Why Your Startup Needs a Visual Dashboard

Jess Erickson

February 16, 2011

This post was originally published by Robert Laing on the mygengo blog. Robert and mygengo are part of the 500 Startups family. You may remember Robert from his recent guest post on doing a startup in Japan.

Since this is a long post (albeit very informative), we’ve chosen to publish an excerpt of the post here and link to the rest of the post.

This post will tell you why you need to start visual reporting for your startup, and how to go about putting together a basic dashboard.

You already know this: What gets measured, gets done.
You already know this too: Humans instinctively respond to visual cues
So do this: Use visual dashboards for your startup

I’m going to start this post by saying that myGengo doesn’t have a perfect track record in choosing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or “key metrics”, we don’t have the world’s best dashboards, and we don’t display data to customers and translators perfectly 🙂 But we know this, we know what we should be doing, and we’re getting there. So it’s worth sharing our knowledge to date.

Contents of this post:
Why & what to measure

  • Why you need visual reporting
  • Why you need to share the dashboard
  • Choosing what to measure
  • Choosing time periods

How to do it

  • Why visual reporting was hard
  • How we did it wrong
  • Designing data

Tools & Services

  • How to do it: External tools
  • How to do it: Do-it-yourself

Why you need visual reporting:
Data is, by nature, kinda dull. It’s very hard to do the following in numerical data:

  • See trends
  • See progress towards targets
  • Compare/correlate values
  • Demonstrate ‘danger’ or ‘success’
  • See groupings
  • Scan quickly

All of which I would argue you gotta do if you’re going to steer the startup ship. Visual reporting allows you to communicate quite complex data in a few instants, which means more people in the company understand things, and spend less time wondering.

A visual cue that something might be wrong

To read the rest of this post, visit the original version on the mygengo blog.

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