Google Analytics Dashboards allow you to understand key aspects of your analytics data at a glance, in one single report. Since dashboards can be customised, you can use them to report on the data and information that is most important to your role or organisation. For marketers, this might be a dashboard that shows the performance of marketing campaigns, while web developers might want to understand performance for technical aspects of their company’s website and mobile apps.
You might just need a single dashboard or even multiple dashboards depending on your role. You could create a single dashboard for your most important reporting needs, or you might need multiple dashboards, each with their own particular reporting focus. When you begin creating dashboards, it is important to tie them to particular business questions you are trying to ask. Typically you will want a dashboard to focus on a particular role or area of your organisation.
Dashboards are made up of different widgets. You can think of a widget as a way to display a piece of information or data from Google Analytics. Although widgets contain information and data from the standard and custom reports, they are designed to give you a top-level view to help spur your analysis. In essence, you should think of your dashboards as starting points to understand overall health and performance. When you identify something in a dashboard you will typically want to then jump into the full report for more detailed analysis.
Widgets include ‘standard’ and ‘real-time’ options. A standard widget is one that presents historical data (data that has already been processed), which you see in your standard and custom reports. The real-time widgets allow you to include live analytics data from people who are currently on your site. In most cases you will want to focus on the standard widgets, however if you are a larger scale site you might also want to create real-time dashboards. It’s important to remember that if you schedule your dashboards to email out on a regular basis, like every month, then the real-time widgets won’t be included in that scheduled email.
Standard Dashboard Widgets
The metric widget allows you to present a single piece of information on your dashboard along with a small sparkline. For example, if you want to see the total number of visits you would use the ‘metric’ widget.
The timeline widget gives you a more detailed sparkline to show the trends for the particular date range. You can use this widget to show a single metric or compare two metrics. For example, if you wanted to compare your visit and conversion rate trend, you would use the ‘timeline’ widget.
The geomap widget allows you to display a map within your dashboard. You can use this widget to show anything from visits from particular geographic locations, through to areas with higher engagement or even conversion rates.
The table widget allows you to present a simple table that combines information (a dimension) with up to two metrics. For example, if you wanted to display your top 10 landing pages along with their number of pageviews and bounce rate, you would use the ‘table’ widget.
The pie widget is used to present a pie or doughnut chart and it useful for visual comparisons. For example, if you want to compare different marketing channels by visits you could use the ‘pie’ widget.
The bar widget is also useful for presenting comparisons. For example, if you wanted to present the different mobile devices people used to access your site you could use the ‘bar’ widget. This widget also allows you to pivot by an additional dimension, switch between horizontal and vertical charts and further customise the widget.
Each widget on your dashboard can also have a filter applied. This enables you to focus the widget on particular data or information. For example, if you created a widget where you applied filters to online include ‘google’ as the source and ‘cpc’ as the medium, your widget would only present details for your Google AdWords paid search campaigns.
You can add filters to narrow down the focus of your dashboard for any number of purposes. You might want a dashboard just about a particular email newsletter campaign, your social media traffic, or even to only include people on their mobile devices. Since widget filters don’t permanently modify any data, you can get creative and you can always edit the filter if it doesn’t give you exactly what you want.
We have created a number of dashboards that are available in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. You can add these preconfigured dashboards straight into your Google Analytics reporting views and you can also customise them to meet your individual needs.
Posted by Benjamin Mangold