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October 28, 2008

The Elements of a Great Web Analytics Dashboard

By Alex Cohen

If you work in an agency or the client side, you know how important it is to communicate your project's results.  As a team lead for paid search, I'm always evaluating, presenting and defending data and reports.  As a web analyst, I've been through the pain of setting them up.  Here are a few of my tips for a great dashboard.

The Elements of a Great Dashboard

  • KpidashboardSummary - Put the most relevant KPIs at the top in the biggest font.  If you only had 1 minute to communicate to an executive, what would you say?  That should be the set of summary KPIs.
  • Summary Trend - A single data point rarely makes sense.  Instead, you have to couch it in context to help answer the key question "Is that good or bad?"  There's a few easy options:
    • Month over Month changes
    • Year over Year changes
    • Comparison vs. other channels or sites
  • KPI Trend - You probably can't, and shouldn't, stuff all of your KPIs into the summary area.  Instead, break out your data into meaningful chunks underneath the summary.  Use the same trending that makes sense in the summary at this segment level.
  • Granularity - Different audiences care about different things.  There is no one-size-fits-all dashboard.  Match the depth of your metrics to your audience, which generally goes something like this:

  • Graphs - In every presentation I've seen or done, the visuals always get the most attention.  We are visual people and well designed graphs can tell stories more quickly to a wider audience than raw data.  You'll likely have to shop around ideas and sell them.  Let the visuals help.
  • Analysis & Action - This one should really be a no brainer, but data without insight is pointless.  It's the interpretation *combined* with how I act on it that matters.  "What does that mean and what should I do about it?"  Connect the dots or it's just paper

So, what works for you?  For Search Marketing Gurus, this is Alex Cohen of Digital Alex.


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Monitoring is always a basis for action. You cannot plan unless you know a lot. So a million thanks to credible web analytics tools.

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