Google Analytics – Custom Dashboards

Google Analytics Logo - 300 pixels

How many times have you gone months without logging into your Google Analytics and checking your website performance? Completely understandable, you get busy and your website stats take a back seat to the day-to-day operations. Worry no more. With Google Analytics you are able to create dashboards which allow you to see up to 12 key metrics of web performance and to have the report emailed to you at a scheduled time.

These summaries are a great way to keep informed on key metrics for your business and to alert you to changes that may require further investigation. These reports can be sent daily, weekly, monthly, etc. and serve as a great way to quickly see key performance statistics and determine if more investigation is necessary to fix potential problems.

The following is a step-by-step guide to setting up your Google analytics Dashboard and email report. 


Customize Your Dashboard

To create a customized dashboard use the menu commands CUSTOMIZATION … Dashboards. Then select Create dashboard (see image below). After the dashboard is created, you can set up a regularly scheduled emailed to you and others, if applicable.

The tutorial below outlines how to set up the Custom Dashboard and fill it with your chosen metrics charts and data.

Google Analytics Customization Dashboards

Creating An Analytics Dashboard

The first step in creating a dashboard is to decide if you want to create a Starter Dashboard or create a Blank Canvas.

A pop-up window appears next.  This is where you can select the type of dashboard to create.  Either select Blank Canvas or Starter Dashboard, then enter the name of your dashboard and click the Create Dashboard button.

Google Analytics Create Dashboard

Starter Dashboards

If you have selected the Starter Dashboard, you will see a dashboard that already contains a few useful report summaries – as shown below.

Analytics Dashboard - Starter Dashboard


The Starter Dashboard contains the following reports and charts:

  • New Users
  • Users
  • Sessions
  • Sessions by Browser
  • Average Session Duration and Pages/Session
  • Bounce Rate
  • Goal Completions
  • Revenue

Blank Dashboard – 100% Custom

The other option is to create a Blank Canvas Dashboard.  If you choose this option then you are able to add up to 12 reports and/or metrics.  The first step in building your customized dashboard is to select the metrics that you would like to see on your dashboard.  It is a good idea to create your custom dashboard around a specific theme or type of data.  For example, maybe you are looking to create a dashboard of general website analytics, or social media engagement, or even eCommerce revenue & sales, etc.  It is also recommended to jot down a list metrics and reports you would like to include.

Creating Analytics Dashboard

For example purposes, we will walk through the creation of dashboard to hold general website metrics and reports.  Our example dashboard will contain:

  • Users (metric)
  • Users (timeline)
  • Pages / Session
  • Average Session Duration
  • Bounce Rate
  • Sessions by Traffic Type
  • Channels
  • Mobile Visits
  • Top Page Content
  • Medium/Source

The list of information above gives you a summary of how many users are viewing your site as well as where these users are coming from.  You can also see how much of your traffic is coming from mobile sources.  You can review user’s engagement with your website.  Are users bouncing off your website after landing on a page?  What are the top pages that they are viewing?  If you would like more information about the available metrics and data within Google Analytics – refer to our earlier post – What Are Metrics?

When adding data to your custom dashboard, you can add individual metrics or data from predefined report within Google Analytics.  These individual pieces of data are referred as Widgets.

The following images outline the types of data that has been added to a dashboard. The four red arrows below indicate the metrics that have been added to the dashboard; Users, Pages/Session,etc.

Analytics Dashboard - Metrics


The image below is of the same dashboard.  The red arrows, in this case, indicate the charts that have been added. These charts are referred to as timeline data when creating your dashboard.

Analytics Dashboard - Timelines


The other type of data that has been added to this sample dashboard are tables.  The image below denotes the various tables included; Channels, All Traffic, Mobile, etc.

Analytics Dashboard - Tables


Now that you have this background information, we will begin the creation of our Sample Dashboard. After we have selected the type of dashboard (blank canvas) and given it a name, we can begin the addition of the widgets.  The image below will appear once to select +Add Widget.  If you are adding a metric to your dashboard, you will create a Widget a Title, select a metric and Save your Widget.

Adding Widget to Analytics Dashboard

Adding A Users Widget

The image below demonstrates how to add the Users metric to your dashboard.

Analytics Dashboard User Widget


Once the widget is saved, it will appear on your Sample Dashboard – see image below.

Analytics Dashboard Metric

Adding Engagement Stats

We can continue the addition of other metrics by repeating these same steps described above and choosing a different metric from the drop down box each time. The next image shows the dashboard with three new metrics added; Pages / Session, Avg. Session Duration, and Bounce Rate.

Adding Metrics to Analytics Dashboard


As you can see the widgets have been added vertically in a column down the left hand side of the dashboard.  If you like, you can control the layout of this data.  Click the Customize Dashboard option on the top right of the page.

Customize Analytics Dashboard

Layout Customization

The layout options now appear.  By default the 30% / 40% / 30% layout is selected.  However there are many other 1-column, 2-column, 3-column or 4-column options.

Analytics Dashboard Layout Options


We are going to select the 2-column 50% / 50% option.  We can now click and drag our metric widgets into either column #1 or column #2.  We have decided to keep the Users metric on the left and move the other metrics to the right hand column. See below.

Analytics Dashboard with Metrics

Adding Graphs to Your Dashboard

Next we will add the charts.  These charts are created in existing Google Analytics reports. We will add a graph of the number of users per day to start with.

Go to the Google Analytics predefined reports, select Audience … Overview.  Change the default metric to Users, the click Add to Dashboard.

Google Dashboard - Predefined Audience Report


From the drop down box select the Sample Dashboard (which is the one you are currently working on) then select the Timeline: Users widget. Now click the Add to Dashboard button.

Google Dashboard - Users Widget


Google will automatically add the new widget to the top of your dashboard, you are able to click and drag the new widget to any placement you like within your dashboard – either column #1 or column #2.  We have repositioned the chart below the Users metric.

Google Dashboard - Users Chart


We will add another widget.  This time we have decided to create a widget with a pie chart that displays the Sessions by Traffic Type.  Select +Add Widget from your dashboard.  Give the widget a Title and select Pie Chart. Use the drop down boxes near the bottom of the window.  Select Sessions from the metric drop down box entitled “Create a pie chart showing”, then select Traffic Type from the “grouped by” drop down box.  The elements in these drop down boxes are in alphabetic order.  Scroll down until you find what you are looking for.

Google Dashboard - Pie Chart Widget


Here is the new pie chart widget on your dashboard – see below.

Google Dashboard - Adding Pie Chart

Using Google’s Predefined Analytics Reports

The remainder of the data we want to add to the Sample Dashboard comes from predefined Google Analytics reports.  Let’s add the Channel report to the dashboard. Select Acquisition … All Traffic … Channels then Add to Dashboard (see image below).

Google Dashboard - Adding Predefined Reports


From the pop-up window, select the appropriate Dashboard (Sample Dashboard) and click the check box for the Table option then Add to Dashboard.

Google Dashboard - Adding Channels Widget


Now the Channel report is added to the dashboard.  We have dragged this report over to column #2 below the Bounce Rate metric.

Google Dashboard - Added Channels Widget

Editing Existing Widgets

Now we want to edit the report to change the title and the metrics displayed.  To edit a widget, hover your mouse over the title of the widget (see black arrow below for positioning).  See how the edit (pencil) icon appears when you hover over the title. Click the pencil icon to edit this widget.

Google Dashboard - Edit Channels Widget


We are going to change the Widget title to  Channels.  We are also going to change the metric that is displayed in the second column by selecting Avg. Session Duration from the drop down list.

Google Dashboard - Channels Widget


Once we have saved our changes the updated information will appear on the Sample dashboard with the Channel report.

Google Dashboard - Channels


We will continue to add predefined Google Analytics reports to the dashboard, repeating the steps outlined above.  As we add them to the dashboard, we will edit the widget to create a more meaningful Widget Title and alter the metrics when necessary.

When have added three new report summaries (Source/Medium, Mobile & Top Content) to the Sample Dashboard – see image below.

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Dashboard

Email Your Dashboard

Now that our dashboard is complete, we can set up the scheduled email.  Select Email from the top menu.

Analytics Dashboard - Email


Enter the email address(es), select the frequency of the email and add a descriptive comment.  There are many options for frequency; daily, weekly, monthly, etc.  We have chosen the monthly option.  With this option we can choose the day of the month for the email to be sent.  In this case, we have chosen the first of the month.  Press the Send button to save your email report schedule.

Analytics Dashboard - Schedule Email


More with Dashboards

This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google Dashboards.  You can also share dashboards between Google accounts and download pre-built dashboards from user libraries. Each Google Analytics account allows the creation of multiple dashboards. Plan to build dashboards for all your key website information such as; Social Media, Adwords, eCommerce, etc.

For more information regarding Google Analytics, check out these posts.


Google Analytics – Many Answers

Google Analytics – Customized Reporting



Building Successful Web Strategies

Building Successful Web Strategies