Save Your Sanity with Google Analytics Dashboards
Are you tired of spending hours in Google Analytics scouring the 100+ Standard Reports to find key business metrics? Do your eyes glaze over at the sight of a time series graph? Are you certain summaries you painstakingly compile for your team never see the light of day? Then it’s time to stage a reporting intervention (and save your sanity) with Google Analytics Dashboards.
So, why do I need dashboards?
The best thing about Google Analytics is that it unlocks massive amounts of real-time data and insights the moment you publish the script on your website. The worst thing about Google Analytics is you now have to sift through (and understand) all of this data, which makes it difficult to find the metrics that matter to you and your business most. That’s where Google Analytics Dashboards can help.
Dashboards are the KonMari for Google Analytics – they let you see only the metrics that spark joy for your website and business. Dashboards are simply a collection of summary widgets, but when implemented properly they let you focus on your goal metrics and block out the rest of the analytic noise that makes it difficult to benchmark performance (and scares your less tech-savvy coworkers away).
Step 1: Tidy-up your KPIs
Google Analytics only lets you include 12 widgets per dashboard, so it’s important that you first list and rank the KPIs (key performance indicators) you want easy access to. Be sure to rank the data outputs that best predict your desired organizational outcomes first.
Next, determine a reporting time frame (month, weeks, quarters, days) you’d like to view each time you look at your metrics. You can customize a dashboard time frame, but widgets themselves can’t have their own date ranges. If some metrics require different time references, consider building more than one dashboard.
Step 2: Launch your dashboard
First, open Google Analytics for your website’s account. On the left-hand navigation bar, you’ll see a section called Customization. Expand the Customization, click on the Dashboard subsection, then click the red “Create” button near the top of the page.
Next, choose whether you want a Blank Canvas or a Starter Dashboard (which includes common website metrics reports – great for beginners) Finally, give your dashboard a title and click Create Dashboard.
Now it’s time to add (or edit if you choose a Starter Dashboard) widgets that will report on your website’s key metrics. To create a new widget, click on the Add Widget button on the top left of the page, and to edit an existing widget, hover your cursor over a widget title and click on the pen icon that appears. This will open your widget settings where you can customize the display method and metrics that the widgets will use.
Next, give your widget a title and then choose your display method and metric. You may want to play around with your options until you find a display and metric combination that shows your data best. You can also use the “Compare and Filter” option to include or exclude Dimension data. You can find a full list of metrics and filter options here. Be sure to save your widget settings when you’re done customizing.
Repeat this step until you’ve created all of the widgets you need (or if you hit your 12 widget limit). You can delete widgets by clicking on the title and then the X button on the right side of the widget. Creating several similar widgets? Google also lets you save time by cloning existing widgets.
Step 4: Arrange your dashboard
Click on “Customize Dashboard” to change the number and width of your widget columns. Then drag and drop your widgets into the order that makes the most sense for your dashboard.
How can I share my dashboards?
Google Analytics lets you send automated emails with your dashboards to others and export the data as a PDF, but the best feature is its handy Share option. Here, you can choose to send the share the dashboard as an object so other members with access to your Google Analytics account can view the reporting. If you want to use the dashboard widget settings (not your actual website data) on another property, you can share a template link, and you can even submit your handiwork to Google’s Solution Gallery, a community repository of dashboards created by the Google community.
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