Google Analytics Dashboard Tutorial

Dashboards play an important role in assessing the performance of your website, website users and how the users behave with the content you provide.

While Google Analytics has its own user interface where you can find different metrics and dimensions, it is still time-consuming and overwhelming when you are only interested in the data that you need. If you want to visualize important data at a glance, instead of going through hundreds or even thousands of rows of the data, then you need a dashboard.

Through Google Analytics dashboards you can view all your key performance indicators (KPI) at a glance. You can also share these dashboards with other colleague and collaborate in a hassle-free way.

What are Google Analytics dashboards?

Google Analytics dashboards are a collection of widgets which take data from reports to give you a visual overview of key performing indicators (KPI).

A Google Analytics dashboard allows you to focus on multiple metrics and dimensions from different reports in one single location. You can also use a Google Analytics dashboard to see the trends in the metrics over a long period of time and quickly check the health of your website.

Long story short, a Google Analytics dashboard allow you to simplify data into smaller visualization buckets using widgets. You can have up to 20 dashboards, with 12 widgets in each, for each view/property in your Google Analytics account. Each view/property includes a default dashboard to get you started.

What are widgets in a Google Analytics dashboard?

A widget is a mini-report which displays your data in various presentation styles, including simple numeric metrics, tables and graphs.

You can define widgets within the dashboard itself. A dashboard can have one or more widgets displaying different metrics and dimensions.

Two types of widgets are available in Google Analytics

Standard widgets

Standard widgets show you processed data in Google Analytics, and it gets updated when you change the date range or refresh the page.

Following are standard widgets available in Google Analytics Dashboard

  • Metric: Displays a simple numeric number of a single selected metric.
  • Timeline: Displays a graph of the selected metric over time.
  • Geomap: Displays a map of the selected region, with the specified metric plotted on the map.
  • Table: Displays up to two metrics describing the selected dimension, laid out in tabular format.
  • Pie: Displays a pie chart of the selected metric grouped by a dimension.
  • Bar: displays a bar chart of the selected metric grouped by up to two dimensions.

Real-time widgets

Real-time widgets can display data in real-time. These widgets update the metrics automatically for active users on the website. Real-time widgets can display only the Active Users or Pageviews metrics, depending on the widget.

Following are the real-time widgets available

  • Counter: displays a count of the active users on your site. You can optionally group these users by a selected dimension.
  • Timeline: displays a timeline graph of pageviews on your site for the last 30 minutes or last 60 seconds.
  • Geomap: Displays a map showing where your active users are coming from. You have the option to choose to show active users by countries or cities.
  • Table: plots a table of your active users against up to three selected dimensions.

How to create a Google Analytics dashboard

Before we begin to create a new dashboard, please note that you should have at least read-only access to any of the Google Analytics properties and views.

Follow the steps below to start building a dashboard.

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics console

Step-2: In the left-hand navigation menu, click on ‘Customization’ and then click on ‘Dashboard’.

A new menu will open up like below. Click on ‘Create’

Step-3: Once you click on ‘Create’, a pop up will prompt with two options: Blank Canvas and Starter Dashboard.

The blank canvas option will give you completely empty page where you can decide which widgets to add and also you are free to use any metrics.

The starter dashboard will come up with a predefined set of widgets such as bounce rate, user overview, goal completion, etc.

In this tutorial, we are going to use a blank canvas. As the name suggests it is completely empty and we can add widgets as per our choice along with key performing indicators.

Step-4: Click on ‘Blank Canvas’. Give your dashboard a descriptive name which will give you an idea about what this dashboard will show. Then hit the ‘Create dashboard’ button.

You will also be able to see the ‘Import from gallery’ option next to ‘Create dashboard’. We will talk about this option later in this article.

Once you click on ‘Create dashboard’, you will get a pop up like below to add a widget.

Step-5: Give a descriptive name to your widget so that you will know what information it will show in the dashboard. Let’s suppose you would like to see which device categories are most used by users in the United Kingdom.

Step-6: Now select a widget type from available widget type. In our case, we will use the pie widget so that I will get a visual representation showing users with different device category.

Step-7: Next step will be adding a metric to the widget. Click on ‘Add a metric’.

Step-8: Type the metric name in the pop-up and once you see the required metric, just click on the metric to select. In our case, we will select User

Step-9: Click on ‘Grouped by’ to select a dimension for the widget.

Step-10: Type the dimension name in the pop-up and once you see the required dimension just click on it to select it. In our case we want to have a look at users with different device category, so we will select the ‘Device category’ dimension.

Step-11: You have the option to select the number of slices for the pie chart. You can change it based on your dimension parameters. In our case there are three types of devices generally used like desktop, mobile and tablet. We will keep the number of slices to three.

You will also get the option to use a donut chart if needed by selecting the checkbox next to it.

Step-12: You can add a filter as well if you want to narrow down the data set to specific parameters. Click on ‘Add a filter’ and you will get a screen like below.

You can filter data into two types:

  1. Only show: will only show data for the selected dimension.
  2. Don’t show: will exclude selected dimension data.

Step-13: Click on ‘Add dimension’, in our case we would like to see users from the United Kingdom so we will select Country as the dimension and filter type as exactly matching ‘UK’.

Note: You can add multiple filters as well.

Step-14: You can link the widget to a report or a URL. To link to a report, begin typing a report name. Google Analytics will autocomplete your entry, trying to match it to an existing report.

Step-15: Your complete screen will look like the one below. Click on ‘Save’ to add the widget to the dashboard.

Congratulations, you have added your first widget to the dashboard.

Similarly, you can follow the above steps to add other widgets in a single dashboard. Keep in mind that you can only add up to 12 widgets in a single dashboard so plan your widgets and metrics carefully. If you try to add more than 12 widgets you will get the following warning.

Dashboard customization

You can change the dashboard layout if you are not satisfied with the current arrangement of widgets. Click on ‘Customize dashboard’ in the upper right corner.

You will get the layout options as below. Select the layout which suits your needs and click on ‘Save’.

You can also change the position of the widgets in your dashboard. Just hover over the title of any widget and you can move it to the desired position.

Dashboard sharing and export

When your dashboard is ready you can share it with your colleagues and collaborate with them.

Keep in mind that Google Analytics dashboards are private to your account only unless you share it with others.

You have multiple options to share your dashboard which can be used in other accounts and properties as well.

Option 1: Share a dashboard in the current view

When your dashboard is ready you can create a copy of it to share with other users. It is best practice to copy the dashboard because when you share the dashboard, anyone with access to the current view can see the dashboard’s data and add to or edit any widgets contained in the dashboard. There is no read-only option available for dashboards.

Note: You must have edit permission for the current view to share dashboards and data.

You can share a dashboard in the current view by clicking on the ‘Share’ link above the dashboard and then click on ‘Share object’.

Once you click on ‘Share object’, a copy of the dashboard will be available to all the users who have access to the current view.

Option 2: Share a dashboard for other analytics accounts and views

You can also share the dashboard with different analytics accounts. Sharing a dashboard to another account or view will just share the dashboard and widget settings and not the data. Click on the ‘Share’ link above the dashboard and then click on the ‘Share template link’.

You will get a pop up like below, which has the URL for the dashboard template.

Option 3: Share dashboards in the Solutions Gallery

Google has its own Solutions Gallery, a common solution portal where you can share and import custom reporting tools and assets like dashboards and analytics segments.

You have the option to share your dashboard to the Solutions Gallery. Keep in mind that when you share your dashboard in Solutions Gallery, your personal information and data stays private and only the dashboard settings are shared.

Click on the ‘Share’ link above the dashboard and then click on ‘Share in Solutions Gallery’.

Option 4: Share a dashboard via email

If you want to share your dashboard report to a wider audience in the organization or to your colleagues, you can also share it via email. Click on ‘Email’ above the dashboard to share it.

You will get a pop up like the one below where you can also set its frequency and timing using the advanced options. Click on ‘Send’ to start sharing.

Option 5: Export dashboard as a PDF

The export as PDF option saves a copy of your current dashboard, exactly as it appears on the screen, to a PDF file.

Click on ‘Export’ above the dashboard and then click on ‘PDF’.

Dashboard import

Just like sharing a dashboard, you can also import a dashboard to your Google Analytics account. There are two ways to import a dashboard:

  • Import via dashboard template link: When anyone shares a dashboard with the share template link, a URL is generated. If you enter the URL in your browser, you will get a pop up like the one below where you can select the Google Analytics view for which you want to import the dashboard. You can also give a name to the imported dashboard.

  • Import from Solutions Gallery: As mentioned above, Solutions Gallery is a common platform to share resources like Google Analytics segments and dashboards. You can import from a variety of dashboards available on Solutions Gallery. All the dashboards available on Solutions Gallery are created by different users.

When you import any dashboard from the gallery you just import the dashboard settings and not the data. You can filter dashboards by type, ranking and category.

Click on ‘Import’ and the dashboard will automatically be available in the Google Analytics dashboard menu.

Top 10 dashboard samples

Following are the top 10 dashboards shared on Solutions Gallery

  1. Engagement & Loyalty Dashboard, Traffic Growth Dashboard: By Cemal Buyukgokcesu
  2. Occam’s Razor Awesomeness: Executive Dashboard: By Avinash Kaushik
  3. Audience Snapshot [Dashboard]: By Loves Data
  4. Goals and Channels Dashboard: By Paul Fervoy
  5. Responsive Design, Mobile Phone and Tablet Dashboard: By Andrew Faulkner
  6. New Google Analytics User Starter Bundle: By The Google Analytics Team
  7. Ecommerce Dashboard: By Blast Analytics & Marketing
  8. Social Media Dashboard: By Justin Cutroni
  9. SEO Dashboard – Finding Top Content and Keywords: By Kevin Pike
  10. Content Analysis Dashboard: By Vagelis Varfis | Nudge Digital

If you want to check out more dashboards you can visit Google’s Solution Gallery

Limitations to Google Analytics dashboards

Google Analytics dashboards are great tools for visualization but they come with some limitations and constraints.

  • Each Google Analytics view can contain up to 20 dashboards per user.
  • Each Google Analytics account can contain up to 50 shared dashboards per view.
  • Each Dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets.
  • A user must have edit permission to share dashboards and data with the current view.
  • Users with read-only permission can still share dashboard templates via a link or via the Solutions Gallery.
  • Table widgets cannot have more than two metrics.
  • Comparison with previous periods is not possible.

Alternatives to Google Analytics dashboards

With all the above limitations, Google Analytics dashboards restrict you to use the dynamic reporting features in the standard GA interface. That’s where the concept of Google Data Studio comes into the picture.

Google Data Studio is the advanced version of Google Analytics dashboards which offers full control over customization of reports and charts. You can add as many pages, charts and widgets as you want. Also, there is no restriction on the number of dimensions and metrics used (depending on type of chart or table).

In the case that you want to measure performance from multiple properties and views, you can connect them in a single dashboard. You can connect Google Data Studio with multiple data sources (including third-party sources) and collect and combine data into one single report.

To know more about Google Data Studio read: Google Data Studio Tutorial – 2020.

Google Analytics dashboards FAQ

How can I delete a Google Analytics dashboard?

You can delete a dashboard entirely by clicking the ‘Delete dashboard’ link on right side of the page, below the date picker.

How can I import a Google Analytics dashboard?

You can import a Google Analytics dashboard either by a template URL shared with you or you can visit the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery where you can find a large collection of dashboards.

How do I create a dashboard in Google Analytics?

To create a dashboard: Sign in to Google Analytics >> Navigate to your view >> Click ‘Customization’ > ‘Dashboards’ >> ‘Create’. The next steps are fairly simple and self-explanatory.

How many dashboards can I create in Google Analytics?

You can create up to 20 dashboards per user in a single view and each analytics account can contain up to 50 shared dashboards per view.

What types of dashboards can I create in Google Analytics?

You can create the following type of dashboards:

  • Acquisition
  • Branding
  • Campaign
  • Conversion
  • Display Advertising
  • Ecommerce
  • Engagement
  • Enhanced Ecommerce
  • Lead Generation
  • Mobile
  • Organic Search
  • Paid Search
  • Publishing
  • Referral
  • Site Optimization
  • Social

Summary

Google Analytics dashboards give you the great ability to visualize your key performing indicators (KPI metrics and dimensions) of a website at one glance.

You can create your custom dashboard or import it via template URL or Google Solutions Gallery. You can share dashboards with others using multiple options available.

With its limitations on the number of widgets, it is not possible to get a complete overview of all metrics, however, if used well, it can save you a lot of time and effort to check trends in your important metrics and dimensions.

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

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