I’ve been asked a few times recently how a company can report on SiteCatalyst dashboard usage by its own employees. If you’re running an analytics practice, there are a few reasons why you might want to do this—for example, knowing which dashboards are most (and least) popular helps you manage your list of dashboards and optimize your dashboards by learning which features internal consumers prefer. (I know Adam Greco will like this! See his Idea Exchange submission here.)
You can set this up in just a few simple steps.
First, create a new report suite to capture dashboard usage. My RSID for this report suite is “gainescorpdashboards.”
Second, on each of your dashboards, click “Open Editor” (in v15, this is the “Layout” button). Under “User Content,” choose to add an image reportlet to your dashboard. Put it someplace inconspicuous, such as at the very bottom of the dashboard. The image URL should be a hard-coded beacon, like this one:
(Set the protocol to https because SiteCatalyst uses https and that’s where you’re viewing the dashboard.)
As with many old-school mobile implementations, you’ll need to hard-code the values that you want to capture. In the example above, I’m keeping it really simple: page name is the name of the dashboard, and prop1 (c1) is the name of the dashboard author/owner. Another possibility is to use a list prop (or, in v15, a multi-value variable) to capture data about the various reportlets in each dashboard. Remember to URL encode!
Third, save that reportlet and save the dashboard changes.
Whenever a user loads that dashboard, a simple hard-coded beacon will be passed into the new report suite that you created. You’ll have pathing enabled on page names, so you can see how users move from dashboard to dashboard. The depth of the data isn’t anything to write home about, but (as I said above) an implementation like this can yield insights that help you better manage your use of dashboards and better serve your users.
For example, take a look at this Next Dashboard report, which would have been possible based on the example described above:
People are going to leave dashboards. That doesn’t necessarily concern me. However, it’s very interesting that 37% of my users are switching to a different dashboard at some point later on in their SiteCatalyst session. I can begin to ask what they’re getting out of “Fall 2011 Campaign Dashboard” and to explore whether something needs to be added to the main dashboard to better serve users. This is an extremely rudimentary example, but hopefully you can see the point.
There are a few limitations that I should mention.
- This reportlet needs to be added to every dashboard individually. You can copy a dashboard, but you’ll still need to edit the reportlet to reflect the new dashboard. Some effort required.
- This doesn’t work for distributed reports. A beacon won’t be fired when someone opens the dashboard in PDF form. Depending on your situation, that may be a non-starter or it may be completely irrelevant.
- People may ask about that weird blank reportlet. Yep.
So there you have it. A (relatively) easy way to capture some rudimentary (but valuable) data about your company’s dashboard usage in SiteCatalyst. Don’t just assume people are using the dashboards you’re building! Hopefully doing some basic analysis on dashboard usage will prevent you from wasting time on pointless dashboards and allow you to optimize your dashboards to better serve your company’s needs.