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Using Dashboards to Streamline your Reporting

As we’ve covered the basics of reporting on the success of your website looking at traffic through sessions and pageviews, and dabbled in engagement with bounce rates, I thought this week I’d take a look at using dashboards and widgets on Google Analytics to help streamline your reporting process.

Before we get into building custom dashboards, it’s worthwhile explaining Dimensions and Metrics quickly as these will come up as you’re creating your dashes.

Metrics

Essentially a Metric is a selection of measurable data, or the numbers you see in your reports. So a Metric would be Sessions, Users or Pageviews.

Dimensions

Conversely a Dimension is the thing you measure the metrics against. These give meaning to the numbers and allow you to understand the distribution of your chosen metric. Such as Traffic Source, Ad Group, or Page Title.

So for example, if you had a report that showed number of Entrances by Page Title; Entrances would be the Metric, and Page Title would be the Dimension. You can have multiple Metrics, but usually only one Dimension. (Although you can add a secondary Dimension in certain reports)

Back to Dashboards

Ok, so now that we’ve covered Metrics and Dimensions we can begin to build a Custom Dashboard. Hurrah!

It’s always useful to think about what you want to use your Dashboard for, don’t just bulldoze your way in creating widgets left, right and centre with no structure or purpose because that’s just silly. So decide on what you want to get your snapshot of, for instance Traffic, or Enagagement. Let’s take Traffic as an example.

Creating the Dashboard

On the left side bar of your Google Analytics page, you will see at the top the menu item for Dashboards, clicking on this expands the menu revealing “+New Dashboard”. For the purposes of this Tutorial, just click on the Blank Canvas option, call your brand spanking new Dashboard “Traffic”, then click on Create Dashboard.
GASidebar

Then you’ll be presented with a nice box that asks you to create your first Widget. Now Widgets are the little nuggets that will display the information you want. You can have up to 12 of them on each Dashboard, so that should be plenty.

Remember that we are building a Dashboard for Traffic, so we might as well have our first Widget showing simply the number of Sessions within our chosen timeframe. So by default Metric is selected as the Widget type, so that’s nice. Then where it says “Add a metric”, if you click it brings a drop down menu with all available Metrics. Because nobody has time to scroll these days, there is a handy search box at the top which will narrow down our choices. So, if we type “sessions” in there it gives us 5 options, and we want the middle one, pure and simple Sessions.

metric

Give that a click, and Analytics automatically entitles your Widget according to the selected metric. Lovely.

Save, and you’ll see your nice new Widget sitting proudly upon your Dashboard.

Adding a Dimension

That was very simple, so now lets dig a little deeper and produce a widget that shows Sessions by Traffic Source or Channel.

Add a new Widget by clicking the button in the top left, and this time choose “Table”. We now have the option to add a Dimension against our Metric. So from the Dimensions menu find “Default Channel Grouping” and add that as our Dimension. Then, again, choose Sessions as our Metric. Notice that for a Table Google kindly gives us the option of adding a second metric, so perhaps it might be handy to see which Channel has the highest Bounce Rate….or anything else you might like/find useful…

dimension

Once you’re happy with your choices Save the Widget and behold your new table in all its glory.

The new one will push the first down the page, but your Dashboard is Drag and Droppable, so feel free to move your Widgets around.

Filtering

One more walk thorugh, then you’re on your own.

New widget, and let’s go with a Bar chart. Now we would like to see which Page is getting the most Landings or Entrances from Organic Search. So for our Metric we want Entrances, and the Dimension will be Page Title. (You can use Landing Page, but this gives the URI rather than themore legible title, and since our Metric is Entrances, the “Landing” aspect is already covered.)

Now this will give us ALL the Entrances logged by Analytics, we want just the one originating from Organic Search. So to do this we need to add a Filter.

Clicking on the Add a Filter link brings up a new line of options for us to play with. So we want to “Only Show” Entrances from the “Default Channel Grouping” containing “Organic Search”.

GAFilter

Save this Widget and you should see a lovely little bar graph that shows the top five landing pages for your website.

So hopefully now you have developed a taste for Dashboards, and are eager to set about having a play and seeing the little nuggets of information you can display and monitor.

If you have any questions, queries or quandaries (ideally related to this article, but we’ll do our best to help with any!), then please leave a comment, give us a call or drop us a email and we’ll be only too happy to help!

Happy Dashboarding!

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