How We’ve Launched a Survey Software Without a Reporting Dashboard (And Why It Worked)

Moritz Dausinger on May 22, 2020

Two months after our official launch we finally equipped Refiner with a proper survey data Dashboard. A feature that most people would consider table stakes for a survey tool and expect to be included from the very beginning.

In this post I’ll explain why we launched Refiner without a real Dashboard and how it worked for us.

Your First Product Iteration (Typically) Sucks and That’s OK

You just have to accept it.

If you are working in startups, you heard the following quote probably hundreds of times already. Reid Hoffmann, the founder of LinkedIn, once famously said:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

At Refiner, we are definitely following his credo … 😂

Don’t get me wrong. We love beautiful software products!

Believe it or not, we are actually big UX and UI nerds. We try really hard to not ship a feature that has a poor User Experience or doesn’t look beautiful.

However, I have to admit that it was a bit embarrassing how many basic features were still missing when we launched Refiner.

The most prominent missing feature was definitely a Reporting Dashboard to analyze and visualize the data our customers acquired.

Why we launched a Survey Tool without a Dashboard

One might argue that a survey software without fancy Pie-Charts is not delivering much value. And usually I would agree.

But Refiner is a slightly different kind of survey software …

Refiner is a popup survey tool designed to trigger automations and workflows.

User insights that we capture on behalf of our customers are usually synced to third-party tools (CRMs, Email Automation Software, Analytics tools, …) in real-time.

So we are not a typical survey software where assembling statistics is the main goal (like for example SurveyMonkey, for example).

That being said, other features were just having a much higher priority for our MVP.

"To prove that we were onto something, we needed great looking in-app surveys and a Zapier integration. A fancy reporting dashboard was not on the list of crucial features …" Click To Tweet

In fact, we knew that to prove that we are onto something, we needed only a handful of features working together:

  1. A JavaScript client to launch beautiful Micro-Surveys
  2. An intuitive editor allowing you to quickly create said surveys
  3. A Zapier integration or a Webhooks feature to push collected data to third party-tools

Fancy stats were just not on the list of crucial features. Sorry …

Did launching without a Dashboard matter?

Frankly, no, not really.

Of course, we had users asking for survey analytics tools right from the beginning. And rightfully so. It’s obvious that at some point you’d want to analyze, visualize or export the data you collected through a survey.

This was especially the case for users that were running Net Promoter Score surveys with Refiner. We get it. It’s really frustrating to collect NPS answers and then not seeing your awesome final NPS score.

Whenever a user would ask us where they can find the “our Dashboard”, we needed to admit that the list of survey responses with a poorly implemented timeline is all we had. No Pie-Charts, no Bar-Charts, no Filters, …

Our “Dashboard” on Launch Day: A list of the latest survey responses and a simple timeline chart.

But did it matter much?

Frankly, I don’t think so. As mentioned above, our focus at Refiner is on the “and then what” part of running in-app surveys.

By providing integrations with Zapier, Webhooks and since recently Segment, we always delivered on our core value proposition.

Let me iterate on this. Even though a Reporting Dashboard could be considered a must-have for survey tool, it wasn’t in our case.

And our users agreed with us!

Once they saw the value we delivered by syncing survey responses to third-party tools through our integration options, they were fine with waiting a couple of weeks.

Two months and 50.000 launched popup surveys later …. we have a Dashboard!

So here we are. Three months in and 50.000 launched popups surveys later. If we made it that far, why would we even bother to add a Dashboard now?

The answer is simple – Because it totally makes sense and because it delivers a lot of value to our users.

In fact, providing a Dashboard that allowed in-depth survey data analysis always made sense to us.

It was just not a mission-critical feature of the Refiner we had in mind on launch day. And thus, believe it or not, it wasn’t part of our MVP.

So without further ado, we are happy to present to you our shiny new Survey Data Dashboard.

The new Refiner Dashboard

As you can see, our new Dashboard has all the nice things you would expect. Timeline Charts, NPS charts, Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Filters, more Filters, etc.

Time to dive into your data, surface new insights and connect the dots! 🙌