Data viz

Google Data Studio – Report enhancements for more data context

Finding the best ergonomic and graphic solutions to display data is a big challenge regarding:

  • Report goals
  • Context usages
  • Audience maturity (report readers)
  • Data visualisation tool features and limits

What is the purpose of this report, this slide, this chart? Reader or presentation audience must focus on which element? To deliver which message? Is it possible to build it with my data viz tool?

To focus on this challenge and remove a part of readers disruptions and other considerations…

  • Displayed data
  • Available interactions and data control elements
  • Measurement plan awareness
  • Analytics vocabulary and technical skills
  • Digital devices events

…you can apply easy solutions about data context inside Google Data Studio.

I will take the page report below as example to enhance with data context.

Google Data Studio - Visualisation challenges

The chapters below will introduce some of these practices about data context.

Let’s see how to implement the following elements, enlightening your report with data context:

  1. Panel summarizing current selected data
  2. Icons providing, for each chart, important information about configuration and available control options
  3. Glossary
  4. Graph comments

Data are based on a Google Analytics data source (demo account of

1. Summary of selected data

Google Data Studio offers more and more ways to refine and control dynamic displayed data for report readers:

  • Date range widget
  • Filter control widget
  • Activation of dimension filter on most of graphs

To support these various capabilities of data control and the related sharing with refinements (pdf and links), let’s include a summary of selected data, following the content of the report and the level of data control provided to readers.

Displayed data

The example below contains selected channels, device categories and date range.

Channels and device categories
Channel and device category are 2 of the most used global dimensions to filter traffic for a Google Analytics data source. So, the related current selection is included as a list and its counter.

Date range
In most of cases, you probably don’t need to put selected date range in your dashboard report because date range selector is present in your slides, and so, it plays the role of displaying selected period through other ways (ex: time series with activated filter).

In other cases of reports, there is no date range selection because the goal of the report is not creating live dashboard but “just” reporting, focusing, commenting, correlating and recommending….so analyzing and delivering inputs to optimize. For these cases, it is useful to add date range information including related dynamic data.

Google Data Studio - Data context - Selected data

How to create a dynamic summary of selected data

Channels and device categories

  1. Create channel and device category table charts with the following configuration
    • Data tab: Select your dimension (default channel grouping, device category or another custom dimension), with the right number of rows per page to display all your values, sorted by ascending dimension
    • Style tab: Don’t show the table header, row numbers, pagination, chart header ; then adapt other style attributes following the graphic design of your report
    • Resize the table following positions of tables in the panel
  2. Create 2 custom field metrics in your Google Analytics data source using the formulas below with the right dimension
    • Channels count: COUNT_DISTINCT(Default Channel Grouping)
    • Device categories count: COUNT_DISTINCT(Device Category)
  3. Create 2 scorecard charts corresponding to the custom metrics above and adapt related configurations
    • style tab, at least: 0 decimal precision, small text, hide metric name, do not show chart header

Date range

  1. Create date table chart “date from” with the following configuration
    • Data tab: Select “Date” dimension, sorted by ascending dimension
    • Style tab: Don’t show the table header, row numbers, pagination ,chart header ; then adapt other style attributes following the graphic design of your report
    • Resize the table to display just one line
  2. Create date table chart “date to” Duplicating the “date from” table and changing sort option to descending


  1. Create your panel and include all elements described on the previous step
  2. Add a text widget for panel title
  3. Add text widgets for labels of displayed data, using “( )” to put over our counters (scorecards)
  4. Draw a vertical dotted line with pointers to indicate that some tables are scrollable


Finally, Let’s see the panel of selected data in action…

2. Info icon

All readers are not aware about Data Studio features or how you built shared reports. Adding simple icon to each chart is an easy way to provide additional report information.

In the examples below, I’ve decorated each chart title with a small adapted icon and a related short label:

  • Fixed charts to keep on overview of performance over the previous months
  • Interactive charts to filter on specific date(s) or dimension(s)
  • Chart with drill down to display sub dimension

Google Data Studio - Data context - Chart info icon

We can also imagine to create icons for:

  • Specific data source
    (ex: Not blended Facebook Ads data)
  • Hard-configured filter to isolate a part of traffic
    (ex : Traffic landing on a specific campaign page)
  • Filter control with single select and default value
    (ex : Default selection on english version of a multi language website for report page about content efficiency)

3. Glossary

Documentation is key about the report vocabulary and the related measurement plan:

  • How is calculated our conversation rate?
  • Which interaction alter the bounce rate regarding our measurement plan?
  • Which attribution model is applied to acquisition slides? Display post-view is included in it?

All these questions can be answered with a simple glossary page, available on all pages though a simple footer using text link feature.

4. Graph comments

Easier one. There is a anomaly in displayed data and you wish to avoid unnecessary questions about it (metric discrepancies, “none” as dimension value.. )? Add a temporary comment below your chart, using yellow background (graphic convention for info block).

Google Data Studio - Data context - Chart comments

5. Compiled data context elements

At last, let’s re-check all enhancements, combined in our page. It’s fine, no overloaded contents and the wished reading flow is still driven by orange color 😉

Google Data Studio - Data context

X. Annotations of events as in Google Analytics

Update of the 1st of April 2020
I’ve written today an article dedicated to annotations like we know with Google Analytics, recreated inside Google Data Studio: Looker Studio annotations as inside Google Analytics. A way to inject dated data context!

Cheers! Mais boire dans un verre plutôt qu’au goulot