Google Analytics Dashboards vs Google Data Studio For Reporting


3 min read

Posted by Darren McManus on July 07, 2020

Google Analytics Dashboards vs Google Data Studio For Reporting

Given the amount of standard reports available to you within Google Analytics and the countless ways in which different metrics and dimensions can be combined, it becomes very easy to get “lost in the data” and becomes difficult to focus on the metrics that matter to you. That’s why it’s important to have a suitable, flexible way to visualise and report on the metrics and KPIs that are important to you, all in one single place, away from the noise of all the other countless data points that might distract you.

When it comes to visualising the data that’s most important to you, I'm going to compare what I consider to be your two main (free) options, namely:

  • Google Analytics Dashboards
  • Google Data Studio Custom Reports

Google Analytics Dashboards

Google Analytics allows you to create Dashboards within the Google Analytics interface itself.

These dashboards are a collection of widgets that give you an overview of whatever reports and metrics you care about most.

They let you monitor many metrics at once, so you can quickly check the health of your accounts or see correlations between different reports. Dashboards are easy to create, customize and share. Each view / property includes a default dashboard to get you started.


Some features of Google Analytics Dashboards:

  1. They require Google Analytics access - if your organisation is not comfortable with everybody who needs to read a report having access to Google Analytics, then this isn't the right solution for broad sharing of analytics data.
  2. They are limited to reporting only on Google Analytics data, no other sources.
  3. They allow only a limited amount of data to be visualised - each dashboard can only contain up to 12 widgets.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is an easy to use dashboard and reporting tool, provided by Google, that allows users to turn Google Analytics data into informative and easy to understand reports through data visualisation.

Some key features of Google Data Studio are:

  1. No widget limits - Unlike Google Analytics Dashboards, there is no limit to the number of "widgets" (e.g tables, charts, etc.) that you can view on one page or report.
  2. Calculated metrics - You can create new dimensions and metrics based on existing fields to boost your reporting and analysis. (e.g clean up inconsistent campaign parameters)
  3. Design - You can choose ready-made visual themes, create your own themes or choose a template from the Google Data Studio Gallery. You can then make changes only to a specific widget or page on your selected template.
  4. Shareable - With the click of a button you let other people view and edit reports. You can set view and edit permissions, and unlike Google Analytics Dashboards, you don't have to give or get permission to Google Analytics to find the reports.
  5. Consolidation - Google Data Studio allows you to bring all your Google (Analytics, GSC, Ads) data together in a single place and allows you to import data from lots of other sources through "Partner Connectors"
  6. Filers - Users can filter data in many ways - and, unlike Google Analytics Dashboards, can apply filters to individual charts rather than the entire report.
  7. Interactive - Google Data Studio allows users to alter data in real time with audience segments, filters and timelines.


Which to choose?

Google Analytics Dashboards are okay for topline stats, particularly for smaller teams without a requirement to share website / marketing performance data with different business units / stakeholders.

However, as I've outlined, Google Analytics Dashboards have a lot of limitations which Google Data Studio does not.

Due to their flexibility, interactivity and the fact that data from multiple sources can be combined with Google Analytics data, Google Data Studio Reports are a clear winner for most organisations, particularly those with a requirement to share different data with multiple business units / stakeholders.

If you'd like to discuss your Google Analytics reporting requirements, feel free to Get in touch.

About the Author

Darren McManus
Darren McManus

Darren is a Web Analytics and SEO Specialist at Arekibo. He has a keen interest in analytics and getting results and has spoken at a number of conferences.