Apply the KISS principle to your dashboards. C’mon. Do it.

Dashboard Widgets

Wow, I just thought I’d check on how many dashboards we handle at DashThis. I knew we had a bunch, but I’m still surprised do see that we have more than 23,000 active reports!


From time to time, I check some of them to see how our clients use our reporting tool. I guess there are as many different ways to create a good dashboard as there are great web agencies out there.


One thing that stands out from the crowd though: most of our dashsboard-intensive users (clients with more than 20 dashboards and reports in their account) keep things very simple.


I could say they follow the KISS principle when creating their dashboards.


What is the KISS principle?

KISS stands for “Keep it simple, stupid”. Or said otherwise, the simpler the better.


Actually, beside geeky engineers, who likes complicated things? Surely not the average web agency client!


Simplicity should be a key goal when designing a dashboard or a report. In fact, that should be a guideline in almost everything you do whether it’s a website, a landing page, a campaign or a shopping cart.


Or as I have read somewhere: Don’t make me think!


kiss principle illustration #1


Numbers are complicated enough. No need to complicate a dashboard on top of that.

Numbers are complicated for most of us humans. Flooding your clients under a truckload of numbers and statistics won’t help them see what you have done for them.


Unless that’s exactly what you want because you are tempting to hide your poor results? But that’s another subject.


So, if we get back to the basics, why do you provide a report to your client? Because it’s probably the most tangible thing they will feel about the return on the money they pay you.


Indeed, web marketing has this terrible flaw of being virtual, untouchable, and elusive. A client could pay you for years without never seeing a tangible result. That works as long as he believes there’s a return on his investment!


Advertising can’t be measured. It’s all about “branding.” Not!

Actually, that reminds me advertising in the pre-Internet era. Most marketers would rely on the “branding” concept because there was no easy way to measure the return on ad spending. Those who tried things like couponing or a distinct phone number would often be surprised about how difficult the results were to get. The practice at that time was simply to leave these results in the drawer. Showing them to the client would be a bad business decision (transparency anyone?).


Fortunately, in the marvelous Internet era, most of online activity can be measured with a pretty darn good accuracy. You can’t ignore the results like in the ol’ days. That’s good for both the client and the web agency actually: You now develop a business relation based on trust and respect.


And you know what? No one hits 100% homeruns 100% of the time. You drop the ball sometimes. And that’s ok as long as you are honest with your clients.


So, long story short, give your client the true honest facts about your results. And to do so, don’t overload your client’s dashboards. Only a couple of key results will do just fine.


kiss principle illustration #2


Or, as I like to say: if the building was on fire and you had to save only ten metrics, which ones would you pick?


In short, always think about the KISS principle. Is this KPI useful or does it muddy the waters? Read: focus on the most meaningful and relevant ones.


kiss principle illustration #3


Happy reporting!

Stéphane Stéphane Guérin

Stéphane has been working on business web projects for more than 15 years. After creating and selling numerous web marketing agencies and web apps, he founded DashThis in 2011. 

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