When you are working with databases, you know there are thousands or millions of records in a spreadsheet or your database. These data don’t sense anything when it is in that format. However, if you can represent these data in a graphical form, it is easier to visualize and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data. The common type of data visualization includes charts, tables, graphs, maps, and infographics. Alternatively, you can create a dashboard by incorporating all those visual elements. In this post, I will show you how you can create a free online dashboard to graphically represent your data and share it with your collaborators.
What is a Dashboard
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a dashboard is “a diagram that shows important information, typically one that gives an outline of a business“.
A dashboard is an at a glance view for your database. It provides an overview of the data with an easy to read graphical elements. Most of the time, dashboards are one page and consist of interactive features in which readers can sort and filter the data and customize the view based on their expectations.
Why you Should Create a Dashboard
- Our eyes are drawn to colors and patterns. Dashboard converts text and numbers in your database to visual elements that we can easily spot the important signals in there
- It brings all critical information to a single location/ Consolidated view
- The database itself is very complex and may consist of all the data of your organization, project, etc… The dashboard reduces the complexity of your data and extracts the required information.
- Help to track your progress
- Better decision making
- You can pull information from many data sources
- Can handle live data
- You can share the dashboard with others without giving access to your database
Benefits of having an Online Dashboard
Your dashboard is even better if it is online. There are several added advantages in online dashboards.
- The dashboard can be easily shared with collaborators.
- Support working remotely.
- No need to worry about sharing the reports on every update. Others can view the changes in realtime.
- It can grant different access levels.
- It can be automated to send reports.
- Real-time updates
- Everyone referring to the same information.
- It can be connected to internet accessible data sources.
How to Create an Online Dashboard for Free
You may find plenty of websites that you can create an online dashboard If you just google for it. However, most of them are not free.
So, what is the tool that we can create an Online Dashboard for free.
It’s Google Data Studio.
Google Data Studio
Data Studio is a free tool offered by Google, which lets you create a dashboard by connecting Google’s products and many other external sources.
Google Data Studio Report Gallery
The report Gallery contains various types of dashboards created with Google Data Studio. You can access the Report Gallery from here. So you can go through the reports (click once on a report, it will open up in a new tab) and see what features you can build into Google Data Studio Dashboards.
The following report is one of the reports listed under the featured tab of the Report Gallery. The report has created by Search Foresight. I have embedded the report using the embed code of the report. You can make changes to the report using the filters in the gray area and see how graphs are changing accordingly.
Benefits of using Google Data Studio
This is a product of Google. Therefore, you can easily integrate with the other Google products which you are already using. And also, it will more familiar to those who are using other Google products for their day to day works.
Some of the main benefits of using Google Data Studio are listed below.
- Its Completely Free
- As simple as drag and drop, easy to create a dashboard
- You can have your own design
- A collection of templates for a head start
- Put multiple data sources in one place
- Powerful Design Elements
- Share and Collaborate (No need to worry about sharing reports every month or week)
- It supports over 200 connectors, which means your dashboard can access almost any internet-accessible data sources.
- The dashboard automatically updates as the data sources updated. So, everyone sees the changes in realtime.
How to Create Online Dashboards With Google Data Studio
You can learn everything about Google Data Studio from the Data Studio Help.
Most of the options in Google Data Studio is quite self-explanatory. So, it is a bit easier to figure out the functionalities of each option.
Creating an Online Dashboard using Google Sheet as a data source
You can use your Google Sheets as your data source using Google Sheets Connector. To create the dashboard.
- Sign in to the Google Data Studio using your Google Account (Gmail).
- Click the Create button with a Plus mark and select Report to start with a blank report. (You can also start with a template. However, when you are using Google Sheet as your data source, you should start with a blank report)
- You will ask to “Add data to report“. Click the Google Sheets Connector.
- Select your spreadsheet from the Spreadsheets column.
- Select the sheet that consists of your data from the Worksheet column.
- Click the Add button at the bottom right corner. Then click the “ADD TO REPORT” button in the next popup window. Once you do that, your dashboard will be loaded with a sample table.
- Now, you can build your dashboard by using various elements available in the Top Menu.
If you want to learn anything, click the icon at the top right corner or, go Help menu and click “Help” and type your question, it will generate a list of answers.
- Click the “View” button to see how your dashboard looks like and to see how you can interact with the report.
- Once you finish building your dashboard, you can share it with your collaborators using the “Share” button. Add the collaborator’s email address and select what access level (Edit or View) they are allowed.
You can also generate a sharable link. Turn on the link-sharing by selecting the access level you want to allow.
The following animation explains the above steps on creating Online Dashboard for Google Sheets data.
Data Source: Sample Sales Data
Learn More on Google Data Studio
Take Google’s free beginner course – Register for Free
As I mentioned earlier, the Data Studio Help is also one of the best places to learn everything about Google Data Studio.
The following YouTube playlist by Google is also will give a good understanding of Google Data Studio.
Click on each video in the playlist below to watch them.
Our eyes are drawn to colors and patterns as compared to text. Dashboard converts text and numbers in your database to visual elements that we can easily spot the important signals in there. If you can create a dashboard that can be accessed online, it has more advantages. There are many tools out there that you can build online dashboards, but most of them are not free.
The Google Data Studio is one of the best tools that can build online dashboards, and most importantly, it is free of charge. You can use almost any data source in your dashboard using over 200 connectors. And also, Google Data Studio has many compelling elements that you can build any type of online dashboard.