It’s never too late to start tracking metrics

Dashboard-driven development, metrics-driven development, whatever you may call
it, it’s super important. I’m embarassed to that this, but after running a
successful site for over four years, I didn’t have a dashboard with even the
most basic of metrics like new users per day or anything insightful about the
site’s usage.

It’s embarassing because without a easy to access view of the data, I’ve never
been able to fully understand anything about my site. Did that change hurt
traffic? Did the impressions drop but DAU is actually up? Is anyone even using
the referral system I built?

These aren’t hard questions to answer, but you need to see the data to know.
Not only do you need access to it, but it can’t just be sitting in a fucking
database somewhere, it needs to be easy to get to. It needs to be in your face
pretty regularly as well.

So after over 4 years of being blind, I started to build out a stats dashboard
showing the last thirty days of data at a glance. Even without a full month’s
worth of data accumulated yet, the data was instantly invaluable. With that
data, I was able to establish a target goal that we can shoot for.

In retrospect, I should have started with the metrics dashboard first, before
writing any code. Just slapping together a mock up of a dashboard with data
based on what functionality I was planning to build for the site.. Actually
fuck mocking it up, it really just needs to be a list of user stories and what
you want to be able to track.

Everything a user does on a site is something that could potentially be
tracked. I’m not saying that you should track ever single thing, but if you do,
you won’t end up wishing you did down the road 😉

Josh Sherman - The Man, The Myth, The Avatar

About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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