Data. There’s no shortage of it in today’s world, where every click and action you take online is likely being tracked and recorded. But how do you actually make sense of it all?
If you’re not gleaning valuable insights from your data, then why bother collecting it in the first place? A thoughtfully crafted dashboard or report with the right KPIs and data visualisations is certainly a good place to start.
Data Studio is Google’s answer to a dashboard and report building tool. You can connect to a wide variety of data sources and visualise your data in the form of charts, tables and graphs. It’s a powerful yet user-friendly tool. Utilising its range of features, you can create visually impressive, insightful and interactive dashboards with ease.
It’s all about drawing insight from your data. Whether you have a specific business question to answer, or if you want to monitor website performance, Data Studio gives you the means to do so. Best of all? It’s free to use.
Google Data Studio: An Introduction
We use Data Studio across the vast majority of our clients. And while we understand it can feel daunting at first, you’ll soon get to grips with it and the insightful and exciting visualisations it has to offer.
Below, we take you through the basics - by the end, you should better understand what Data Studio offers and the simplicity of building your own basic report.
Having said that, if you have any questions or want to delve deeper into the complexities of Data Studio and the entire library of insights at your fingertips, then please do get in touch >>>
Connect Your Data
As you might expect, connecting your Google Analytics - yes, even Google Analytics 4 - and Google Ads data to Data Studio is a breeze and can be achieved with just a few clicks. You can even use a Google Sheet as a data source if you want to.
And if you’re looking to report on data from non-Google sources, there’s a healthy library of partner connectors to help. Accessing data from sources such as Salesforce, Bing Ads and LinkedIn, to name only a few, is also straightforward.
Want to build a dashboard that draws on data from multiple sources? No problem - you can add as many data sources to a single report as needed. The origin of your data set shouldn’t be a barrier when using Data Studio.
Building a Dashboard
Overall, Data Studio is intuitive and simple to use, so you shouldn’t run into too much trouble when building a basic report. It’s simply a case of selecting the type of chart or table you desire and clicking on the page where you want it to appear. You can move and resize components by clicking and dragging them.
Once you’re happy with the size and position of the component, you can customise the data it's displaying including metrics, dimensions and date ranges. It’s also possible to add comparisons with other date ranges. All of these options can be accessed by clicking on the component and navigating to the ‘Data’ tab on the right-hand side of the screen.
You’re also able to apply filters across the entire dashboard, a group of components or any individual component. Filters allow you to filter by metrics, dimensions and dates and are created by using if, and/or statements.
For example, you could create a filter that only includes the dimension ‘device type’ when it = ‘mobile’. Applying this filter to a graph of website users over time would result in you only seeing users that accessed the site on a mobile device.
Occasionally, these dashboards get so complex as to make them slow to load and navigate. However, there are ways to speed up your Google Data Studio reports...
Give It Style
There are various styling options available to customise the aesthetics of your reports. You can change the fonts, colours and import images. This makes it easy to reflect brand-specific colour schemes and company logos.
To edit the style of a component, click it and look at the ‘Style’ tab on the right side of the screen.
It helps to get creative when it comes to styling the dashboard itself. For instance, you can use the ability to add shapes to create different sections in your dashboard. Do this by inserting a rectangle, sending it to the background layer, and then arranging data components on top of it.
The benefit of arranging things in this way is that it has the effect of breaking up a single page and creating different sections. There are lots of little tricks like this that you can use to make your reports visually appealing and easier to read.
Have a Go Yourself
Data Studio is free to use and Google offers sample data sources to connect to. This makes it easy to dive in and start practising report building straight away.
The real art of using Data Studio effectively is making sure you represent the data that’s meaningful to you while avoiding unnecessary complexity.
It’s worthwhile taking some time to think about what you actually want your report to show before you get stuck in and start building. Consider what types of visualisations would most effectively uncover the insight that’s hiding within your data.
It can be tempting to keep adding more and more fancy charts or tables, but before you do ask yourself whether they add any value. It might be that it belongs on a different page or on a separate report entirely.
But don’t be afraid to jump in and have a go. It won’t be too long before you’re creating beautiful and informative dashboards that are bound to impress.
With our experience, we’ve seen first-hand how real business decisions have been influenced by insights drawn from Data Studio reports. Having visibility of and a better understanding of your data gives you a huge advantage and makes all that data collection worthwhile.