Seemingly everyone in the web analytics community is talking about the new dashboard section within the new Google Analytics platform. It’s one of the hottest new features available in the measurement industry today, and now that the new Google Analytics platform is available to everyone, it’s the perfect time to show you what great (and useful) dashboard features you have waiting for you.
First of all, look for a red-colored New Version link on the top-right of the screen, after you log-in to your Google Analytics account. Click on that link, and then you will see the Dashboards tab within the new Google Analytics platform. This is your gateway to viewing your data in the most unique way possible – your way!
The default dashboard will be shown to you – it’s a very basic dashboard that simply shows you the four widget types that you can create or edit. Below is a screen-shot of the default dashboard, but do note that it’s not carved in granite: Anything can be changed, including the name of the dashboard, the titles of the widgets, the location of the individual widgets, the widget types, the number of slices in your pie charts, the number of rows in your tables, and even what traffic segment is shown within an individual widget.
The four widget types are:
1. Metric. The most basic type of widget available (Example: Visits and Bounce Rate in the upper-left hand side of the above screen-shot). You can filter it by essentially any dimension in the product suite (For instance, bounce rate by country).
2. Pie Chart. With the pie chart widget type, you can define what metric is shown (Ex: Visits) and what dimension your pie chart will group your metric by (Ex: Country). You can also apply a dimension here, and you can choose to display anywhere from three to six pie slices in one widget.
3. Timeline. In a timeline widget, you can plot a metric over time, and you have the option to compare that metric with a second metric (Example: Total Goal Completions compared to Abandonment Rate). Filtering / segmenting is available here, too.
4. Table. A table widget lets you view a dimension, and up to two metric contributions for that dimension (Example: Visits and Bounce rate by Country). You can show between five and ten table rows, and as you may have already guessed, you can also apply a filter to this widget type, just like you can with the other three widget types.
My advice: spend some time and play around with the dashboard, and just create widgets and filters for the heck of it. This is the best way for you to get a grasp on how this works. Once you do that, you will inevitably start to come up with widgets and filters within the widgets that are meaningful and that work for you. The worst thing that can come of this is that you need to delete your dashboard and start from scratch – which you can do at anytime!
The Google Analytics Dashboard is the first page that you see when you log-in to your Google Analytics account (well technically it’s the second page, as the first page lists all of your profiles). The Dashboard is the “homepage” of your Google Analytics account, and there’s quite a bit that you can do with it.
The Date Range Tool:
Starting from the top of the page, the first thing that you can control is the Date-Range Tool (or as a Google Engineer told me, the Date-Range “Slider”). That date that you see on your dashboard is the default setting for all Google Analytics profiles – the last 30 days. Clicking on the Date-Range Tool activates the menu:
From here, you can do a few different things. You can click on any individual day in the calendar, to be able to view data for just that single day; you can click on any one of those “half-circle” tabs next to each week to view data for each individual week; or, you can click on the name of any month to view data for that entire month’s time. To choose a specific date-range, click on the first day of your desired date-range, and then click on the last day of your desired date-range. When you’re finished, you can click on the top-right corner of the date-range tool (either on the date itself or the arrow pointing down) to close the menu.
You can also compare any date to a previous date range that is equal in length to what you have selected. First, select your desired date-range. Then, from the drop-down menu under where it says “Comparison”, choose “Date Range”, and you will see the previous date-range become highlighted in bright green. Click on the “Apply” button directly underneath the drop-down menu to enable the date range comparison. Look at what happens to the items on your dashboard:
How fancy! Now, every element of your dashboard, and every element of every other report in Google Analytics, will have this Date-Range comparison enabled. To disable it, simply click into the Date-Range Tool, change from “Date Range” to “Site” in the Comparison drop-down menu, and click on the “Apply” button. You should be back to a single date-range view.
Finally, you can click on the “Timeline” tab within the Date-Range Tool menu to see a trending graph view of the calendar function. You can drag the window back and forth, and you can contract or expand the window by click-and-dragging one of the two silver buttons on either side of the window. It’s a fancier version of the standard calendar view – I’m a boring guy, so I prefer the regular calendar table :).
Export / Email Options:
Your dashboard can be exported to a PDF or an XML file format. All you have to do is click on the “Export” button, which is located towards the top-left of your Dashboard. Once you click on the “Export” button, a sub-menu appears with your two options (Note: for every other report in Google Analytics, you can export in a PDF, XML, CSV, or a TSV file format).
Clicking on the “Email” Button will send you to the Email Management screen, where you can send the report to yourself and other email addresses; enter in a custom Subject and Description Line; and choose the file format which you would like to receive your Dashboard. Or, you can click on the “Schedule” Tab, and have your Dashboard automatically emailed to you daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. You can also choose to enable an automatic date-range comparison in your scheduled report from this tab as well.
If you receive your report in a PDF file format, Google Analytics will not only send you the dashboard, but it will also send you each individual report that you have on your Dashboard at that time (Keep Reading for more on that).
The Trending Graph:
Directly below both the Date-Range Tool and the Export / Email Options, you will see the Trending Graph (how can you miss it? :)) , which is available in almost every report in Google Analytics. With the Trending Graph, you can do a few different things. First, each point on the Trending Graph corresponds to one day – mousing-over any point will display a mini-window with that day’s date, and the number of Visits that occurred on that date. To change what the trending graph is graphing by, click on either “Week” or “Month” towards the right-hand side of the graph, and it will update accordingly.
Now, see where it says “Visits” to the far right of the graph? Click on that little arrow that’s pointing down to enable the Graph Mode menu:
From here, you can change which metric the trending graph is displaying simply by selecting any one of those six metrics listed. The link in the middle, “Compare Two Metrics”, allows you to do just that – compare two different metrics at the same time. The second metric will be represented by an orange-colored line in the trending graph. You can also click on the link to the right, “Compare to Site”, to compare any metric for one individual page or one set of pages against the entire site. This comes in handy when you’re looking at one page, or a group of pages, and want to see how they are doing in comparison to everything (as a whole).
The “Site Usage” Window:
Below the trending graph is the Site Usage window. These six metrics are the very basics of your website’s data. This report window is the only item in the dashboard that you can’t play with (sorry!).
The Report Windows:
Finally, below the Site Usage window is each individual report window. By default, Google Analytics gives you four default Report Windows: Visitors Overview, Traffic Sources Overview, Map Overlay, and Content Overview. When you create a Goal within your profile, Google Analytics adds a fifth window, Goals Overview, and when you enable Ecommerce reporting, it adds a sixth window, Ecommerce Overview.
All of these windows (or widgets, or reports) can be moved around to your liking. Simply click-and-drag the gray heading part of the window, and drop it wherever you’d like. You can also close any report window, thereby removing it from your Dashboard, simply by clicking on the gray “X” on the upper-right hand side. Finally, you can click on “View Report” to be taken to that particular report’s main page.
Any report in Google Analytics is available to be added to your dashboard, which will add one of these report windows for you to play with. This, in essence, “saves” your work, because when you click on the “View Report” link, you will be taken to the same report page with your exact same options that you had enabled or disabled when you clicked on the “Add to Dashboard” button.
Look for a follow-up post next week, where I will talk about creating an effective Google Analytics Dashboard, and what you can do with one.