As we explore some of the new features and enhancements of SiteCatalyst 15, I’d like to review an area that is near and dear to my heart — dashboards. As a freshly minted MBA student seven years ago, one of the very first projects I was assigned at Omniture was to create multiple SiteCatalyst dashboards for one of our biggest clients. The client needed essentially the same dashboard reproduced for each of its 30+ different product divisions.
Being the low man on the totem pole, I got the fun assignment to build all of them in SiteCatalyst 10. At the time, there was no way to copy a dashboard and simply change its report suite. Each had to be built from scratch, and they were fairly large in size (16−20 reportlets). Get the date range wrong on one of the reportlets, and it would have to be built over again. While I wouldn’t say it was my worst assignment ever, it was repetitive, arduous, and — I’ll be honest — a little clunky. If we fast forward from version 10 to version 15, there have been a lot of dashboard improvements along the way. I’d like to highlight some of my favorites in SiteCatalyst 15’s dashboards.
Focusing on the aesthetics first, the dashboards get a new look-and-feel in SiteCatalyst 15. If you look at the screenshot of the same dashboard in versions 14 and 15, you might think that not much has changed because the actual reportlet graphics look similar. However, if you look more closely you’ll notice that the wasted white space at the top of the dashboard (near the dashboard name) and the extra space on the left-hand-side has been removed.
Tightening up the spacing increases the size of the reportlets so they can be more easily viewed. I also like the gray reportlet borders that make the individual reportlets more distinct and aligned. In addition, some interactivity was added to some of the reportlets. Pages reportlets now have links to the corresponding Page Summary report for each page. On the map versions of GeoSegmentation reportlets, you can now hover over a country/state to see its total count and percent of total (e.g., Canada 99,168 12%).
If you’re responsible for building dashboards on a regular basis, you’ll be happy to know that the workflow for editing reportlets and dashboard layouts has been improved in SiteCatalyst 15. If you’re building a new dashboard, you’ll have the choice to start with a 3×2 (three columns by two rows) or 2×2 layout. In version 14, the default setting was the 3×2 format, and you had to add a new page to get the 2×2 format. I like the 2×2 format for situations where I’m comparing two time periods side-by-side (e.g., last 7 days vs. previous 8–14 days).
You’ll also find the other editing options better organized and more user-friendly. When you want to edit a reportlet, a quick-access window will drop down giving you the option to select the graph, details, etc. Lastly, it is now much easier to set a dashboard as a landing page as you can select that option from the dashboard toolbar (under “More Actions”).
New Dashboard Options
I’ve been saving the best two new features for last. In the past, SiteCatalyst dashboards were fairly inflexible, especially when it came to changing date ranges. Now you can adjust the date ranges of the entire dashboard or individual reportlets without even going into the layout (editor) mode like you needed to in SiteCatalyst 14. You can now click on the date range for any reportlet to change it or click on the calendar feature on the far right to adjust the date range of the entire dashboard. Being able to adjust the data ranges on the fly allows for quick spot checks for different time periods without having to pull up the full report or go into the dashboard editor.
In a previous post, Kevin Willeitner walked through SiteCatalyst 15’s new segmentation feature. In SiteCatalyst 15, you can apply the various segments to individual reportlets or the entire dashboard. For example, you may want to look at a particular dashboard filtered for just Facebook users or new visitors. Now the dashboard isn’t just a reporting tool but also a handy analysis tool where you can quickly see multiple reports in one view for a particular segment. The segmentation filter makes it easier to gain insights into a variety of segment-specific behaviors. It’s great to see the dashboards evolve over the past seven years and provide more value than just reporting.