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How Google Analytics Dashboards Take Your Reports to the Next Level

Claudio Dominguez

10 years ago



We all know that Google Analytics is extremely useful in providing insights of what areas of your website need to be improved.

Analytics also allows you to optimize traffic channels (AdWords traffic, Organic traffic, Referral traffic, etc.).

The only problem with all this metric viewing is that some people may get lost when browsing through all the tabs, views and reports options that Analytics provides. To make matters simple we have the option to use Dashboards on Google Analytics.

What Are Dashboards on Google Analytics?

Dashboards are an easy way to get an overview of your accounts and their specific performance. This is done through a series of widgets that take data from reports, and displays it all in one single page.

This allows you to monitor multiple metrics at once. You can do this with historical performance or even with real-time metrics.

Think of it like a quick check of your Analytics accounts’ performance, more specifically properties or even views.

How to Use/Build a Dashboard on Google Analytics

It is very easy to get started with Dashboards. You just need to click on “Dashboards” on the left side of the screen when you are on the “Reporting” tab of Analytics.

Once you click on it, you will have the option to either view the Starter Dashboard that your account has or to create a new one.

The starter report is referred to as “My Dashboard”. It will showcase information about all and new users’ sessions, geographic information displayed on a map, sessions by browser, average session duration, bounce rate, goal completions, and revenue, if they are available.

However, you aren’t limited to just this starter Dashboard. We’ll get more in detail of how to edit this one and how to create your own custom Dashboard in just a bit.

1. How Can You Benefit from Using Dashboards?

Pretty much anyone who is already using Analytics can benefit from using Dashboards to analyze either traffic channels or website performance.

  •  Experienced users can use them to create quick reports to follow specific metrics.
  • Advertising Agencies can use them for the same purpose or to showcase easy-to-browse reports for their clients and users.
  • Other users without much experience in Analytics can use them to get all the information they need without having to dwell too much in all the reports Analytics has available.

2. Creating Your Own Dashboard 

If you want to review more than just the information that the starter Dashboard provides, you can easily modify it by adding more widgets or replacing the ones that it already has. But the better option will be to create your own Dashboard. Let me explain how to accomplish that:

Using the Starter Dashboard 

When creating your first Dashboard, it will be easier to begin with the starter one. When creating a new Dashboard if you select the Starter Dashboard option, you will be presented with the exact same Dashboard you find on “Private”. So it is easier to just go here and edit the widgets.

To edit or delete a widget, just scroll your mouse over it and select the desired option.

Deleting it will make it go away, and you will be able to add a new one, and editing will take you to the available metrics and graph options.

There, you will be able to change what metric you are displaying and how you are displaying it.

Modifying the starter Dashboard is an easy way to set up your first Dashboard, but you can just use a Blank Canvas if you want to build something from zero.

Using a Blank Canvas 

Using a Blank Canvas will allow you to be more creative with the metrics that you want to show and how you want to show them. To do this, just select the option on the left when creating a new Dashboard.

After creating your Blank Canvas, you will just need to add your widgets. To do this, select your desired Graph option, metric and even filter. Here’s an easy example of a widget showcasing transactions coming from ecommerce tracking in a geomap of just the Americas:

The final widget will look like this:

You can even make more elaborate reports depending on what you need. For instance, this is a widget of New Users coming from all traffic channels, showcased as a pie chart and excluding traffic from Organic search:

The final graph will look like this:

3. Scenarios Where a Dashboard Can Be Helpful

There are different reasons to use Dashboards to make reporting easier. However, the two I use more often are the following:

a. Following Specific Metrics 

If there is a metric that’s particularly more important to you than any other, then you can use a Dashboard that compares this metric to pretty much anything else.

For instance, if you need to follow transactions, then you could see where are they coming from by country, traffic source, social media channel and how they compare against your total amount of sessions. Just like this:

Clustering Assorted Views in One for a Specific Traffic Channel

Similar to the previous case, you could concentrate on one specific traffic channel instead of one specific metric. Let’s say you want to see everything regarding your AdWords traffic (total sessions, new sessions, transactions, and bounce rate). Then you could easily do it and get something like this:

4. Sharing Your Dashboard with Others

If you need to share the template you created with others, so that they can easily create the same setup to view their accounts, you can easily do it by just sending them a link. You will see the option to share and generate a link to the template inside your Dashboard:

6. Accessing Already Created Dashboards

Thanks to this easy sharing functionality, there are several Dashboards already being shared by experts in the matter. Using these will help you set up or create your own Dashboards faster. The best solutions for shared Dashboards are the following:

a. Dashboards Found on Analytics Library 

When creating a new Dashboard, you can select to import it from Google Analytics Library. Here you will find a lot of “approved” Dashboards that will make your life easier.

Here you will be able to browse through Shared Dashboards, filter them based on your needs, and even see ratings and comments.

b. Popular Dashboards Found Elsewhere

Outside of the Analytics’ Gallery, there are other websites that offer Dashboards that you can easily import to your Account. From the ones I have browsed through and used, I have found Dashboard Junkie to be one of the best.


Analyzing Your Data Doesn’t Have to Be a Painful Process

Dashboards are just what you need to easily review important metrics, to showcase specific information to superiors, peers or even clients, to generate automatic reports that will be very visual instead of reports filled with numbers, and for many more things.

Dashboards should be used by Analytics’ users with little experience and by those with a lot of experience with the platform, but mostly by the latter. You can really create awesome reports that will be visually appealing and easy to understand. These can make your life easier and save you a lot of time when analyzing data for important decisions.