In the past few years my business has gotten a lot more complicated. With so many servers, sites, advertisers, and ad campaigns it gets really hard to track what the heck is going on.
When a server goes down you notice (an SMS alert from a tool such as Website Pulse, Monitive, or Pingdom lets me know instantly.) When we change something with how a site functions, sometimes the more subtle changes aren’t noticeable. We’ve put lots of checks in place but problems still occur.
One way to stay on top of things is to use a dashboard. Its kind of like a Bloomberg terminal of just stuff from your own company. You take a dedicated monitor and slap up a screen full of all of the important metrics you need to keep an eye on. Examples of use would be how much money you’ve spent on your advertising accounts today, unique users who have visited by email, conversion rates for new user registrations, and total gross purchases by customers.
I have been experimenting with Geckboard for about a week or two here. Its running on a dirt cheap 27″ Korean IPS I picked up off eBay. With one glance I can tell if we are on track for the day, or if some particular metric is off.
Geckoboard has easy to use plug ins for popular web services. All you have to do is plug in your account info and it pulls the data you want out and sticks just it on your screen.
For internal systems or tools that aren’t supported with their plug and play widget system, you just need to populate a simple XML feed. If you use Google Analytics or Mixpanel, you may be able to just feed the data through those accounts.
Figuring out exactly which metrics I need to watch moment to moment will take some trial and error. But, I’ve already had a couple of instances where I caught a mistake before it became a problem thanks to this thing.
Oh yeah, and its $19 a month for 20 connections/widgets — much more than that and your showing yourself way too much data to be useful anyways.