Dashboard Dangers and Web Analytics

Dashboards are important because they:

  • Provide warning signals
  • Provide people with an important information overview

However, they can also be very dangerous. If your job requires you to interpret data and create actionable items you must have access to all the data. Don’t rely on someone to prepare a dashboard for you. Here why:

  • You must look for trends and patterns in the data. Finding things that should have happened but didn’t. If you rely on someone else’s interpretations—which is what a dashboard is—you will miss things
  • Your expertise will let you know where to find more data. Drilling down or accessing additional information is critical. The right level of detail cannot be decided in advance—which is what a dashboard is
  • You need to build your own mental model—not rely on others
  • You need to understand how the data was collected
  • You need to be able to manipulate the original data as you learn more about the problem

The web analytics professional must convert data into understanding in the same way that expert weather forecasters analyze their information

Talented web analytics professionals know that the data is only half the storey. Intuition and experience are needed to interpret the data and dashboards can get in the way. To learn more, read Gary Klein’s book, The Power of Intuition. This blog post is based on his analysis of comparing expert vs. average weather forecasters.

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