Google Analytics dashboard

Google Analytics Dashboard

There is a large number of tools that can be used to build Google Analytics dashboards.

Dashboards can be configured inside the Google Analytics interface.

Each dashboard can have up to 12 different widgets. Filters can be applied to widgets in order to display only information of a specific type.

This is a fast way to create a basic dashboard, but it is very limited in its functionality and features.

Here are the limitations of Google Analytics dashboards:

  •      The color and graphic style cannot be changed.
  •      The layout is not mobile friendly.
  •      Logos and custom information cannot be added to the dashboard
  •      Comments cannot be added to widgets.
  •      The names of metrics and dimensions cannot be changed to make them clearer.
  •      Calculations cannot be applied to metrics.
  •      Each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets and no more.
  •      On each table chart, a maximum of one dimension and two metrics can be displayed.
  •      It is not possible to display two types of events in one table chart.
  •      There is a limited number of charts that can be used (i.e., stacked bar charts, scatterplots, area charts, spider charts, etc. are missing).
  •      Funnels cannot be displayed on the dashboards.
  •      The dashboard cannot be shared with non-authorized users (one can only download it and send it as a PDF).

Another more extended and very popular tool for dashboarding from Google is Google Data Studio. It is quite new and easy to use. Google Data Studio takes data from a number of different sources including Google Analytics and makes it possible to create multi-page documents that visualize data in a custom way. Google Data Studio is not limited by the number of widgets per page in most cases (there is a limitation that only one pivot table can be present on the page), reports can be branded, images can be added, the color and style of any chart or table may be changed and so on.

However, it also has some limitations:

  •      It is not supported on mobile.
  •      There is no easy way to visualize funnels.
  •      It does not support Google Analytics segments.
  •      It does not support Google Analytics real-time data.
  •      PDF export for multi-page reports is not automated (you need to print each page in a separate file and combine them manually).
  •      There is a limited number of charts that can be used (i.e., spider charts, speed charts, etc. are missing).
  •      Reaggregation of metrics is not supported.
  •      If many calculations are used in the reports, the reports may work slowly.
  •      Data from different traffic sources cannot be displayed on the same widget.

There is also a large number of dashboarding tools that use the Google Analytics reporting API to query the data and display it in a customized way. The most popular are Klipfolio, Geckoboard, Dasheroo and DashThis. Most of them offer a limited free version and a more advanced paid version.

The tool that I like to use for Google Analytics data analysis is the Google Analytics Sheets add-on for the Chrome browser: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-analytics/fefimfimnhjjkomigakinmjileehfopp

This add-on makes it possible to extract data from Google Analytics and use Google Sheets to create customizable charts and other forms of data visualization. The plugin can be scheduled to run the Google Analytics data periodically so the reports are updated. Google scripts can be used to email these reports on a regular if required. It is also possible to embed charts from Google Sheets into Google Slides in order to create presentations that display real data.

The Google Analytics reporting API may also be used to create any kind of custom report on an  HTML page. However, this requires knowledge of CSS, HTML and JavaScript along with quite a lot of programming work, so this approach should be used only if a very specific layout is required.

 

How do I customize my dashboard on Google Analytics?

Google Analytics allows you to create custom dashboards within the Google Analytics interface. Currently, this is not the most popular method of creating dashboards, as more advanced dashboards can be created in Google Data Studio, which is a new Google product that can be linked to Google Analytics and offers more options for displaying the data than Google Analytics.

Google Analytics’ built-in dashboards have a number of limitations:

  • The color and graphic style cannot be changed.
  • The layout is not mobile friendly.
  • Logos and other custom information cannot be added to the dashboard.
  • Comments cannot be added to widgets.
  • The names of metrics and dimensions cannot be changed to make them clearer.
  • Calculations cannot be applied to metrics.
  • Each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets and no more.
  • On each table chart, a maximum of one dimension and two metrics can be displayed.
  • It is not possible to display two types of events in one table chart.
  • There is a limited number of charts that can be used (i.e., stacked bar charts, scatterplots, area charts, spider charts, etc. are missing).
  • Funnels cannot be displayed on the dashboards.
  • The dashboard cannot be shared with non-authorized users (one can only download and send it as a PDF).

However, if these limitations do not apply to you, and you need a tool to quickly configure a Google Analytics dashboard, you can choose to use the built-in features.

To create a new dashboard in Google Analytics, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to CUSTOMIZATION > Dashboards.
  2. Click “+New Dashboard.”
  3. In the “Create Dashboard” dialog, select either “Blank Canvas” (no widgets) or “Starter Dashboard” (default set of widgets).
  4. Create the dashboard pane.
  5. Give your dashboard a descriptive title; then click “Create Dashboard.”

You can choose the layout of your dashboard and add a number of different widgets to it (e.g., metric, timeline, geomap, table, pie, bar, etc.). It is possible to have up to 12 widgets per dashboard. Each of the widgets can be connected to a report in Google Analytics. This way, you can create a custom dashboard within one to two hours.

Still, there is an even faster way to create a dashboard. There are some good dashboards available in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.

If you click “Import from Gallery,” you will be redirected to the Solutions Gallery, where you can find preconfigured dashboards that best suit your needs.

After you have imported a dashboard from the Solutions Gallery you can customize or delete widgets that you do not like.

Once configured, you can share the dashboard with other Google Analytics account users, share the template using the link or in the Solutions Gallery, email the dashboard or export it in PDF.

You can apply different segments to your dashboard and compare their performance.

When you share the dashboard using the link or in the Solutions Gallery, you only share its configuration, not the data. If you want someone to see the exact same data as you see on your dashboard, you need to make sure that the person is not only looking at the same dashboard as you, but also that the same view, time period and segment are being used.

More information about configuring the dashboards in Google Analytics can be found here.

 

What key metrics should be on my Google Analytics dashboard?

The key metrics that should be present on a Google Analytics dashboard vary from business to business and even within the same business depending on who will be using the dashboard and what information he/she needs to get out of it.

For content-heavy sites and SEO-oriented marketers, it is most important to see the number of entries and bounces per landing page. Landing page titles can provide insights about the keywords that bring valuable traffic and help identify topics for new content. The average time spent on a page, number of pages per session, number of sessions per user and other metrics that measure how users interact with the site’s content and illustrate retention are the most valuable metrics for such businesses. Here is a sample dashboard for a content-heavy site.

Ecommerce businesses normally focus on monetary metrics, such as revenue per traffic source, average order value, cost per acquisition and cost per purchase, ROAS and so on. Here is a sample dashboard for an ecommerce site built on top of the Google Analytics enhanced ecommerce data.

It is good to have a measurement plan in front of you when building your dashboard as it will help you to stay focused on important KPIs.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when developing a dashboard is going too deep into the details on general overview dashboards and losing focus. The dashboard should be kept as clean as possible and display the minimum number of metrics possible. For example, if this is a dashboard for a company’s CEO, I showcase trends of sessions, conversion rates and revenue. I display the same metrics per traffic channel and compare them with the previous period. This should be enough to understand at the general level if the site is performing well and gaining or losing an audience. For marketers, I create something more detailed, with multiple pages. Tables are used to show the following metrics at campaign level: impressions, clicks, CTR, bounces, conversion rate, revenue, cost, ROAS and so on.

Keep in mind that dashboards are built mostly for ongoing monitoring of performance. If you have specific questions or need particular insights from the data, it is best to analyze the data in Google Analytics using segments, filters, custom reports and so on, or use the API to extract and explore it. Insights come from answers to correct questions. Dashboards are not made to answer questions—they are made to monitor performance.

 

Are there dashboard templates for Google Analytics?

There are a number of places where one can find dashboard templates for Google Analytics. If you need templates to use directly in Google Analytics, the best place to find them is in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. There, you can use the search feature to browse through templates that are popular and useful.

If you use Google Data Studio for data visualization, you will find that it has its own gallery of templates: https://datastudiogallery.appspot.com/. Many of them are configured for Google Analytics; however, templates for other data sources are available as well.

My public templates are available for use by anyone—see my template for a content-heavy site: https://datastudio.google.com/open/0ByoVlvHNV0xOaXY5ZFZ3SjJVRUU

and for an ecommerce site: https://datastudio.google.com/open/0ByoVlvHNV0xOcDc2VldhZG5tdEk

 

I have also created publicly accessible templates for Google Sheets:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Wifazi7hka1ZX9N1KyZ-giTDlMdUbkYJwmaCvJCdL3g/edit?usp=sharing

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14yboBuLyKECwgEi81MJcolq0p9rcV4ZbcY6MUpK8nCE/edit?usp=sharing

Klipfolio also offers templates for Google Analytics: https://www.klipfolio.com/gallery.

Geckoboard shares sample dashboard here: https://www.geckoboard.com/learn/dashboard-examples/. On DashThis and Dasheroo, you can choose templates once you have an account in their system. In fact, most of the tools that are used to create Google Analytics dashboards offer their own template gallery.

 

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