Google Data Studio is our primary tool for building beautiful reports and easy to understand data visualizations.
In this Google Data Studio beginners guide, I am going to show you how to make the most of this awesome tool and show you how you can quickly build useful dashboard from your data!
An outline of this guide:
- What is Google Data Studio?
- Creating your first Data Studio report
- Connecting to a data source in GDS
- Chart types explained
- Filters explained
- How to share a Google Data Studio report
Now, this guide is just scratching the surface of this tool. There are tons of features in Google Data Studio that we don’t mention here.
For more tutorials on specific features, check out some of our other posts on Google Data Studio:
- Google Data Studio Calculated Fields – The Ultimate Guide
- Google Data Studio Connectors – A Complete Guide
- Data Blending in Google Data Studio
- Google Data Studio Pivot Tables
- Advanced Date Filters in Google Data Studio (Rolling Timeframes)
What is Google Data Studio?
Data Studio is a free reporting tool from Google that allows you to connect to and pull data from different data sources like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Google Sheets.
You can easily create visual reports to share with your clients, stakeholders, and team members.
Create a New Data Studio Report
In this post, I’m going to show you some of the most important features of Google Data Studio as we go an create a full eCommerce report together using the tool.
This is the main interface of Google Data Studio. You can see your previous reports in the middle and at the top, and you can choose to start with a template or a blank report. Today, let’s start by creating a blank report.
Connecting to a Data Source
The first thing we need to do is to connect our report to a data source. We can do this by clicking on Create new data source at the bottom right corner of the screen. This will pull up a menu of potential data sources you can connect to your report.
Google Data Studio can connect to a lot of different data sources. There are free connectors available for Google products, such as Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Sheets, or even Google BigQuery. For everything else, you can use partner connectors. Partner connectors allow you to connect to many different data sources like Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and AdRoll.
Since we’ll use sample data for this tutorial, I’m going to click cancel. Of course, for your own reports, choose whatever option provides the most relevant data.
For this tutorial, I’m selecting the Google Analytics sample data provided by Google. Click Add to report, and we are good to go.
Charts Types in Data Studio
First things first, let’s give our report a name. Next, let’s add a header so that your stakeholders and clients will know what your report is. An easy way to do this is to create a rectangle with the rectangle shape button.
We can resize it and change its color using the style editor in the sidebar. Next, we’re going to add a title by clicking on the text button. Using the style editor again, you can change the font, color, and size to make your header look clean and professional.
Let’s add some numbers to our report by adding some scorecards. Scorecards are a great way to show off KPIs (key performance indicators). To add a scorecard, click the Add a chart dropdown and select one of the scorecard options.
Let’s use the style editor to give our scorecard a border, round the corners, and adjust the padding. Keep the style clean and consistent by using the same style settings for each element on your report.
You can make the scorecard represent any number from your data. By default, this one shows the number of sessions, but you can change this in the Metric field under the Data tab in the sidebar. Here, we can also enable a date range comparison. Let’s compare this metric in a current time period to a previous period.
Now that we are happy with this scorecard and its formatting, we can duplicate it and create more.
Duplicating retains the style and the configuration for the date. Now, the only thing we need to do is to change the metric. For this one, let’s choose transactions. We can search for this and other metrics in the search bar under Available Fields. Then, we’ll click and drag the field over to replace the metric.
We can repeat this process of duplicating and changing the metric to make more scorecards. Here, I’ve added scorecards for product detail view and revenue. For revenue, the numbers start to get big and messy, so let’s change this one to show a compact number. Under the Style tab, check the box labeled Compact Numbers.
We can continue this duplication and replacement process to include as many scorecards as we like. For this sample report, I’ve added scorecards for the average order value and the eCommerce conversion rate.
You’ll notice that there are many potential data fields that can populate the scorecards, so play around with them and see what is most relevant for your reports.
Another helpful element would show your stakeholders which countries you get your revenue from. Let’s add a map to the report to visualize this. Click the Add a chart dropdown and select the geo map option.
Let’s change the metric to revenue by searching and then dragging and dropping the revenue field in the Data tab. Each shade on the map now shows revenue from that region. With a map, your stakeholders can easily see which country brings the most revenue to your eCommerce store.
Just to make it clear for the end user what metric is being represented by this map, let’s add a title. Otherwise, your stakeholders will be left guessing at the meaning of the map. Click the text button and add an informative title to your map.
Time Series Charts
Next, let’s visualize some trends by adding a time series chart to our report. Click the Add a chart dropdown and select one of the time series options.
Let’s give our chart a border and change the radius for the corners. The goal here is to keep consistency with our scorecards’ style.
Adding Several Metrics to a Single Chart
Next, let’s decide what numbers we want to show on this chart. We can search for some metrics on the Data tab again. Let’s say for this chart we want sessions, product detail, product adds to cart, and transactions.
We can click and drag our metrics over Add metric to have all of them at once instead of replacing them like we did with our scorecards.
Let’s say we want a separate chart to show revenue. We want our style to stay consistent, so let’s make a copy the same way we did with the scorecards: right click our chart and select Duplicate.
Now we have a new chart with a matching style, but we only want one metric this time. We can remove the extra metrics by hovering over each one and clicking the “X” that appears.
Then, we’ll replace the last one with the revenue metric to see the trend of revenue over time. Search for the field, then click and drag it into the chart metrics.
The Cumulative Setting
Let’s say that instead of seeing change in revenue over time, we’d like this chart to show how revenue builds up over time. Under the Style tab, check the box for Cumulative.
Adding a Trendline
Let’s add one more chart to show eCommerce conversion rates over time. Just like before, we’ll right-click and Duplicate our chart. Then on the Data tab, search for the eCommerce conversion rate metric. Drag and drop the new metric over the previous one to replace the old metric with the new one.
We probably don’t want this chart to be cumulative, so we’ll uncheck the Cumulative box. On the other hand, a trendline would be great here. We can click the Trendline drop-down and choose either a linear, exponential, or polynomial trendline for our chart. This is a cool and easy way to see the bigger picture of your chart data.
Next, let’s try adding a pie chart. Click the Add a chart dropdown and select one of the pie chart options. Here, I’ll pick the donut chart just because it looks nice.
Let’s use this chart to show the distribution between male and female users. In the Data tab, search for gender and drag it to the Dimension field for this pie chart. In this case, we can leave the metric as the number of sessions.
When making your own charts, remember that your metric is your numerical data, and your dimension is the category by which your data is sorted.
In the Style tab, we can move the legend to the top. You can put your legend wherever it makes visual sense, but in this case we want to make some room on the side for the next visualization that we’re going to add.
Let’s use the space we just made to create another chart that shows which cities contribute the most revenue. For this visual, click the Add a chart dropdown and let’s choose a horizontal bar chart.
For our dimension, we’ll use the city field, and we’ll use revenue as our metric. This will show the amount of revenue per individual city. You can click and drag margins within the chart to adjust the size and make room for the names of the cities.
With lots of beautiful and informative visuals, our Awesome eCommerce Report is almost finished. Let’s see how it looks for the end user. In the upper right corner, click the View button.
Looks nice, doesn’t it? But there is a slight problem. This report is totally static, meaning that the user cannot interact with it. They can’t choose the time period or look at different segments of data.
To improve this, let’s go back and add some interactive features to this report. Toggle back to editor mode by clicking the Edit button in the upper right corner.
Dynamic Reporting with a Date Filter
The first thing we’re going to do is to allow the end user to change the time period of the report. An interactive date control filter will do the job nicely. Click the date control button in the topbar, which is shaped like a calendar.
The header that we made at the beginning of this tutorial is a great place to put this. In the Style tab, we can change some colors to make it visible on the darker background.
Now, anyone viewing our report can easily choose the timeframe that our visuals will represent. Clicking on the date filter will bring up a calendar where viewers can select a start date and an end date for the data on the report.
Dynamic Reporting with a Filter Control
In the editor mode, we can add even more cool features to this report. I’m going to select all of the elements and move them down a bit to make room for extra features.
First, let’s add a drop down menu that allows users to look at traffic from different source mediums. This is done by adding a filter control to report. In the topbar, click the filter control button, which looks like three stacked horizontal lines with the longest on top and the shortest at the bottom.
By default, the dimension will be set to medium, but we’re going to change it to source medium. Again, we’re simply searching and then dragging and dropping.
We’d like some more filters, so we’ll right-click and duplicate this one. This second one’s dimension will be device category, which allows viewers to look at traffic separately from desktop devices, tablets, or mobile phones.
Finally, I’m going to duplicate this again and change the dimension to allow viewers to filter by user type. This filters for data that is from either new or returning users.
Let’s review our report again and see how it looks. Now it’s possible for viewers to filter this report based on any of the criteria we’ve added. For example, they can choose to only look at desktop traffic, and all the numbers and charts will be updated to reflect the selection.
Sharing Your Report
Now that we have created the ultimate eCommerce report together, it is time to share it with others. Let’s take a look at the different sharing options we have access to in Data Studio.
The first option is to download the report as a PDF form. Click the download icon at the very top of your screen and you will be presented with a popup. With this option, we can direct the file to ignore custom background colors and include a link back to the online report. We can even protect our report with a password.
The next option is to set up automatic, scheduled delivery of the report via email. Click the clock-shaped button at the top of your screen to see a scheduling popup.
In this case, Data Studio emails a PDF version of this report to the email addresses that you choose on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This is a good option if stakeholders need to be updated regularly and punctually, since it automates the sharing process for you.
Share it with a Link!
We can also simply create a link to this report. Click on the link button at the top of your screen, and you will see a popup with a URL that you can copy and share however you’d like.
We can also share it with other people just like any other Google Drive document. Click the share icon at the top of your screen to see a popup that will look familiar if you’ve ever shared a Google Doc or Google Sheet.
From here, you can get a shareable link, or you can share this report with specific emails. So as you can see, there are lots of options for you to share a report with the people who need to view it.
This was a quick Google Data Studio tutorial to get you started using this powerful reporting tool.
You should now be able to connect to a data source; create a beautiful, interactive and fully functional report; and share it with others—all in about 15 minutes.
You can learn more on how to use Google Data Studio with our Google Data Studio Course.
And if you find yourself stuck setting this up, we can do it for you! Just reach out to us here.