Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples

DifferentI'm excited about the power of a well created dashboard. It is a thing of beauty and a source of immense joy.

Oh, and of course a critical element for any company's path to glory.

Dashboards are every where, we will look at a lot of them in this post and they are all digital. So let's start with one that you might not typically bump into.

Here's a great dashboard, for the Museum of Art… take a minute to ponder it…

indianapolis museam of art dashboard

Isn't it pretty awesome?

It provides a brief snapshot of the entire business. From 3rd grader attendance to new artworks on view to expenses to (hurray!) digital performance. Comprehensive, yet not too much. It also handy explanations of the metrics, with key context where necessary.

I'm sure the analyst in you (like me!) is yearning for some segmentation, or at least for some comparisons of current performance to past performance for context. Or something else.

But kill that thought for a moment and marvel at what it actually as and how good it is. Just imagine how useful it would be in a non-analytical environment like a museum. Think of how easily it would raise the right questions, which, when answered, would lead to more informed decisions.

In our world of digital analytics often these things are called dashboards…

social media dashboard

I had to shrink the size to make it fit the available screen, but even if you saw it at full glorious resolution, I'm sure you'll very quickly come to the conclusion that this is just a data puke. Yes, it does summarize data from many reports into one. But think of what's on it for a moment. Can you understand anything except the cursory superficial information? And now, pull back. Go three levels, or five, inside the organization to the Senior Leadership, would they get anything out of this? I do mean, *anything*?

This is our challenge. Somewhere along the way we've lost our way. Dashboards are no longer thoughtfully processed analysis of data relevant to business goals with an included summary of recommended actions. They are data pukes. And data pukes are not dashboards. They are data pukes.

And I don't want you to think that the problem is that the above is a dashboard in a digital analytics tool and has just two graphs. Here's another example:

dashboard ex2

Those of you who've read Web Analytics 2.0 will recognize that this dashboard is built off the example I share in the CD that comes with the book. So, I inspired one one above. Still a data puke. Prettier for sure (copy the excel version that's on the CD, it's prettier). Look it has things I recommend: trended segments (OMG, OMG!) and sparklines (with YOY and MOM comparisons!). That helps for sure. But because the dashboard above is missing a critical column on the right (you'll find it on the CD version), this dashboard won't move the senior-most leaders in the company into data influenced actions.

Actions. The thing that we don't think hard enough about.

The Core Problem: The Failure of Just Summarizing Performance.

I humbly believe the challenge is that in a world of too much data, with lots more on the way, there is a deep desire amongst executives to get "summarize data," to get "just a snapshot," or to get the "top-line view." This is understandable of course.

But this summarization, snapshoting and toplining on your part does not actually change the business because of one foundational problem:

People who are closest to the data, the complexity, who've actually done lots of great analysis, are only providing data. They don't provide insights and recommendations.

People who are receiving the summarized snapshot top-lined have zero capacity to understand the complexity, will never actually do analysis and hence are in no position to know what to do with the summarized snapshot they see.

The end result? Nothing.

Standstill. Gut based decision making. No real appreciation of the delicious opportunity in front of every single company on the planet right now to have a huger impact with data.

So what's missing from this picture that will transform numbers into action?

I believe the solution is multi-fold (and when is it not? : )). We need to stop calling everything a dashboard. We need to create two categories of dashboards. For both categories, especially the valuable second kind of dashboards, we need words – lots of words and way fewer numbers.

Be aware that the implication of that last part I'm recommending is that you are going to become a lot more influential, and indispensable, to your organization. Not everyone is ready for that, but if you are this is going to be a fun ride!

The Solution: Text (Wisdom).

Allow me to visualize the problem above, and leverage that visualization to present the solution.

In order to make smart decisions about the data you need four things. You need access to data, the ability to analyze (slice, dice, drill-up, drill-down, drill-around) interesting data points that your performance throws up, ability to understand what caused the performance (often by understanding who did, what and where in other parts of the organization), and the power to make decisions.

In a perfect world if everyone in the organization had access to all the data, the analytical skills to analyze what the initial blush of data says, the time to deep dive to find the causal factors related to good or bad performance, and take action on the insights, nirvana would exist.

It does not because of this challenge… there is a massive asymmetry between people how have access to data (you?), data analysis skills (you? someone else?), and the decision makers who have the power to take action…

data quantity understanding continuum

This becomes even more pronounced as you go up the chain of command.

As you might have guessed, you are at the very left of the above visual, with most access to data, the ability to analyze it (inshallah!) and the organizational relationships to marry with the analytical ability to find causal factors. Your CXOs are at the far right, very little of the three things you have (because they have other responsibilities, and also because they are paying you!).

data access deep understanding management layers

Everyone else falls somewhere in between.

Your immediate cluster direct or indirect leaders have some ability to look over the data, little ability to do analysis, but a ton of ability to understand causal factors. If only they got something that was not a data puke and had enough starting points (sounds like a dashboard, but wait!). These are your Directors, your owners of the Paid Search strategy, and other functional leaders.

The VPs of Marketing, Advertising, Product, Public Relations, Human Resources etc., have none of one or two, they have some of three (causal factors, after all they set direction and make decisions). The CXOs have very little of all three factors. But they have the power to make decisions and get people to take action.

So why would we create a dashboard like this one for our VPs or even our Directors…

so dashboard

Why would the above dashboard, even if you spent money prettifying it, deliver magical business results?

They don't have an ability to analyze the data, should anything pique their interest, and neither will they ever want access to the contextual data to do a… oh, wait, why did x happen, or I wonder if z is the reason Average Order Value is $356.

The cool part is that you have the ability to do that. Hence your CXOs should definitely not get a data puke like the one above. They should get a handful of numbers/charts (ideally identified upfront by the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model – DMMM) and they should get your brain in a box. I mean, they should get lots of words in English from you and not numbers. The words in English should ideally cover three things.

1. Insights.
Not a repetition of what the data already says. (As you can see graph one shows that visits in Sept. are down by 4%. They can see it, the graph is right there!!) Rather, what caused graph one to be up or down – the reasons for the performance identified by your analysis and causal factors.

2. Recommendations for Action.
What action should the CXO take? These will sound like: Metric x is down because of our inability to take advantage of trend y and hence I recommend we do z. Or: We missed our target for customer satisfaction because our desktop website performs horribly on mobile platforms hence we should create a mobile friendly website. Or: While revenue is up by 48% profits have plunged by 80% because of our aggressive shift from to Cost Per Click as the God metric, this has brought increased sales of our loss leading products. The problem is further compounded by our reliance on last-click conversion tracking. I recommend a shift to Profit Per Click and Avinash Kaushik's custom attribution model. English. Your insights. The so what based on data you've summarized and snapshotted.

3. Business Impact.
What will be the impact on the business if the CXO accepts your recommendation and the business takes action? I almost never see this. A small part of the problem is that Analysts often don't have the skills to compute impact of the recommended actions. A bigger part is that it is actually quite a bit of effort to compute impact. But, what better way to create a sense of urgency than tell the CXO what the expected outcome will be if they do based on your insights and recommended actions?

Your dashboard should have some data, but what it really needs are three sections: Insights, Actions, Business Impact. IABI.

Your dashboards don't need more wiz-bang graphics or for them to be displays of your javascript powers to sql your hadoop to make big query cloud compute. They need more English language. They need your brain in a box. Ok, three boxes.

The Recommended New Normal.

In-order to win, you and I and our peers are going to have to make a substantial change to our current approach.


For the first layer of our clients we are going to have to stop creating dashboards. Actually, we don't really create dashboards for them strictly speaking so we are simply going to have to stop calling them that. For our Directors, Marketing Owners, Campaign Budget Holders, and others in our immediate vicinity, people who have clearly defined siloed responsibilities to make tactical decisions, we are going to create customized data pukes. Let's call them CDP because it sounds better.

They don't have time to go get all the data, but they have the desire to analyze a bit, drill-down a bit, poke and prod. Our customized data pukes, CDPs, can come directly from our digital analytics tools (this will be important because our actual dashboards won't).

This is a nicely customized data puke for our Ecommerce and Customer Retention team.

digital anatlyics tool tactical dashboard3

A great summary of performance with some trends. Contains zero Insights, Actions, or Business Impact. But that is ok. These people know how to take it from a customized data puke, CDP, to getting insights that drive action which will have a business impact.

Just don't call it a dashboard from now on. That is reserved for outputs where you will have IABI.

Here's a CDP for our Real Time Site Optimization Team…

digital analytics tool tactical dashboard2

Their sleeves are rolled up, they are on the stand-by to take real time action. Give them a CDP and get out of their way. They can bother you every other week or so to tweak x or y about the CDP. That is fantastic.

You are not telling them what to do, or what you found. You are just acting as a glorified report writer. (They are much cheaper than you, so get a couple if your org is decent sized.)

You can also create CDPs using Google Analytics/Adobe/WebTrends or your favorite BFF. For example, this post Google Analytics Custom Reports: Paid Search Campaigns Analysis, has three great CDPs for your Paid Search team. Like this one…

paid search analytics end to end custom report

They can get a summary view of the Paid Search performance, and also drill-down and find deeper insights by themselves. The downloadable link for the above CDP is this one: You can find the others in the post.

Just don't call CDPs dashboards. You are not delivering anything beyond data (none of your insights, and hence no actions or business impact either). There should be no expectation that just providing CDP will change the business. It won't. You need someone at the other end to do the IABI.

[I've used the phrase customized data pukes lovingly here. I do not think unwell of them, you'll find plenty, what I now call CDPs, on this blog. And in large organizations there are lots of people and layers who just need CDPs. They are of value. In most small and medium sized organizations you don't need CDPs because the size, you can directly go to strategic dashboards.]

The Tactical Dashboard.

For our VPs (or high enough equivalent in your company, in companies where everyone is a VP this might be the Executive Vice President or some such important title), we will deliver a tactical dashboard.

It will have an aggregated overview of performance at the aforementioned VP/EVP level (with some context about overall business performance). The data presented in tables or charts will be segmented. Elements presented will be trended over time. Ideally also indexed against a previously agreed upon target for the key performance indicator (KPI).

You'll always include your insights. (Please scroll back up and see what constitutes an insight. Thank you.) You'll include some initial recommendations for action – they'll have a lot of context to come up with others based on your insights. For your recommendations, you'll include impact.

We'll look at some examples below. But our new normal picture now looks like this…

dashboard data depth balance recommendation

Each stakeholder getting exactly what they want with some of what they need to be successful. It is important to point out that tactical dashboards can't be created inside Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics or IBM or whatever

Which brings us to the last one.

The Strategic Dashboard.

This sexy thing has similar elements as the tactical dashboard, except the altitude is different (full business, end-to-end, performance view on KPIs agreed upon in advance using the DMMM) and you should bring the full force of your brilliance into play by over-indexing on the English words. I mean, identifying specific insights which lead into the recommended actions with a clearly computed business impact.

In fact if 50% of your dashboard is just words in English, that is fantastic. Your value will not come from being the deliverer of data. It will come from being a knowledgeable person about what to do with the data, what actions to take.

The glorious part of the strategic dashboard is that when presented the IABI are so enchanting that the entire meeting becomes a discussion about the actions rather than an argument about the data.

That is how you know you are winning.

Here's the fully flushed out visual that represents the new normal…

best dashboards for each management layer data english words

Three clearly defined offerings from you. CDPs, tactical and strategic dashboards.

Notice that both visuals are a continuum. Nothing in this post implies that CDPs won't have any insights or that tactical dashboards won't have complex business impact computations. There are lots of unique situations in the world, you'll adapt my recommendations as they best fit your environment.

But it should be crystal-clear that as you go from left to right there is a big shift that takes place. The shift is from providing data to providing actions and impact. The shift is in the scale of value you directly add. The shift, massive, is in data being sent around and people feeling a vague sense of happiness to data being actually used to improve the business (for profit or non).

And all from how much English you have in the output. Pretty darn crazy, right?

Tactical and Strategic Dashboard Elements: Examples, Inspiration.

All of my dashboards that you might find helpful have business confidential data so I can't share those as is. But in this section I want to share a collection of public dashboards, or examples of work submitted by students of Market Motive Web Analytics Coached Course. Each student, to earn the certification, has to submit two dissertations – comprehensive analysis of two websites (one ecommerce and one non-ecommerce). We teach the students how to create great dashboards, of course (!), and I'll share some of their work.

So guess what this is? Tactical or strategic dashboard? Think back to the definitions above.

digital analytics tool tactical dashboard

It presents a mixed collection of website performance, it is not specific to anyone. Big numbers are not segmented or trended. So it is a tactical…. strategic…. dash… no, you are right. It is a CDP. How smart of you!

Be very wary of calling the above a dashboard. It might help someone feel good there is data, but it is such a generic slather of things, it helps no one. Additionally there are no words with IABI (impact, action, business impact), hence it is uniquely useless. Expect this from your web analytics tools. Good for CDPs. Not good for dashboards, as we've defined in this post. An exception might be if you leverage some apps, like Google Analytics Apps and do the work required to meet our definitions above.

Here is an excerpt from a tactical dashboard… this one focused quite heavily on the VP of Marketing for the digital business with a big budget for Search.

dashboard insights recommended actions example

It will be difficult for the VP to know enough, even from your segmented trends and KPIs, what happened that caused the data to move in the way that it did. In the Analysis section (in this post we've called it Insights), the Analyst clearly provides hidden causal factors. Then she takes it to the next level and provides recommendations that are specific and rank ordered (from the most important to the least important).

The VP will look at the data, understand some of it, not know why stuff is happening, read the analysis, ask some questions and quickly move the meeting to discussing who is going to be assigned which recommendation.

The only part that is missing, not uncommon in tactical dashboards, is the impact of each recommendation. For example if we implement SEO strategies for Ohio Health Care and Ohio Health Insurance keywords, what outcomes can we expect? How many more visits/visitors? How many more micro outcomes? How much more profit?

Here's a complete tactical dashboard for a VP of Onsite Engagement who might love to see more data and trends. We give him what he wants, and on the top right, what he really needs. : )

Please click on the image to get a higher resolution version, it is well worth your review.

dashboard insights recommended actions example3 sm

Along with other things in the layout, also notice the red minus icons and the green plus icons. Another subtle and important way to quickly show performance (ideally against a target). The recommendations are again specific. They do allude to what the possible impact might be, though it would be better if it was specifically computed.

Here is an excerpted version of a strategic dashboard, but to a small business owner who is still at a stage where they are trying to survive and thrive. There is a lot of detail, perhaps too much, but it would not be difficult for the business owner to be attracted to your findings, in English, and your recommendations, in English. They won't spend too much time obsessing about your Big Data, : ), and charts and tables.

dashboard insights recommended actions example2

When you go into this type of territory, always, always, always, rank order things. Don't use bullets like above, use a numbered list – with the highest insight and most impactful recommendation first. This is your gift to them. Remember they don't have access to all the data, you do, and they don't have the skills to do the analysis, you do. We are solving for your brain and brilliance to go with the data. That is the magical part.

The next example is a complete tactical dashboard. It is only focused on one thing, Economic Value. It leverages the assisted conversions report from Google Analytics, and includes a module of the distribution of macro and micro-outcomes. The yummy part I wanted you to look at (beyond all the underlining!) are the sections on analysis, recommendations and impact on the business.

digital analytics strategic dashboard individual kpi drilldown sm

Please click on the image above to see a higher resolution version. You'll find it to be full of ideas you can use.

Our next example, by Kevin Jackson, is one that demonstrates the above approach, but applies it to a strategic dashboard. Among other things, notice how the altitude changes, the KPIs are strategic and the use of business goals.

Delivered to a CXO. Covers the complete end-to-end picture of the business (non-ecommerce in this case) by showing KPIs for acquisition, behavior and outcomes. Quick performance overview on top (vs. trend and target). The part we want to learn from is on the left. Insights. Recommendations. Business Impact!

digital analytics strategic dashboard sm

Please click on the image above for a higher resolution version.

The CXO now has the full benefit from your analysis, along with seeing key data. They also will have a sense of urgency, based on the $362,000 economic value increase computed by you, to take action.

I cannot underscore how critical computing business impact is. Without it, you are simply showing x happened in the past so do more. You are not really showing I've looked at what will likely happen if you do y by looking at the past, understanding current business plans and taking into account market conditions. The best Analysts are very, very good at this.

Our last example is another strategic dashboard, by Christopher Eddy. Covers acquisition, behavior and outcomes. Trends. Core KPIs (including competitive intelligence). Segmented performance views. All on one page, clean.

analytics dashboard key elements best practices2 sm

I've hidden the IABI, but hopefully the above image (click for a higher resolution version) will serve as a handy reminder of what is expected of you in each section.

In each example we are, to repeat myself again, sorry, I am trying to push you out of your comfort zone of reporting data by summarizing it into pretty graphs and tables. I'm trying to push you out of your office. I'm trying to push you to, like the best analysts out there, get very good at computing business impact (put your money where your mouth is). I'm trying to push you in to a role where you will be seen as a key business strategist and not just a business analyst.

If you do that, and use as much English as numbers on your tactical and strategic dashboards, your business will shift slowly over time to being data driven, it will be richer, that's going to flow down to you! Oh, and imagine how proud your mother would be!!

Closing Thoughts: Rules for Revolutionaries.

Five specific rules for revolutionaries looking to create magnificent dashboards:

  1. Dashboards are not reports. Don't data puke. Include insights. Include recommendations for actions. Include business impact.
  2. NEVER leave data interpretation to the executives (let them opine on your recommendations for actions with benefit of their wisdom and awareness of business strategy).
  3. When it comes to key performance indicators, segments and your recommendations make sure you cover the end-to-end acquisition, behavior and outcomes.
  4. Context is everything. Great dashboards leverage targets, benchmarks and competitive intelligence to deliver context. (You'll see that in above examples.)
  5. This will be controversial but let me say it anyway. The primary purpose of a dashboard is not to inform, and it is not to educate. The primary purpose is to drive action!

    Hence: List the next steps. Assign responsibility for action items to people. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Never forget to compute business impact.

I wish you happy dashboarding!

[Mandatory Bonus Read: Take your dashboarding practice to a next level by learning how to put together the best mini-collections of data on your dashboards in this detailed post: Smart Dashboard Modules: Insightful Dimensions And Best Metrics]

As always, it is your turn now.

What is your absolute favorite tip for creating great dashboards? Do you have a favorite dashboards, even a mock, that you would like to share with us? Will your company be open to adopting our three layer structure of CDPs, tactical and strategic dashboards? What have I overlooked in terms of reality on the ground, a facet of convincing people, working with companies in my recommendations in the post above? What part was most eye-opening, or you loved the most?

Please share your critique, insights, ah-ha moments and examples via comments.

Thank you.

P.S: Bonus posts you might find to be of value.


  1. 1

    Hi Avinash,

    I am looking for a tool to make nice dashboards. Do you have a tool you recommend? Something preferably free ;)

    I assume your dashboards are not being made in excel. I especially like the "dashboard for a VP of Onsite Engagement"


    • 2

      I'd rather interested too!

    • 3

      Great article Avinash, it's very trendy now to ask for a digital dashboard and it's a great way to leverage data into the company. But as you also pointed out text is actually the most insightful, the charts and graphs are just helping you to have solid arguments.

      @Joey I use and I'm quite pleased with it. You can pull data from API's, SQL databases, FTP, Excel files etc, so the possibility of integration more datasources are numerous. Also you have Excel functions for data manipulation built in the interface. Give it a try if you need something flexible. You can also add text widgets so that's just great.

    • 4

      Joey: There are perhaps ten thousand tools in the market that claim to help make "nice dashboards." Many are pretty turbocharged. They can do queries and have clickable drill-downs and even make you coffee. Ok, kidding on that last part. : )

      I have to admit that my most useful dashboards are presented using Word or Powerpoint. Which means that the graphs and charts are in Excel (from the analysis I do to identify the causal factors – see orange image above), and I simply add text boxes for the IABI.

      This might seem very quaint. And it is. But remember, if you are trying not to data puke, if you are trying to include the so why did this performance happen and what should we do as a company, that simply cannot be automated to scaled.

      Yet every "dashboarding solution" is trying to automate and scale. End result? All they do is make creating CDPs more efficient.


      • 5
        Nikolaj Bardram says:

        I fully agree. Actually Excel by it self is excellent, for making actionable dashboards.

        The ability to put images, labels that links to cells etc. makes it more adaptable than most other tools. Furthermore it is easy to "clean" the dataset in hidden sheets.

        Not everyone knows that you can link your graphs directly into Power Point, so when the excelsheet that isn't even open, is updated, the power point is updated as well. Great for presentations, where you want the latest data at the time of presentation.

        • 6

          @Nikolaj thanks for the tip re linking graphs from excel to powerpoint. I'll be leveraging that one!

          @Avinash – excellent post as always. Thanks for sharing your insight. I like how you expressed the Business Impact of ourselves if we don't apply Business Impact in our CDPs. :)

    • 7

      Dashboard design is important. Every business is different. So it's hard to design a dashboard that works for all businesses. My suggestion is to build a reusable dashboard template for your business. My team builds We help you build reusable web data visualizations. I'm biased :) But check out an amazing template we built for Twitter data:

      • 8

        Phouc: Thanks so much for sharing your dashboard.

        It is quite pretty (important), and I really love the capacity to filter using day of week (so clever).

        In context of this blog post.. the Vida.Io is closer to being a more effective CDP. On the very far left of the orange box in our visual, we have users who could benefit from an effect CDP.

        To qualify as a Tactical or a Strategic dashboard, Vida.Io would have to assist in solving for providing IABI (insights, recommended actions, business insights). Without IABI, this does not serve the purpose of junior or senior leaders (even as it will help the Data Analyst).


  2. 9

    Great article. I have already ditched the CDP's (previously sent to senior management) in favour of a strategic dashboard.

    Several people kept asking for their CDP as a matter of habit but came back to them with the questions "what does it tell you?" If they say total sessions, total searches, top pages… again I ask them "but what does that tell you?" At this point they can’t answer. CDP's often equal aggregated data which is so un-helpful.

    Tactical dashboards (based on your DMMM) equal insights and recommendations which in turn will lead to continuous improvement!

    Missing the Impact so will add that!

    Missing the Impact so will add that!

  3. 10
    Joshua says:

    Very insightful! I'm inspired to take action by revising some CDPs in my company:)

    I would love to learn more about computing things like "Economic Value" i.e. business impact.

    Can you point to any resources for this?

  4. 12

    Awesome post! Full of useful resources!

    But… how do you estimate the Impact to Business growth?

    • 13

      Mirko: Your question is a bit generic.

      But there is a collection related to forecasting that is one of the key facets of impact on business growth. The key is understanding immediate past performance, accommodating for seasonal factors, identifying what new actions the business is planning to take, and finally improvement from your new insights.

      If you want to see more specific examples of this please see this post:

      ~ Excellent Analytics Tip #22: Calculate Return On Analytics Investment!

      Be sure to download the Return on Analytics Calculation Model. It will share some ways to estimate impact.


  5. 14
    Edmon Moren says:

    Great post Avinash. It goes to show that actionable insights still come from data analysts that have put thought into making sense of all the data being collected, and that this process cannot be fully automated without running the risk of building a CDP.

    On a side note, MarketMotive looks somewhat like a pyramid scheme in this post (joking!):

    1) train a small clan of analytics ninjas,

    2) crowdsource your growth strategy by having them build insightful dashboards,

    3) total world domination! :)

  6. 15
    Josh Light says:

    Hey Avinash,

    What a refreshing, and timely article for me. I'm currently working on a dashboard for social media metrics. Your article has provided validation for my planned approach (*exhale of relief).

    My biggest frustration with most "dashboards" is that they completely skip out on the recommendations, and business impact. Doing so causes only data specialists or people close to that operation to even be able to understand what is going on.

    Another area of asymmetry I've noticed is that "value" is perceived differently based on what you do in the organization.

    For example, a social media manager may value an engagement metric where the CMO doesn't understand that metric or even care. When putting together your CDPs it's important to eliminate as much asymmetric information as possible to get the most value out of your data.

  7. 17

    Data puke often comes from insight-insecurity.

    When I've felt unsure of myself I've piled on the metrics thinking that by including EVERYTHING my audience will find SOMETHING interesting. It's a counter productive approach and I've learned to limit it by:

    1) Gaining confidence: reading blogs such as this one & getting more experience help


    2) Learning about the business in question: ask about company goals, key sources of revenue/growth, pain points, etc before beginning your analysis. Most clients love talking about themselves and their business and will appreciate your questions. Their answers will help you present "Impact to Business" style insights.

  8. 18

    This post is worth it's weight in gold!

    How do you consistently keep the quality of the posts so high? With every post I think "this is my favourite Occam's Razor post!" :)

  9. 19

    Great Article!

    I agree that analysts have access to all the data. But in many companies analysts don't get enough business context and access to the strategies to make recommendations and derive better insights from data.

    It should be management's responsibility to stop glorifying the dashboards and start looking to analysts for insights.

    • 20

      Shiv: Management certainly should take a share of the responsibility.

      But I am afraid I put more onus on us (Marketers, Analysts) for focusing obsessively on delivering IABI. It is after all our job, and in most cases the management team does not know to ask for what they don't know about. : )

      In some cases the management team does not trust data or Analysts, and it is a matter of earning their trust, that we know what we are doing/saying, by delivering really impactful actions.


  10. 21
    Rakesh Mungal says:

    Great post my friend. Need to re-read multiple times and soak in.

    Can you recommended tools and actual CDP design recommendations? Currently the need is CDP look and feel only and limited to Excel; brainstorming best design tools here.

  11. 23
    Nancy Koons says:

    A key challenge I often run into: Everyone wants to see every report and dashboard that gets created. :-)

    I have found it difficult to send one high level report to the CXO's, and different versions to the VP's/Directors and Senior Managers- either the CXO's ended up wanting more information, or Director's and VP's would "demand" to see the same info as the CXO's.

    So I usually end up creating a mid-level dashboard that gets circulated to everyone. Not ideal- but it's the people piece that I found most challenging in trying to create different dashboards for different audiences.

  12. 24
    Chris Russell says:

    It is very hard to get people to think at the right level! Thank you for sharing the DMMM, I'm off to get our organization to fill it out.

    The timing of this post could not be better. We are currently changing, what we now recognize are CDPs, into actual Dashboards.

  13. 25

    Hi – You say "our customized data pukes, CDPs, can come directly from our digital analytics tools (this will be important because our actual dashboards won't)."

    Whence they come? Is it a punt to BI, to the DomoBimeBirsts of the world, manu-mation, Drivexcel, all, none, it depends?

    When will GA release a text box /annotation feature for dashboards?

    Anyway, I think this is one of your best posts in years (with deniable foreshadowing included). :-)


  14. 26

    Great article! I agree with Mr. Griffin above that our reports are often based on insecurity.

    For several years I have taken a new approach where (other than CDPs) I produce no more than four single-page reports for discussion with mgmt (different depts as necessary); where each single page discusses one key performance indicator and delves into five aspects:

    – actual metric observation for the period (usually a chart, maybe YoY or trending)
    – analysis & interpretation (text – bulleted list)
    – why it is important / why we care (text)
    – recommended actions based on the data
    – specific deliverables and next steps.

    If you can keep it to one page, it can be discussed and actions can be agreed upon. I limit the total to about four KPIs, because I typically cannot expect mgmt attention beyond that! This approach helps keep everyone focused and is all about actionable items. It also helps force ME to pick my data (and my battles) carefully. ;-)

    If anyone is interested, I will send you a MS:Word template of the format I use.

    • 27

      Jim: This is a brilliant approach (and I would love to see your template).

      At Market Motive for our final dissertation defense (you see a couple of examples in the post) we have the student have the strategic dashboard as page one and then five to six pages of individual detailed analysis (a la tactical dashboard) for each KPI. All six pages can be presented to the management team, but page one usually is with subsequent pages for the various owners of each KPI.

      We use six because I encourage two each for Acquisition (what are we doing to get traffic to our site), Behavior (what is the experience once they land) and Outcome (what was the result of the visit).


    • 28
      Nikolaj Bardram says:

      Jim, I would certainly like to see that template. Inspiration is always welcome :-)

      Could you mail it to firstnamelastname @ gmail . com (replace with my name)

      It would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • 29
      Jacob Hartung says:

      Dear Jim and Avinash,

      I'm joining the choir of interested people. I would love to see the template as well.

      If you could mail it to firsnamelastname @ gmail . com (replace with my name) I would be grateful. Thanks a lot!

      Or perhaps Avinash could share it here if he has received it. Obviously with your permission Jim. Just a thought?

      Best regards

    • 30

      Hi Jim. I would dearly appreciate this template. As the digital lead for a national charity in the UK, I need this like we all need air.

      Thanks so much!


    • 31
      Marcie Winitt says:

      Hi Jim,

      I would love a copy of the template you are using!

      Could you email it to first initial last name @ gmail . com

      Thanks so much!

  15. 33

    Hi Avinash,

    Chapeau – very good stuff to read.

    I know this isn't a matter of tool in first place but, when trying to create a mix of nice graphs and meaninful text out of your several sources and do not want to fall into creative design over hours – you really need a tool which is capable of doing that, bringing it all together, fast and efficient and targetgroup specific (usability-, content, it, sem, seo, ….- team, upper management, ceo, ….).

    I do this with a mix of tools and this is really time-consuming, also because of the 'design'. klipfolio is a nice one, but cloud-based :(

    The other big challenge is to train the requesters and receipients not to ask for metrics only and all together not to look for funny coloured graphs but for text ;)

  16. 34
    P.J. Labanowski says:

    As you move up the food-chain, LESS is MORE (make sure it is relevant and valuable).

    These guys have limited time (and usually have A.D.D.) so get to the point. :-)

  17. 35

    Great post as usual! I'll add it to our weekly selection of "great articles and resources from niche bloggers".

  18. 36
    Nelson says:

    Nothing to do with this post, but I'm seeing your face way too much via re-targeting:

    • 37

      Nelson: Clearly you need to sign up! If you do, we will stop targeting you. :)

      On a serious note, I don't even know how this is happening. I'll give a heads up to the team.


      • 38

        If this was an online Ad, then the Ad agency is not doing proper tools for showing Ad. With this agency, your ads may even appear on illegal download sites, porn sites, fake sites creating automatic pageviews and even on sites criticizing data analytics. Probably u should recommend this agency to use tools for fraud detection in online marketing or write own javascript to detect that.

  19. 39

    Hi Avinash,

    Again a good article and dealing with dashboards with customers very regularly, it was a refreshing perspective and a "back to basics" to go from data to information & finally to concrete actions for the business you are involved in.

    A small tip for your dashboard is to always include a definition of your KPI and the parameters that can impact it. A great way to avoid questions from people looking at your dashboard irregularly and help them see a full value of it as their time is often very limited.

    Keep writing these great articles ;).

    • 40

      Hubert: Excellent tip! Even in the footer briefly mentioning the definition is a good idea.

      The other small tip I usually share is to mention the sources of the data. On the web we have so many tools and sources, it is nice to say where the data comes from.


  20. 41

    Hi Avinash,

    Thank you for this post. To be honest I'm sick and tired of seeing data puking dashboards. The funny thing is that those dashboards are often called Balance Scorecards here in Spain…

    I always remember Aurélie's questions to our customers when defining dashboards and KPIs "Why do you need that information?".

    It's difficult to make management understand that they don't need an A3 full of data but it's better to have some KPIs. And as you point out, the conclusions of the analysis and recommendations to drive actions. The way I manage selling this to management is using Vincent Kermorgant's methodology he developed at Nokia. It's very useful to discuss concrete business objectives.

    Cheers from hot Madrid!


  21. 42
    B.Greewnay says:

    What generated that acmeoutdoorinc dash?

    Very slick.

    • 43
      Nikolaj Bardram says:

      B.Greewnay – it is webtrends analytics 10 general overview of a profile. While it is "pretty", it is completely useless.

      However webtrends, like most other vendors has a great API for data extraction, which means you can create useful dashboards of your own, with automatic updates etc.

      Br, Nikolaj

  22. 44

    Hi Avinash,

    Rich post as always!

    This is another blog post who delights the SIMPLICITY. And as a simplicity believer on a complex Data Universe…

    Where can complexity can take place here?

    I mean, As a Digital Analytics consultant, is it normal that we keep all the complex stuff to us?

    • 45

      Mohamed: The question to ask yourself is why do you want to expose complexity?

      If it is because you want to show you are smart (and this is an extremely valid reason), focus on the quality of insights and actions. They expose complexity really well.

      If it is because you don't know enough and the other party will and so they should see complexity, focus on the approach outlined in the tactical dashboards. That allows you to show complexity.

      Other such scenarios.

      Ultimately, smart business owners will appreciate your understanding of the complexity, or the complexity of your business, based on your ability to identify actions that payoff.


      • 46
        Mohamed Hedi Lassoued says:


        My comment was in response to an article that criticized this post. I was curious to know your response and i'm satisfied now ;)

        We have to work a lot, Analyse Hard and bring value, but not add more hard work for our busy clients, the decision makers…


  23. 47

    If only this post had come out two months ago.

    It would have helped me with my market motive course :).

  24. 48
    Manisha says:

    Hi Avinash

    What a post. I am a credit risk analytics profession (we mainly build statistical models) but I have been lured into the field of business/digital/web analytics lately.

    Could you suggest some resources, courses that I can take up to make a career move from risk analytics to web/digital/business analytics. TIA!!


  25. 50
    Charles Valentine (co-founder Lumiary) says:

    Another great article.

    We started our new software business, Lumiary, to do for small eCommerce companies (Shopify, Big Commerce stores) exactly what you describe above – provide insights, make recommendations and predict outcomes rather than feed a small business owner a bunch of stats.

    We changed the name of one of our pages recently based on your good thinking about what a dashboard is and is not.

  26. 51
    Jason Juan says:

    It's a very inspiring article. Thanks for the sharing.

    Here is the situation I'm facing right now.

    Recently I'm creating web analytics dashboard for my organization.

    Instead of just mailing the dashboard to the business people every month, I try to write down 3 "findings" based on the dashboard I create.

    I know if it's simply dashboard, most of the dashboard receivers won't open it and the findings here plays the hook to let them have interested in the dashboard.

    My question is dashboard usually can't have insights, it usually gives you where looks not right and you need to dig-in more to have the insights. Act as a horizontal team, the "dig in" job is usually done by the business units or special requests to us then we investigate. So it's hard to always come out insights when delivering dashboard. That's my puzzle…

    In order to make the dashboard influential within the organization, I'm still thinking about how to make it more appealing to the dashboard audience.


    • 52

      Jason: Consider our framework in this post. We have two types of dashboards: Tactical and strategic.

      In your case it looks like you are creating tactical dashboards for recipients who have the skills, access to data and the ability to analyze and understand the causal factors to make a determination of what action to take. If this is the case, sending them findings is great.

      But, if you are creating strategic dashboards, or sending tactical dashboards to people without skills, access and ability to identify the causal factors, then it is best to follow the recommendations in the post and do all three components: Insights, Actions, Business Impact. IABI. Else your company will not be able to benefit from the data.


      • 53
        Jason Juan says:

        Hi Avinash,

        Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate it.

        I just got some feedback from the dashboard audiences. They're in the middle of our team and the business users (sales and marketing)
        However, it's just like an old story and what the dashboard users want is more reports.
        They dont take my written findings very seriously and just think it is another "monitoring" dashboard.

        I'm still thinking how to make dashboard influential, beyond just reporting.
        IABI is an excellent approach but I'm not sure if I can dedicated to do it every month (we have more than 70 business units, each of them has web analyst, more or less. our team is a horizontal team to support all of them !!)

        Thanks again for your feedback.

        • 54

          Jason: (Apologies for the delay in replying.)

          If you are in the central team, you can't be expected to produce what I call a Strategic Dashboard in this post. It would simply be impossible for you to analyze that much data (70 business units) and understand that amount of business happenings, priorities and nuanced realities.

          The only think you can do, at best, is to produce the Tactical Dashboard. I would encourage you to apply that strategy. Make the Analysts in the BU do all the work to create a strategic version.


          • 55
            Jason Juan says:

            Hi Avinash,

            Thanks for your suggestion. I will take your advise and see how I can do to make the dashboard have more contribution.


  27. 56

    Hi Avinash,
    Quite often, I have seen attribution modelling missing from dashboards. Do you see it fitting in tactical or strategic d.boards? Also, all marketing communications (campaigns) will not result in a conversion. How important is it to showcase the "See-Think-Do" approach in dashboards, so as to not let others freak out over numbers?

    • 57

      Adil: Attribution modelling is an analytical strategy, so it would not normally be present overtly as a table (though I suppose you could make something like what you see in the Assisted Conversions report).

      Usually you will see attribution modeling is present behind the scenes because you will apply it to your conversion data reporting in your dashboard, you will see it when you present the segmented view of your traffic sources etc.

      See-Think-Do approach has been applied in a dashboard as it shows the effectiveness of the company in engaging and delivering/extracting value from those three audience clusters. It is simple, and pretty. I don't have a public facing example to share, but I hope to in the future.


  28. 58
    Mette T says:

    Great article, Avinash.

    Just the input I needed – btw reading through the comments are also of great value..

  29. 59

    If you can keep it to one page, it can be discussed and actions can be agreed upon. I limit the total to about four KPIs, because I typically cannot expect mgmt attention beyond that!

    This approach helps keep everyone focused and is all about actionable items. It also helps force ME to pick my data (and my battles) carefully. ;-)

  30. 60

    Excellent tips! Thank you for sharing :)

    I have one question: Which tool to make nice dashboards. Do you have a tool you recommend?

  31. 61
    Zach Shearer says:

    Aa always, incredible post. I plan to walk through these steps and create a dashboard along the spectrum that you draw.

    My only suggestion for future posts is that you stop using acronyms entirely. It makes reading much easier when the words are written out. I'm sure some will disagree with me and that's fine. This is just my opinion.

  32. 62

    It would be great if you could share some of your thoughts on dashboards for FMCG. Particularly regarding outcomes.

    As sales are happening almost exclusively at retail, economic outcomes (the ability to link directly to sales) are nearly impossible to attribute.

  33. 64

    Hi Avinash, what is your opinion about Crazy Egg tool?

    I wonder if I can use instead Google Analytics.

    Thanks for the post!

    • 65

      Manuel: CrazyEgg is a wonderful tool.

      With Google Analytics / Adobe / Webtrekk or other web analytics tools, you are getting a full suite of reporting and analysis options. Segmentation, custom reporting, ecommerce tracking, campaign analysis, attribution modeling, and on and on and on. Think of Crazyegg as an excellent replacement for your InPage Analytics report in GA, and equivalent in other tools.

      So you have an And here and not an Or.


  34. 66

    Ok, you just wrote the one blog post that will save Planet Earth from the most damaging assumption I have ever come across in Analytics: A belief that everybody thinks the way we do, needs the things we do, likes the things we do (yes, Bob Dylan complained about this too!.. little did he know he’d had zero impact on Digital Analysts :)

    So, finally, here we have a split between very different mindsets which I also think are very well grouped (analysts-full access, bored ones-CDP, tactical, strategic). I guess I don’t have to share how often we come across a stubborn analyst insisting on imposing a “data discovery dashboard” (i.e. CDP) on his superiors when the focus should be on “Insight Delivery” as you very well put it.

    Large companies from literally all over the world are already waking up to this reality, embracing cascading dashboarding frameworks that allow for plenty of text/insights + recommendations, optimization workflow and even “impact scenarios”. But no, I did not come here to sell anything :)

    Keep it up. Great food for thought!

  35. 67

    I love tips #2 and #5. Do not leave interpretation to the execs and data drives action.

    Both of these relate in that the purpose of your dashboard is not to regurgitate information that is subject to its own interpretation.

    Instead the information displayed on your dashboard is a call to action, with its own explicit set of takeaways.

    Thanks Avinash.

  36. 68

    While I agree with almost all of this post and the commenters – ideologically, the time, cost, technical competence, data science and math required in practice to:

    1) collect, aggregate and correlate data from multiple data silos (especially at the user level),

    2) create multiple custom dashboards that are catered to numerous clients, optimizers, and managers who all have different questions, and

    3) produce actionable, insights in plain English alongside minimalistic KPIs in a user friendly, easy to understand and non-ugly dashboard…

    I have found that it is nearly impossible to accomplish all of this in practice and self-defeating to then set the expectation for such a high standard while also being held accountable for ensuring it all gets done, especially if reports are requested more than once a month for any more than 1-3 accounts…and that is assuming all of the above steps include data governance and proper multichannel attribution modeling + impeccable conversion tracking for online, offline and offsite marketing efforts + seasonality and other dynamic market trends.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but as I see it, if u drop the ball on just on of the steps mentioned above, u are most likely missing critical information or u are naively misinformed and at great risk of dishing out misguided and potentially detrimental advice.

    For example, if a client is invested in radio, TV, outdoor, and off-site content creation in addition to a handful of more measurable direct response online campaigns, it often appears as though the digital channels are the highest performers, so u drop some offline channels and all of a sudden your revenues and KPIs start to tank across multiple paid and organic channels. Worst of all, you have lost a little to a lot of credibility and trust from both colleagues and client(s) for even recommending such a poor course of action!

    In certain scenarios where all the stars have aligned (usually after months of insanely complex custom integrations and troubleshooting across various platforms/technologies) I will offer up custom analysis and suggestions on top of straight up performance data, but only once I truly believe I have reached a statistical confidence level greater than 90% in most cases. Otherwise, I let them know that only the ROAS (return on Ad Spend) from the holistic media mix, ie. all marketing efforts + message/offer response rates, from a macro level is all that we can truly measure at the end of the day. It's even difficult to quantify the impact offline channels have on users prior to engaging with channels that seem measurable on the surface. So I generally offer up 2 choices at this point:

    A) we continue to focus on communicating value propositions at the right times to the right people across various channels more effectively than their competitors and hopefully improve tracking capabilities as we go along, or

    B) we focus on building a performance baseline and defining ROI by maximizing resources toward the channels that are measurable and cutting the ones that aren't.

    We usually end up doing a mix of both. I will also let them know, however, that because we have channel x (usually paid search) which is fairly predictable, if they choose option A and performance starts to tank, we can re-allocate budgets toward channel x at any time to help ensure they hit their goals no matter what, so there are no wrong choices.

    This strategy allows me to help marketing directors or business owners understand that tracking and conversion optimization is an ongoing process that is critical if they want real answers, but it alleviates fears of making any wrong decisions while empowering them to feel confident in whatever course of action they choose because they know that they have a safety net and an ad ops team that will make the best of it all regardless.

    It also frees me from giving poor advice or having to spend precious time spent on basically hand holding – which then gives me more time to improve tracking and data collection across more channels to help my team optimize campaigns more effectively in the short-term while increasing our ability to make informed decisions in the long-term. Everybody wins!

    All that being said, I've found two awesome platforms for generating automated semantic analysis of Google Analytics data that clients and colleagues love, quill engage and wordsmith. Once one of these reports are added into the mix, if anyone asks me for more I just pull out a crib and a bottle and I ask them if they want me to read them a bed time story too.

    • 69

      Dan: First, thank you for this detailed comment with excellent guidance. It is much appreciated.

      This post is not trying so provide a recommendation of how to set up and run your entire data practice. It simply focuses on the most important end product that a true Analysis Ninja will create. Your caution falls into the entire data practice bucket, and in that you are right about the three steps, and you are also right about not dropping the ball on any one of the three.

      The strategy you are executing is really great, I hope others who read this blog will learn from it. And that they will find inspiration from the last line of your comment!

      #bedtimestoriesrock :)


    • 70

      Dan – Thanks for the references to QuillEngage and Wordsmith. Both are interesting tools I will look into.

  37. 71

    Where I work the "boss" is never going to take advice from the lowly data analyst and would view something like this as presumptuous. The boss will ask her advisors for a report like what you call an "action dashboard". The advisors need the tools to generate reports as you illustrate. After looking at the various reports, and maybe discussing in a joint meeting, the boss will make a decision.

    A dashboard (the word is taken from an automobile) is a real time instrument for insight into the functioning of some system. Calling your graphical reports, which I am not disputing the value of, dashboards, is misleading and does a disservice to the industry.

    However you do illustrate the lack of tools to generate incite-full reports such as yours. Concentrate on the tools, the role of the user is going to be different with each industry.

    • 72

      Synergist: I'm confident that in some industries having real time gauges and blinking lights is useful in making decisions. For operators sitting in front of a machinery, for example. Or someone with their hands right in front of the buttons to make changes to their PPC or Email campaigns, and the power to make rapid changes to aforementioned campaigns.

      But for most strategic decisions (big important actions to have a major impact on business profitability), it is exceedingly rare that a car style dashboard delivers any value. In fact, in my humble experience, getting to that state is a huge time sink and waste or money. What Sr. Leaders need are recommendations on actions to take with some supporting data, see the orange and blue triangles above.

      And as always, better to stress-test reality and then adapt recommendations from a "random blog". :)

      PS: You are only a "lowly analyst" if that is what you believe. Please consider focusing on providing insights and actions by understanding the business priorities. I assure you, slowly over time, if your insights are insightful, you will earn the trust of your boss. The last thing your boss wants is to wade through a gorgeous collection of data pukes. They want to take action based on data and move on to better thing. Your challenge, my challenge, is to have skills to get them the actions based on robust analysis.

      • 73

        Continuing the auto analogy; a "dashboard" alone isn't useful without "pedals". Our job is to ensure the dashboard focuses on the right things and that we have connected the pedals to enable effective changes can be enacted accordingly.

        • 74

          I agree, I have always viewed dashboards as being automatically generated in real time. It is just semantics really, just as job titles are semantics.

          My understanding of "Data Analyst" is to take the raw data and put it into a form which can be used for decision making. If you want to extend this to include information about what those decisions should be this would change the job description. There is a fine line here and it could be said that stepping across not only muddies the lines of responsibility but also predisposes certain decisions. "Need to know" is present in many corporations, so the "Data Analyst" would have to move into a trusted circle in order to present the kinds of reports you are advocating.

  38. 75
    Will Casey says:

    Hi, we are looking for a program to create a dashboard to track the monthly performance of one of our projects.

    We are wanting our end product to be a printable A3 sheet with several different types of graphs and tables. The data we would be using is not massive so most of the products ive found have been quite over the top.

    Is there a program anyone would suggest?

    Essentially we just want to be able to build graphs and tables into an A3 format but with a bit more color and energy that excel doesn't provide. Any help with this would be great.


  39. 77

    Answer to Will Casey

    If you want quick and dirty roll your own.

    Do your design in Visio and link to whatever database you have available.

    The visio diagram can be updated however you want.

  40. 78
    Roger Peatling says:

    Avinash, this is a really interesting and valuable post, Thank you.

    We have been grappling with the passive nature of dashboards in building our tool for marketing campaign management. We align the data to the calendar and activities to try and provide visual correlations in to assist users in gaining insight, e.g. activity 'x' provided 'y' response in web traffic, social mentions etc.

    I was wondering if you thought our approach, providing a more insightful 'CDP' :)

  41. 79

    Great article, as always !

    I have tried to build a dashboard like the one with word and sentences for a while. How do you link your sentences to the graphic ? How does the sentences appears ? Are they dynamic ?

    I have read that you use Excel, that's great everyone has it !
    Now its the "how" to build that thing that interests me.

    • 80

      Daniel: There are many ways to do the left part (numbers/graphs). You can use Excel. You can use the GA API. You can use other tools. If you need more help automating those bits, please work with a GACP. Here's a list:

      The text I'm afraid is not automated (anyone who believes real valuable insights can be automated is often mistaken). It comes from a human like yourself and myself who looks at the data, perhaps does some drill downs to find causal factors, and then identifies specific Actions and computes Business Impact.


  42. 81

    This is a fun, helpful article. I wonder if you could copy edit for repeated words and other errors so it can be passed "up the chain." ? For instance, under the first wedge-shaped visual, the second paragraph, reads:

    "As you might have guessed, you are at the very right of the above visual, with most access to data, the ability to analyze it (inshallah!) and the organizational relationships to marry with the analytical ability to find causal factors. Your CXOs are at the far right, very little of the three things you have (because they have other responsibilities, and also because they are paying you!)."

    I think you mean "you are at the very left of the above visual," correct?

    • 82

      Helen: Thank you for pointing this out!

      You are right, it was left. :)

      I've fixed it now.

      I do apologize for the copy-editing errors that creep in. Given all else, I can't seem to find time/person to help fix these things. I've made the conscious decision to compromise and do my best and put it out there, people can then forgive but still find value.

      I do realize it comes at a cost, and the one you point out is an important one.

      Thanks again,


  43. 83
    Nathan Smith says:

    Great tips. The article is very reach in ideas and well studied.

    Very helpful in to the people who want to know about dashboard.

  44. 84
    Rahul Sangole says:

    A good post, Avinash!

    There are nuggets of information here, that, when combined with knowledge dispensed in Stephen Few's dashboard design book, will make all of us better dashboard designers!

  45. 85

    Avinash … the most interesting part of this article was below the fold …. comments. Reading through the comments I am wondering did any of them actually pick up on your main point? The comments would suggest that many did not.

    There are tools out there – they are called Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I wish people would stop looking for 'magic bullets' and use their intelligence. Always looking for the easy answer.

  46. 86

    Hi Avinash,

    first of all for you posts, they represent an amazing source of information and wisdom.

    You might like statistics about Estonian E-Residency:

    Of course, it is not a Dashboard (no insight, no actions suggested), but I think it is a good example of "CDP", targeted to e-residency stakeholders.

  47. 88
    J_W_B says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with ranked insight and analysis with calls to action and impact assessment.

    While the are a fair number of good reporting tools for building cosy 'dashboards' (interactive data pukes that give the executive comfort of money well spent) I've yet to find one that stores the freeform analysis and commentary in a form that is associated with the measures, is searchable, and closes the loop on actions taken (documentation & measurement thereof).

    Would be very interested to hear of anyone having had success with reporting platform that also captures the context, insights, recommendations, actions and outcomes.

    • 89

      Justin: There certainly are some tools that allow you to add text or other bits of context to the executive dashboard. Sweetspot Intelligence is one.

      I want to stress that you also want to have the dashboard production process changed so that there is a step between the dashboard having been created and it going to Executives. In there, there should be time and an expensive person responsible for looking at the "awesome performance" and identifying what actions to take and what'll be the impact of those actions. That text goes into the open-text field.

      In almost all companies, neither is that time allocated nor is a person held responsible and accountable for Actions and Business Impact. In all those cases you still have a sweet dashboarding that still produces, as you mention, useless interactive data pukes.


  48. 90
    Balaji Setty says:

    I like the word you have casted for glorious number and graphs "CDP". Data visualization and information is important but isn't it just another form of CDP?

    I was trying to apply IABI in financial sector. They generate tons of dashboards and reports. Trust me, tons of them in PDF format with some times printed and shipped to customers. When I look into some of them, most of it is CDP. Not sure if institutional customers understand all of it and find insight for themselves or they have data team to create insights based on it. Fact is they are just CDP. I suppose art of finding insights and taking action is still for humans (no platform or AI?)

    This is a beautiful article about creating right actionable dashboard.

  49. 92
    Fernando Coutinho says:

    Excellent Tips. I Loved it.

    Thanks for Sharing


  1. […]
    This week Mr Kaushik reveals the beauty of digital dashboards. Even though many businesses already have them, it is good to think again what exactly we call a “dashboard” and how “pretty” vs “useful” they are.

  2. […]
    Dashboards are a great tool for delivering a boatload of information in one fell swoop and while there are tools to make them look more appealing there is a gaping hole in the delivery of dashboards that not only makes them aesthetically appealing but also help increase their understanding. Digital dashboards created by analysts rarely cater to the individuals that will be consuming the information contained within. Avinash Kaushik, who calls them Data Pukes, suggests delivering customized dashboards which contain graphic elements and effectively placed data elements that highlight the important factors and reveal the relationship between various factors. Read more at

  3. […]
    Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples Analytics Guru Avinash Kaushik talks about what makes a great dashboard

  4. […]
    Digital Dashboards Strategic & Tactical Best Practices, Tips, Examples.
    Our definition of management dashboards are transforming as we speak. Analytics Guru Avinash Kaushik reminds us that you don’t have to cram as much information on your screen as possible. We love the idea of extending the ability to slice/dice/drill-up-down-around to senior management and not just “data people”. This is a wake-up call for all us.

  5. […]
    Things I don’t learn in university
    In this post, my ideas was derived from this article

  6. […]
    Reality is not all recommendations will get approved. Accept that now or you’ll be disappointed. However think long haul. It might not be approved now but with more supporting documentation and maybe when more IT resource is available it will. NEW: Avinash has just written a great post on creating the ultimate dashboard

  7. […]
    For example, if you want to measure the total number of leads generated, is it important to just see the total number per week, or would you like to see a trend graph and a week-over-week rate to make sure you’re showing upward progress? Or perhaps you just want to see the total for the month compared to plan? Try to wireframe the report and clearly define how you would like it to be presented and delivered. I recommend reading Avinash Kaushik’s post “Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples to get some guidance on reporting templates.

  8. […]
    Digital Dashboards — Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples Концептуальный подход к проектированию информационных панелей (дашбордов) от Avinash Kaushik.

  9. […]
    Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples

  10. […]
    Preparing for a workshop for a Financial Services brand we have been looking at best practice in metrics. As ever the key is having a small number of important metrics to focus on and ensuring that everyone can see (and understand) what’s going on. The Don of analytics Avinash Kaushik shows us how simple a dashboard can and should be. His latest look at Mobile measurement is essential reading too.

  11. […]
    Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples by Avinash Kaushik – At Marketing Distillery we believe that dashboard design is an art form. Having the right amount of detail while providing business-focused insight is more than critical in our data-overloaded world. The difference between tactical and strategic reporting levels often blur to produce a pulp of charts and numbers.

  12. […]
    En premier, ne manquez pas cet article incontournable sur la construction de dashboards, qui montre comment il est facile de se noyer dans l’exécution et de perdre de vue les objectifs premiers d’un tableau de bord : piloter, prendre des décisions, plutôt que d’admirer une abondance d’informations.

  13. […]
    Dashboards sollen helfen, in der heutigen datenüberfluteten Welt den Überblick zu behalten und fundierte Business-Entscheidungen zu treffen. Doch die meisten Dashboards sind nichts weiter als ein Daten-Haufen – mehr oder weniger schön aufbereitet. Avinash Kaushik erklärt, warum die meisten Dashboards keine Dashboards sind und worauf es beim Erstellen eines richtigen Dashboards ankommt. (Hier geht’s zum Artikel auf, gelesen von Gloria)

  14. […]
    The final step is to summarize all your lovely KPIs and targets into a beautiful dashboard. The best dashboards are really simple. Display your KPIs and targets in a way where readers can easily see if targets are being met over time. Include notes on key insights, actions and steps being taken, and KPI definitions. Avanish Kaushik’s post on Strategic & Tactical Dashboard Design provides some excellent examples.

  15. […]
    Avinash Kaushik wholeheartedly disagrees. According to him, the main purpose of strategic and tactical dashboards is to drive action, which is why they have to be about insights and business impact – not about numbers and figures. Sweetspot follows a similar approach with its focus on performance. Raw data, available and comprehensible only to analysts, is not going to drive action. Your individual input will.

  16. […] Strategic & Tactical Dashboards: Best Practices, Examples. […]

  17. […]
    “Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples” … by @avinash

  18. […]
    Si il y avait une chose à retenir de l’article ce serait celle là : des chiffres ou courbes brutes ne veulent rien dire. Le coeur de l’analyse ne réside pas dans l’étalage de chiffres, mais dans l’interprétation (la plus juste possible) de ceux-ci. Votre site a enregistré 1000 visites cette semaine, ok mais, est-ce bien ou mal ? Bien si vous aviez fait 500 la semaine précédente, mais mal si c’est en période de soldes et que vos concurrents ont fait en moyenne 2000. Ces 1000 visites viennent-elles de 1000 visiteurs ou de 100 ? Combien ont converti ? L’interprétation de vos données trouve sa source de manières diverses : le contexte, vos performances passées, vos objectifs, vos évolutions, …. Ainsi cela vous donne l’éclairage nécessaire pour aller au delà des chiffres même et en faire ce pour quoi ils existent : vous aider à prendre les bonnes décisions. Voilà, j’espère que cet article vous a aidé à y voir plus clair. Vos choix d’analyse seront dictés par les orientations que vous souhaitez donner à vos supports digitaux et seront primordiaux pour la suite. N’oubliez pas que ce qui donne la valeur essentielle à vos données est la manière dont vous même vous les traitez et les interpréter. Un dernier point n’a pas été traité ici, il faut vous mettre toujours dans le peau des personnes qui vont lire vos rapports et vos interprétations. Toutes n’ont pas forcément les mêmes attentes (et le même temps à dédier, pensez à votre patron ou à votre collègue). Pour aller plus loin là-dessus, je vous recommande ce très bon article d’Avinash Kaushik sur les formes de rapport.

  19. […]
    Dashboards: estratégicos y tácticos: buenas prácticas, consejos y ejemplos. Gran post de @avinash

  20. […] Si il y avait une chose à retenir de l’article ce serait celle là : des chiffres ou courbes brutes ne veulent rien dire. Le coeur de l’analyse ne réside pas dans l’étalage de chiffres, mais dans l’interprétation (la plus juste possible) de ceux-ci. Votre site a enregistré 1000 visites cette semaine, ok mais, est-ce bien ou mal ? Bien si vous aviez fait 500 la semaine précédente, mais mal si c’est en période de soldes et que vos concurrents ont fait en moyenne 2000. Ces 1000 visites viennent-elles de 1000 visiteurs ou de 100 ? Combien ont converti ? L’interprétation de vos données trouve sa source de manières diverses : le contexte, vos performances passées, vos objectifs, vos évolutions, …. Ainsi cela vous donne l’éclairage nécessaire pour aller au delà des chiffres même et en faire ce pour quoi ils existent : vous aider à prendre les bonnes décisions. Voilà, j’espère que cet article vous a aidé à y voir plus clair. Vos choix d’analyse seront dictés par les orientations que vous souhaitez donner à vos supports digitaux et seront primordiaux pour la suite. N’oubliez pas que ce qui donne la valeur essentielle à vos données est la manière dont vous même vous les traitez et les interpréter. Un dernier point n’a pas été traité ici, il faut vous mettre toujours dans le peau des personnes qui vont lire vos rapports et vos interprétations. Toutes n’ont pas forcément les mêmes attentes (et le même temps à dédier, pensez à votre patron ou à votre collègue). Pour aller plus loin là-dessus, je vous recommande ce très bon article d’Avinash Kaushik sur les formes de rapport. […]

  21. […]
    Si il y avait une chose à retenir de l’article ce serait celle là : des chiffres ou courbes brutes ne veulent rien dire. Le coeur de l’analyse ne réside pas dans l’étalage de chiffres, mais dans l’interprétation (la plus juste possible) de ceux-ci. Votre site a enregistré 1000 visites cette semaine, ok mais, est-ce bien ou mal ? Bien si vous aviez fait 500 la semaine précédente, mais mal si c’est en période de soldes et que vos concurrents ont fait en moyenne 2000. Ces 1000 visites viennent-elles de 1000 visiteurs ou de 100 ? Combien ont converti ? L’interprétation de vos données trouve sa source de manières diverses : le contexte, vos performances passées, vos objectifs, vos évolutions, …. Ainsi cela vous donne l’éclairage nécessaire pour aller au delà des chiffres même et en faire ce pour quoi ils existent : vous aider à prendre les bonnes décisions. Voilà, j’espère que cet article vous a aidé à y voir plus clair. Vos choix d’analyse seront dictés par les orientations que vous souhaitez donner à vos supports digitaux et seront primordiaux pour la suite. N’oubliez pas que ce qui donne la valeur essentielle à vos données est la manière dont vous même vous les traitez et les interpréter. Un dernier point n’a pas été traité ici, il faut vous mettre toujours dans le peau des personnes qui vont lire vos rapports et vos interprétations. Toutes n’ont pas forcément les mêmes attentes (et le même temps à dédier, pensez à votre patron ou à votre collègue). Pour aller plus loin là-dessus, je vous recommande ce très bon article d’Avinash Kaushik sur les formes de rapport.

  22. […]
    Para utilizar e interpretar los dashboards y explotar al máximo su potencial (tanto en el plano de la monitorización continua como en el de la propuesta de acciones concretas) se pueden elaborar informes que los expliquen y complementen. A raíz de un artículo de Avinash Kaushik definimos cuatro factores que deberían acompañar a la interpretación de un dashboard a la hora de la toma de decisiones:

  23. […]
    Presenting data, especially key metrics is part of the day to day role of Google Analytics users. We often have to produce collections of data, specific to parts of a website or more importantly data that relates to the objectives and goals of your website and this is where dashboards come into play. Google Analytics provides its own dashboard facility, benefits to using them include:

  24. […]
    En als altijd de moeite waard: tips voor een beter dashboard, de onderdelen van intelligente dashboards, strategische en tactische dashboards, en meer (via doorklik in die posts naar eerdere artikelen).

  25. […]
    My first reference for a Web Analytics dashboard i was working on and i am hooked on ever since. All the posts on Avinash’s blog are lengthy (so spare 15 minutes for each post to digest and understand) and timely with great examples to set context so that even a beginner in web analytics will not get lost in the data & metrics language he speaks about. Must read if you are remotely associated or want to be working in the analytics background. Read it for: Digital Analytics, Google Analytics, Dashboards My Favorite post: Best practices & tips on Digital Dashboards

  26. […]
    Much more difficult to find is good advice on creating displays that are actually useful and effective at both communicating business information and encouraging behaviour change (encouraging a fee earner to spend more time on business development activities for example). As digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik highlights, digital dashboards should be “thoughtfully processed analysis of data relevant to business goals with an included summary of recommended actions” and not, as he calls it, “a data puke”.

  27. […]
    Finally, with all of this said and done, the greatest benefit for us as digital marketers to have diverse data information at our fingertips is the ability to plan the next sequence of actions that align with the core business goals based on the indications shown by the data. The best of the best can even forecast expected business impacts on proposed actions. By being well informed, any business can benefit from these insights in optimally growing their business.

  28. […]
    This dashboard is for the Indianapolis Museum of Art from Avinash Kaushik. It provides not only a complete snapshot but shows the importance text can provide in a KPI dashboard. In this example, the metrics that are most important to the successful operation and growth of the museum are listed. But there is also the opportunity to provides comments, insights and recommendations through the text box. So the dashboard is a living tool that promotes action.

  29. […]
    Or perhaps you just want to see the total for the month compared to plan? Try to wireframe the report and clearly define how you would like it to be presented and delivered. I recommend reading Avinash Kaushik’s post “Digital Dashboards: Strategic & Tactical: Best Practices, Tips, Examples to get some guidance on reporting templates.

  30. […]
    Dashboards can be great tools for data management. But when creating one, it’s not enough to simply put a bunch of data points on a board and place a few graphs here and there. Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist and Co-Founder & Chief Education Officer for Market Motive, Avinash Kaushik, highlighted the problem with this in his Occam’s Razor post on digital dashboards:

  31. […]
    Dashboards in Google Analytics are a great way to combine a lot of data into a small space for quick and easy viewing. Marketing automation tools also have varying degrees of built-in reporting functionality. Wrangling all the data together can be quite the challenge. One of my favorite analytics gurus, Avinash Kaushik, has more than 4,000 words of great advice on best practices for dashboards.

  32. […]
    Usein sanotaan, että dashboardeilla on joko liian paljon tai liian vähän dataa. Avinash Kaushikin legendaarisen blogin innoittamana (ja sitä kohtalaisen surutta lainaamalla) lähdin tarkastelemaan, mitä muuta työpöydissä on mahdollisesti vialla.

  33. […]
    Inevitably, you’ll want/need to make some changes. I recommend reading this excellent article from Google data evangelist Avinash Kaushik and I challenge you not to re-think your dashboard design. Re-arrange elements, get rid of pointless metrics and complex charts. As Avinash Kaushik says, avoid creating “data pukes”.

  34. […]
    Can we add more information to one data object, using 3rd and 4th dimension?
    We have to remember: data are only as useful, as the impact they have on our decisions. So there is no need for irrelevant data pukes (term coined by Avinash Kaushik ).

  35. […]
    Your boss is unimpressed every time you show her a PPC dashboard because she doesn’t get the context of your data. If you can make the abstract concrete, your boss will understand what each metric and graphic mean for her. Analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik, recommends using the following three elements in any dashboard.

  36. […]
    Reporting is another area of digital marketing where little value is added if you’re wasting time copying and pasting numbers into spreadsheets. Automate the data pull, have a dashboard that tracks key metrics and graphs them. Then spend your reporting time delivering valuable, actionable insights that will move the needle.

Add your Perspective