Your feedback is essential for us to know how we’re doing and what we can do to improve. If you think there are particular areas where we’re doing a great job, the survey is a great place to let us know that, too!
In addition to all of the above, there’s one important caveat: the more people respond, the more clearly we’re able to see our strengths and weaknesses. And, the more people complete the survey, the more detailed our response can be!
We hope the above gets you energized to give your feedback and raise your virtual voice!