Amalgamated Analytics: Bridging the Data Divide in Google Analytics with Dashboards
The updated dashboard features are a welcome addition to Google Analytics (GA), and are a game-changer for the analytics industry. The ease of creating, updating, and interpreting these dashboards is unrivaled by most web analytics tools. When I think about these dashboards, three words often come to mind: easy, comprehensive, and AWESOME.
Before these dashboards, I would have to visit multiple reports in GA to find the data that I wanted, or I would have to export all of the data to Excel and build my own dashboard there. Extra organization and effort was a necessary evil just to get all my desired metrics in one place. Having an effective dashboard creation tool in GA has really helped simplify my role as an analyst.
Below is an example social media dashboard that we use for our main site, http://isitedesign.com:
This dashboard is similar to other examples that you may come across that follow a simple 3-point guiding principle for dashboard design. The concept goes by many names, but one of the most popular is the “Acquisition, Behavior, Outcomes” model, often discussed by Avinash Kaushik. Another Google Analytics Guru, Justin Cutroni, designs dashboards around three elements: off-site activity, on-site activity, and conversions/outcomes. Both of these simple frameworks for developing dashboards provide comprehensive and important insights.
I was thrilled when I first heard about this concept and thought, “Yes! THIS is the unifying framework that all dashboards should have.” The idea is that every dashboard should tell the viewer something about how visitors got to the site, what the visitors did while they were on the site, and what happened as a result of the visitors being on the site. It is an easy concept that works wonders for simplifying the analysis process.
I love building and using these dashboards for many reasons. One of the top benefits is that it often saves the viewer from going on a “data hunt.” Since the most important information is already contained in the dashboards, they are a good starting point for the viewer to dive deeper into data for specific answers.
An additional feature of the GA dashboards that assists in the “data hunt” is that the title of each widget is a link to additional in-depth data about that metric. It takes a viewer to the actual report location within Google Analytics, where additional analysis options and data are available.
There is a limit of 12 data widgets per dashboard, but this usually ends up being the “Goldilocks” of information for a great dashboard: too much data will clutter a dashboard and render it far less useful; too little data will not convey the whole picture.
Another feature I’m a fan of is the ability to create up to 20 dashboards per profile. This allows the dashboard creator to tailor individual dashboards to the primary consumer of each report. The Marketing Manager for an organization likely wants to see a different set of KPIs than the CEO, the Human Resources Director, or the Technical Support Manager. This kind of customization makes it even easier to deliver actionable insights to key stakeholders.
We have found it very effective to have one main dashboard with overall KPIs for the web property, and additional dashboards for each business line or traffic source. This allows the relevant stakeholders in every part of the organization to have quick and easy access to the information they need to make informed and data-driven decisions.
Other great features include the ability to schedule emailed reports, download each dashboard as a PDF, and share the configuration of a dashboard. These can be a great resource to have in quick meetings where decisions will be made. Having the right data at your fingertips makes it even easier to build your case – now that’s something we can get excited about!
We would be happy to show you some of the other reasons why we love the GA dashboards and how they can be powerful tools for any organization. In fact, we’ll be geeking out about it for 2 whole hours next Thursday, May 31, at our first Google Analytics Meetup in our Portland office. Sign up here to join us for some learning, networking, and pizza!
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