How To Use Google Data Studio (Guide with Examples)

Image: Google

Google Data Studio helps you turn data into an image. A free, browser-based tool, all you need to use Google Data Studio is an account, a data source, and a desire to create a data visualization.

What can you do with Google Data Studio?

Google Data Studio can handle massive amounts of data and create compelling charts, but a well-designed chart requires both accurate data and proper chart type selection. Inaccurate data will not produce a chart that shows the truth no matter how you present it. Good data in a poorly chosen chart type can confuse people.

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For most people, an image conveys meaning that raw data does not. For example, in a company, you can use it to analyze sales, costs, or survey data. A website manager can use Google Data Studio to understand website visitor behavior, purchase patterns, or ad performance. A social media manager could use Data Studio to view reach, engagement, or conversions.

With reliable data displayed in a meaningful chart, Google Data Studio goes one step further with interactive controls and several different sharing methods. Controls allow users to modify various chart contents, allowing a viewer to filter out specific fields or narrow the chart to show data in a selected date range. And not only can you collaborate on Data Studio reports, much like you collaborate on a Google Sheet, but you can also schedule reports to be emailed to people on a regular basis.

To get started with Google Data Studio, open in your browser. Then follow the process below to connect a data source, create a chart, refine the display, optionally add an interactive control, and then share your report.

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Getting started with Google Data Studio

Connect to data

First you need data. When you create in Data Studio | select Report, the system will prompt you to select a data source (Figure A). You can add data using any of the 20+ connectors provided by Google, including sources such as Google Analytics, Google Sheets, BigQuery, YouTube Analytics, Tables by Area 120, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL or upload a .csv file.

Figure A

Choose a data source to connect to. Options include Google Sheets, Google Analytics, .CSV files, or hundreds of other sources.

You can also choose one of the 630+ partner connectors to add data sources ranging from app, advertising, social media and website analytics to accounting, CRM, real estate and time tracking. After you select a connector, you may need to sign in to the source and then select the record you want.

Whatever data source you choose, make sure the underlying data is as reliable as possible. For example, if you connect to a Google spreadsheet that contains data, you can look at at least a few screens with data fields to understand the scope of the data in different fields. For numeric data, you can sort a column to examine the low and high numbers to identify data that may be out of range and may need to be reviewed, adjusted, or discarded. Reliable data is required to create a truthful chart.

Choose a chart type

Next, choose a chart type to use to display the data. The more than 35 types (Figure B) Tables, time series, bars, columns, lines, areas, pies, donuts, scatters, bubbles, pivot tables, scorecards, treemaps, gauges, and maps are listed. After selecting a chart type, you can drag and drop data fields from the right side of the screen into the area under the chart title, then adjust and configure options and sliders as needed.

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Figure B

Choose from a variety of chart types.

When choosing a chart type, consider the data and the message you want to convey. Does the selected chart type emphasize your intent without explanation? When a person unfamiliar with your intention looks at the diagram, what does your intention initially mean to them? Don’t try to make one chart fulfill multiple messages. Instead, try to convey a single concept with a diagram—and use as simple a diagram as possible.

Refine the display

Although Data Studio offers a very useful selection of themes and default themes, in many cases a few refinements can help reinforce both the content and intent of your chart. In addition to labels and chart gridlines, you can add an image, text, lines, or shapes to a page, and customize the chart’s fonts, text colors, background, and borders.

As you customize items, you may make changes that increase understanding of the data. For example, in the chart showing both maximum and minimum temperatures, I changed the line colors to red and blue respectively (Figure C). These refer to the common cultural association of the color red with heat and the color blue with cold in the USA.

Figure C

Customize various chart style settings to make your point stand out.

Add controls

Data Studio lets you place controls that allow people who access your page to adjust settings. This adds an interactive element to help users filter and experiment with different settings, which will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the data and chart content.

Available controls include a drop-down list, slider, check box, and data region (Figure D). Each of these can be placed anywhere on the page, but make sure placing a control doesn’t obscure your chart. Keep in mind that different chart elements will change as the selection changes.

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Figure D

Add controls to give users the ability to change the chart display in various ways.

Share with people

Just like you can collaborate with people on a Google Doc, you can use the share button (Figure E). Select Share | From Invite people, then add email addresses and choose whether to give people read or edit access.

Figure E

Collaborate with others, download, link to, embed, or schedule your report to be emailed regularly.

If you want, you can also manage link sharing when you want to make a Data Studio document available to a wider group of people. The Share menu also provides options to download a report or get an embed code that you can use to embed Data Studio charts elsewhere on the web, such as in a . B. on a Google site.

The share | However, the option to schedule email delivery can be one of the more interesting and useful ways to share reports. This allows you to schedule regular delivery of a Data Studio chart to people at recurring dates and times. If you have a chart connected to a changing data source, this option allows you to schedule selected report pages and send them to people on a regular basis.

What is your experience with Data Studio?

If you use Google Data Studio, what chart types do you use most often? What data do your Data Studio reports show? When you include controls, what types of filters or customizations do people who interact with your charts find most helpful? Have you tried emailing scheduled reports to people using Google Data Studio? Mention or message me on Twitter (@awolber) to let me know how you use Google Data Studio.

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