“I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes stories
What are Google Analytics Dashboards?
As an experienced Google Analytics user, you may be capable of finding any piece of data that Analytics has to offer, but have you ever used or even thought about using Dashboards?
Located at the top of the left sidebar menu, Analytics Dashboards provide quick overviews of how your website(s) is performing. Displaying summaries of different reports on a single page (in the form of widgets), Dashboards allow you to monitor and track many metrics at once.
Each account you have with Analytics comes preloaded with a default Dashboard, however this can be easily customised to your liking. In total you can create up to 20 dashboards containing up to 12 widgets each.
More information about Dashboards can be found on the Official Google Help page here.
The beauty of using Dashboards is that they are full customisable. You can choose to either start with a blank canvas or an already prepared default setup.
From here, you can start to add or edit widgets, and the possibilities are endless. Widgets can take the form of metrics, pie charts, timelines or tables. Choosing your desired dimensions and metrics allows you to further hone in and see the exact data that applies to what you need for your website.
(FAQ: What is the difference between dimensions and metrics? Dimensions describe the data whereas metrics actually measure it. For example, the country of Australia [dimension] has a population of 22.7 million [metric]. A full explanation of dimensions and metrics can be found here.)
Filters can be applied to further refine sets of data, enabling you to segment your Dashboard in such a way that all your data is organised the way you want it.
In the top right hand corner of each widget is the ability to edit or delete it entirely.
Further information about creating and editing Dashboards is available here.
Key Uses and Features of Dashboards
Dashboards have a few extra handy features aside from just displaying widgets. Below the time frame setting, “Customise Dashboard” can be used to select the layout of your Dashboard. This rearranges the widgets the way you want them, making your important data larger and changing the overall visuals of the Dashboard.
The ability of Dashboards to provide summarised data isn’t restricted to the Analytics webpage. Two popular uses of Dashboards are the ability to export data (in PDF format) and email your Dashboard to recipients of your choice. What is even more useful is the ability to setup an emailing schedule such that Google Analytics will actually send your Dashboard report via email on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). This can be very useful for personal access or even to maintain regular contact with clients.
Key Benefits of Dashboards
Google Analytics Dashboards, as discussed, are relatively simple to setup and can provide a large amount of valuable information in a small amount of space. Creating Dashboards for your website can be useful for filtering out any unwanted metrics and essentially only seeing what you want (and more importantly need) to see.
The use of Dashboards is both time and effort saving. Rather than navigating through the complex set of drop down menus of Google Analytics, a single click on your fully customised Dashboard will instantly reveal all the relevant data to your eyes. As such, companies and websites can reduce the amount of time spent looking for the data, and more time spent interpreting and acting on the data – essentially increasing efficiency.
Next Steps – Putting the Data to Work
Dashboards provide insightful data to the user. However it is not enough to simply look at the data. Ultimately what really matters most is putting it to use. Examining data and looking at the trends presented in the Google Analytics dashboard is fruitless without taking action. Using the data to improve your website and increase traffic is the prime objective and if done correctly can have a major impact on your website.
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Disclaimer: This article was produced as part of a learning initiative for our graduate program. The tips and facts presented are not necessarily shared by roi.com.au