• Sutter Mills
  • March 20, 2017
  • Blog Posts

Create a user-friendly analytics dashboard with Google Data Studio

Last week with my colleagues from Sutter Mills analytics team, we decided to set ourselves a challenge: create a practical and pretty analytics dashboard with the recently released Data Studio from Google. As part of our job is to help our clients choose the tools that best meet their needs, we thought it could be interesting to share an opinion.

Data Studio is one of the data visualization platforms that aim at creating pretty, interactive, dynamic and shareable dashboards, using your data. You can connect various sources, including AdWords, BigQuery, YouTube Analytics, Google Analytics, and many more which you can mix to feed a single report.

Still in beta version, Data Studio is a free tool which was launched last summer and is available in France since September.

I can already say that I find it is a fantastic, user friendly, professional and highly efficient tool for people who need to create dashboards quickly and independently.

Nevertheless, my colleagues and I noticed some quick wins detailed later on in this article, that we hope to see implemented in the foreseeable future!

If you want to try Data Studio, just access it here.


How does it work?

1. Connect data sources

The first thing you have to do is select your data sources as well as the Google account you have access to. Then, connect your account with Data Studio and start configuring your data. For example, you’ll have to select the format you want to display: number, text, etc.

You are now ready to start working on your first report!

2. Create your report

You can either use a Google template or create your own:

  • If you prefer the Google template option, just pick a template and customize it depending on what you need, and what you think is useful and/or easy to read. To do so, you have to select one or several data sources which you have to import in Data Studio beforehand.

  • In case you want to create your own report starting from a blank page, you just have to drag and drop the widgets you need on your page: image, pie chart, text, map, table chart and so on.

3. Customize & share

You can customize almost everything from the style (colours, fonts, backgrounds) to the way data is displayed and compared.

The reports can be shared with people, and you can work together on it. Data can be updated in real time, which is highly appreciable.

See how easy it is to display your data the way you want with the examples below:

Quick wins to optimize user experience

Through this little challenge, my colleagues and I noticed some areas of improvement:

  • Graph customization: we could not play with the pie charts as wished — we wanted to merge two categories directly in the graph, which was not possible.
  • Smart sorting: we could not sort data in our graph by days of the week, only in ascending, descending or alphabetical order.
  • Formatting: we did not manage to centre the scorecards titles and had to find a trick to get round the issue — not a very fluid process!
  • Widgets: we compared the tool to other datavisualization tools such as Tableau or Adobe Analytics, and found that widgets which you can use to display your data on Data Studio were more limited.
  • Filters: again, compared to other available tools, it seems that Data Studio enables the user to filter data only by date dynamically.

Smart & easy as pie…

To sum up, our test run proved very successful! It’s a great free tool for everyone, that delivers highly professional reports. You eventually have some limitations but we all know that too much customization sometimes just creates white elephants.

Even if optimisation is necessary, the current Data Studio is a successful version that makes data easily readable and understandable.

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