Early-stage startup dashboard example

Photo of Paul Joyce, Founder & CEO at Geckoboard
Paul Joyce

Founder & CEO

* Contains sample data

What’s this dashboard for?

The early stages of a business are critical. When resources are limited and you’re working with a small team, time is of the essence, and focus is essential. Without total focus, the chances of breaking through and delivering a product that people love are pretty slim.

That’s why this dashboard is one of the most important ones we’ve had at Geckoboard. It’s there to focus everyone’s efforts on what’s most valuable early on. And this ensures you’re making something people want.

It can be tricky to choose metrics at this stage, as you probably don’t have many active users generating much data. Qualitative data from conversations with your users and potential users takes priority, as listening to feedback and understanding niggles helps you refine what you’re building. And as things scale, qualitative data is still vital as it shows if your work has had the outcome you wanted.

Choosing which metrics to put on your dashboard can be confusing to begin with. Thankfully there are some great resources that help you pick a starting point and refine your metrics over time:

A good way to start is by thinking about what you want to influence, and asking yourself “What do we need to need do to affect that?” Then you can ask “What’s the most important thing we should do right now?”. Working back from here, you should have an idea of which metric captures that most important thing. Then you can think about which metrics feed into this and add some balance.

In the case of Geckoboard, we make software for customers who want to create and display dashboards with their most important metrics. The metrics we’re most interested in are ones that show whether trialists are connecting their data sources, visualizing their data, and creating dashboards.These all relate to the core areas we want to influence:

  • Engagement and Retention for current and recent trial users
  • Activation Rate for this week’s cohort with a goal plus bart chart showing the last eight weeks
  • Number of Widgets Created
  • Average Number of Widgets per account
  • Retention over one day, one week, one month and months

When we were building the early versions of Geckoboard, it was all too easy to get distracted by features and services that wouldn’t actually help customers succeed with our product. We soon realized that we needed a clear statement of intent that would keep everyone working on the core problems that actually needed fixing. Luckily we were building just the tool to help make this happen!

As Geckoboard has grown, our main focus hasn’t really changed. What has changed is our understanding of our product and our users, and our ability to tackle bigger problems as the team has expanded. As we’ve learnt more, our definitions of certain metrics have matured, and we’ve added certain nuances to metrics that weren’t on our radar early on.

As we grew, Monetization joined longer term Engagement and Retention as important areas for optimization. But, when needed, we spin up new dashboards for a specific focus with a team or the company as a whole.

  • Keeps everyone focused
  • Shows the impact of everyone’s efforts
  • Helps deprioritize work that may be lucrative but won’t benefit your wider user base

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