Recently I wanted to replace the in-house built big screen dashboard because it became very unstable. After some Google searches, I found Ducksboard, Geckoboard and Leftronic. They all offer free trial period, so I signed up and trialed each of them.
The first one I trialed is Leftronic. It seems it is a very popular one. My data source is Google Analytics at this point, but we are going to implement Adobe SiteCatalyst. After authorizing Leftronic to connect to Google Analytics reporting APIs, it is fairly easy to put up some widgets on the dashboards to show today’s visits, revenue, goal completions, etc. But if you are after something more complex, such as mobile visitors vs desktop visitors for the current day, you will have trouble to build it. The wdgets for Google Analytics is very simple, either a line, or a number. There is a map for the visits and visitors. There is always a triangle next to the number to show comparison of the previous period, which of course almost always in red because it is comparing current day to yesterday full day in my case. And I can’t get rid of it.
So I try Geckoboard, which is actually better. The wdgets have more options available when pulling data from Google Analytics. You can even apply segments on the data. But when it comes to line widgets, the interface always put the last number next to the line, which means it is the current hour visitors on my hourly visitors line for the current day. And Ducksboard just doesn’t work. After I built a widget, the widget fails to retrieve data so I stopped waisting time on it.
After trialing Ducksboard, Geckoboard and Leftronic, I would say Geckoboard is the winner. The dashboard interface is nicer, the widgets are more flexible in retrieving data. The map widget is definitly better than the Leftronic map widget too. But, none of them can satisfy my requirements.
Thanks to the colleague sitting next to me recommanding Klipfolio after I told him these dashboard tools. I found Klipfolio is very flexible. It allows you to write your own Google Analytics reporting API requests, which means you can get whatever you want from Google Analytics as long as Google Analytics reporting APIs support it. And it also supports Adobe SiteCatalyst APIs, although I am not sure if that works yet. However, you can image it is not as easy to use as the above tools. The idea is you can use the APIs to build data source to pull the data from Google Analytics to a spreadsheet in Klipfolio platform. Then in the widgets, they call them Klips, you can use forumlars to manipulate the data and present them. Since you can use forumlars on the data, you can even build calculated metrics on the Google Analytics data, which is a feature Google still fails to deliver now. The data can be refresh as frequent as every minute, pretty good for close to real-time big screen dashboards if you are using Google Analytics. And it is a good tool to build dashboards can’t be built with Google Analytics built-in widgets. That is the reason at the end of the trial, I decided to go with Klipfolio and now our big screens on the walls are showing the Klipfolio dashboard I built.
Another thing I learn from the trial is that although building big screen dashboards is a fairly simple thing compared to any web analytics project, but it draws a lot of attentions in the office and people are always amused to see how the website is doing. It is a very good way to showcase web analytics and get people interested in web data.
Here are some example dashboards on Klipfolio website: http://www.klipfolio.com/resources/dashboard-examples