Dashboarding — all day every day
I’m a dashboard guy. Somehow it has become my “thing”. It wasn’t really intentional, it just sort of…happened.
Over the last few months I’ve realized that GDS solves some very real problems. Lee Hurst (over at Helpfullee) said it best:
There are many areas where Data Studio is not top of the class: Tableau can create more professional visualizations, Clickview has more drill-down capabilities, PowerBI may be better for intricate analysis…But there are no options that have the same combination of ease of access, the simplicity of use, flexibility, and sharing options that Data Studio has
-Lee Hurst, Helpfullee.com
It took two days to build my first GDS dashboard.
Get Started Creating A Brand New Report
Making your first report is easy, especially if you already using other tools on Google Suite. Let’s assume you have one of the following already:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Sheets
They make it so easy. Just click one of the templates, or create a new blank report (that’s the big + symbol you see in the picture above).
Now you’ve got your first report started. You’ll need to add a data source to get started. Click the “+ CREATE NEW DATA SOURCE” button on the bottom right.
For this example we’ll be adding Google Analytics Data. Scroll down until you see Google Analytics and click “Select”
You may need to authenticate your account, but the process is easy. You’ll hit “CONNECT” in the upper right and be ready to go.
You’ll now have a blank report and you’re ready to start adding charts. I like to adjust my Layout and Theme first. This is really just changing the report size and the default colors. You can do this on the right.
Then I think the easiest way to start is choosing any of the chart icons at the top of the page and adding it to your page.
You can see here that we have line charts, bar charts, combination charts, pie charts, tables, geo charts, scorecards, etc.
I’ll select combo, and add it to my report.
I just click and drag on the report to make a box. That box is where the chart will be added.
You can then change the data shown in the chart and update the chart style on the right of the page.
Try out a few different “Dimensions” (these are basically an attribute of your data, like the city, device type or source of traffic). Then try out a few metrics (these are various important numbers, like total visits to your site, or the percentage of people that convert).
Try this out with a few different charts. Before you know it you’ll get the hang of things.
But, you probably want your charts to look great too, right? That’s what the “STYLE” tab is for.
My #1 piece of advice for making really cool charts: use a transparent background, and only adjust the colors of the text/axes/graphs to match your background.
So start by building up the shapes you want in the background. This is just like using powerpoint. Select the shape in the header. Then adjust the color and layer up
In this example I start with a few purple and black rectangles, adjust the transparency and stack them on top of each other. This example is made entirely of rectangles.
Then I create a chart and scorecard with transparent backgrounds and set them on top.
On almost all of my reports I block out my overall design with rectangles and then build up my charts over them.
Take some time to practice. Play around with the shape tools. Try inserting an image. See how much is possible with just a handful of simple shapes and png/svg images… I promise you can do A LOT!
If you need some help, feel free to email me: cottrellconsultancy (at) g mail (dot) com. I’d be happy to help you get started. You can also see my portfolio here.