Chapter 3: Dashboard Planning & Bringing in Your Data
To create a useful reporting dashboard for our report viewers, we must plan its structure beforehand. Dashboard planning is thus essential for successful and efficient implementation.
In this chapter, we will discuss how information hierarchy applicable to any business can be mapped to our dashboard’s hierarchy. This will enable us to plan and structure our dashboards more effectively.
In the 2nd part of this chapter, we’ll take a look at different ways of bringing in metrics and dimensions from different sources (Google Ads, Google Analytics, GA4, Google Sheets, Google Cloud BigQuery, 3rd Party marketing & analytics softwares, SQL databases, etc.).
3.1. Intro to Dashboard Planning - STQA Framework
As an example we will go through a dashboard planning scenario following the information and dashboard hierarchy discussed in the lesson. Particularly, we will see the process of outlining and constructing a Website Usability & Engagement Report and a section that shows data about 404 Pages.
In previous lessons, we created an e-commerce report and explored various built-in chart types. Today, let's talk about dashboard planning and data connectors. Later, we'll discuss data modeling, visualization, report interactions, sharing, security, and more.
Planning Your Dashboard
When creating a dashboard, it's tempting to dive right in and start building. But if you want a truly useful and valuable dashboard, you should plan it in advance.
To plan a dashboard, you need to understand two concepts: information hierarchy and dashboard hierarchy. We'll look at how information is structured in a client's business and how a dashboard in Looker Studio is organized.
When creating a dashboard, you usually have a main subject in mind, like website engagement. Within this subject, you have different topics, such as video engagement, scroll depth, and page visits. For each topic, you'll want to present data that answers specific questions. For example, for video engagement, you might ask:
- What was the percentage of video views?
- What were the top three videos viewed on our website?
- How many video views led to finishing the videos on the website?
The information hierarchy consists of Subject, Topic, Question, and Answer (STQA).
Now, let's map this information hierarchy to a Looker Studio dashboard.
- Subject maps to a Report
- Topic maps to Pages within the report
- Question maps to Sections on a page
- Answer maps to Charts within sections
Use pages to declutter your dashboard and present one topic at a time. Create sections within pages to answer different types of questions about that topic. Finally, use charts within sections to answer specific questions.
Example: Website Usability and Engagement Report
Let's say we're asked to create a Website Usability and Engagement Report. We can divide this subject into three topics: Engagement, Engagement by Source, and 404 Pages.
Under Engagement, we'll have sections for Video Engagement and Scroll Engagement. Under Engagement by Source, we'll have a section for Micro Goals (engagement by traffic source). Under 404 Pages, we'll have sections for Total and Trend, and By URL.
For each section, design charts to answer the questions you've identified. For example, in the 404 Pages topic, we could have a scorecard with conditional formatting to show the number of broken pages and how bad the situation is, and a time series chart to show the trend.
Data and Charts
To create charts, you need data. In the next part of this lesson, we'll talk about providing data to charts using data connectors.