A review of another major player in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) dashboard space, Klipfolio, which proves to be a helpful, accessible tool set.
Over the last several months I did a review of the major players in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) dashboard space, such as Leftronic, Cyfe, Klipfolio, Gecko, Bime, and Ducksboard. In a previous article I did an in-depth review of the Leftronic dashboards and its connections with Google Analytics. This month I'm reviewing another powerful dashboard provider -- Klipfolio.
The coders over at Klipfolio have made a platform with very unique strengths that make it a strong dashboarding platform for Google Analytics as well as providing users with strong tools for data manipulation and integration. Because I am focused on Web analytics reporting (i.e. Google Analytics and Salesforce), I specifically stayed away from more complex and costly providers such as Tableau that focus heavily on business intelligence type functionality. I was pleasantly surprised that at the mid-to-low price range, Klipfolio provides excellent dashboard functions and powerful business intelligence features that compete with the largest players in the space.
Below are the top 10 features that I think make Klipfolio an awesome dashboard and business intelligence tool as it relates to reporting for Google Analytics.
1. Video Support: Learning the various features of the Klipfolio toolset are made a little easier by a comprehensive educational video library on YouTube. Learning any dashboarding tool is challenging and written instructions are rarely intuitive. The team at Klipfolio has done a great job of describing how to use major functions in a friendly format.
2. Separation of Data Retrieval and Presentation Layers: This is fairly unique amongst the new SaaS dashboard providers. When creating some new dashboards, Klipfolio has you start by creating Data Sources, which are basically queries to the data provider (i.e. Google Analytics). There are simple and advanced modes. For Google Analytics queries, the admin tool is fairly straightforward. For example, it has drop-down selectors for standard dimensions and metrics but it doesn't include tools for custom dimensions, filters, or segments. The interface does provide an advanced feature where you can do manual queries through the Google Analytics query URI function.
3. Data Manipulation Tools: If there were an Olympics for the hosted dashboard providers, this would be the event that Klipfolio would win the gold. Once you have created one or more data sources (called Klips), you now have the ability to edit the data similarly to how you would in an Excel spreadsheet. You can perform very powerful functions such as edit data sets, apply equations, and combine data sets. For many dashboarding tools, the data analyst will often have to export the data from Google Analytics into a spreadsheet for manipulation and then import the data into the dashboard tool. While this manual process is still possible in Klipfolio, it is no longer necessary. Klipfolio has thoughtfully included data editing tools built right into the interface.
4. Graph Editing: Klipfolio provides some admirable tools for customizing graphs. While many of the alternative dashboard providers focus on graph design options such as line color and little more, Klipfolio gives the user sophisticated control of graph appearances -- more control than tools such as MS Excel. They even provide easy tools for mixing up the graph types (i.e. spark lines and bar charts together). The powerful data manipulation tools mentioned above even extend into the graph management functions, allowing you to perform functions such as changing graph colors based on data thresholds.
5. Annotations: This is such a simple feature, but it is a great one. Similar to Web analytics packages, Klipfolio allows you to add annotations to each data point/graph. When creating dashboards, data analyst obsess over whether or not viewers of the dashboard will fully understand the data points. These simple annotation tools help ensure that the end user can get their questions answered.
6. Klip Source Code Editor: Similar to above, this is a simple tool -- but very powerful. As you create and customize you Klips (widgets/modules) you have the powerful configuration tools, but if you find that the tools are limiting you can switch to the text editor. The Klips are managed in a proprietary, but very straightforward, set of configuration variables that allow you to edit simple things such as Klip names down to every minute detail such as graph line weight.
7. Custom Templates: The admin tools give you complete control over the layout of the dashboards and the number of widgets you would like to appear. These also scale to the width of your browser.
8. Version Control: Version control is usually a product of enterprise type platforms and not very prominent in the hosted dashboard space. Klipfolio allows you to save versions of Klips and dashboards and roll back to any version at any time. The tool also provides some basic information about each version such as owner and date.
9. Exports: While Klipfolio is a platform for Web-based dashboards, they give users multiple formats for distributing the data other than the website. Users can distribute dashboards as a whole or even individual Klips. Users can convert the data points to PDFs, images, or CSV formats. The dashboards (Tabs) can be shared with groups within the platform or sent out to email groups on an ad hoc or scheduled basis.
10. User Management: The user management tools are a simplified version of what you would find in a Windows server environment. Administrators have the ability to create new users, new groups of users, and new roles within the system. Custom roles and/or new users can be given a combination of permissions for all of the major functions within the platform. Along with the version control functions, this helps put Klipfolio into the enterprise dashboarding space.
Klipfolio's position as one of the major leaders in hosted dashboards is clear. They are innovators with their data management and data manipulation tools. The layout and graph creation tools are stable and solid with some good support materials to learn how to use the tools. In my experience, Klipfolio still needs to work on the administrative interfaces for connecting to and retrieving data from tools such as Google Analytics to make advanced data points accessible to non-technical users. But overall, I am very impressed with the entire Klipfolio tool set and highly recommend it. The trial version is free and once your trial is up it is only $4 to $20 per account per month depending on which package you sign up with.
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