Who would have thought a tiny symbol could make something static, dynamic?
Ladies and gentlemen, today we explore Optional Metrics.
It’s amusing how we choose to make metrics optional. That’s not what we want to do, is it? We want everything! All of it!
Depending on how important a dashboard is to you, we have from a single to dozens of pages in a dashboard (the most I’ve seen is almost 70, please don’t do that the loading time is horrible). However that’s what a dashboard is for. It cuts through the clutter and presents the data we deem important, all at once.
Where to find it: In Edit mode > Data tab > underneath Metrics
Here’s where we can switch on Optional Metrics:
- Time series
- Bar chart
- Pie chart
- Geo map
- Line chart
- Area chart
That’s almost all the charts. So many possibilities.
Yup that’s right, you can combine Optional Metrics with Conditional Formatting. Add a rule for any metric that you want to highlight and it will apply when displayed:
How to do it:
On a table, there’s a maximum of 20 Metrics plus another 10 slots for Optional Metrics. Technically you could have only one table on the dashboard with 30 Metrics altogether to analyse with. Question is, are you sure you want to do that?
Hovering on any part of the chart in View mode makes the Optional Metrics symbol appear. As this may not be immediately obvious to your audience who do not use Data Studio regularly, you could put wording at the tops of charts to indicate Optional Metrics are in use e.g.:
Click and select your Metrics in View mode for analysis:
Here’s what I mean by making something static, dynamic. The width of the table does not change when the metrics are added in. This is something to keep in mind as whatever that does not fit will be truncated.
It’s worth turning on wrap text for both table header and body if there’s going to be plenty of Optional Metrics:
Similar to Table, the width of Scorecard will not adjust if the metric name exceeds the scorecard area.
Conditional Formatting applies here too!
Using Optional Metrics with Scorecards, one idea here is to group the metrics that belong in the same category. For example, Audience Overview metrics are important to me so instead of finding space for 8 scorecards, I can place 4 and turbo power them up by using Optional Metrics.
Swap them over!
Time Series / Line Chart
Optional Metrics in Time Series and Line Charts are handy to compare traffic and business trends without creating many charts. This chart allows 20 metrics on display, 10 for optional.
Bar Charts are terrific in data display and comparison across different dimensions and metrics. This chart allows 20 metrics on display, 10 for optional.
Pie Charts are awesome to show percentage or proportional data, with the legend at the position of your choosing. It's best to display data for 6 categories or fewer. This chart allows 1 metric on display at a time, and 10 for optional.
Geo Map is a map of a country or region, highlighted with colours and values. This visualises location data allowing immediate interpretation. This chart allows 1 metric on display at a time, and 10 for optional.
Area Chart is similar to a Time Series chart, but it can visualise volume too. This chart allows 1 metric on display at a time, and 10 for optional.
Treemaps are suited for visualising large amounts of hierarchically structured (think tree branches) data. This chart allows 1 metric on display at a time, and 10 for optional.
Limits of Optional Metrics:
- Symbol is not immediately obvious and your hard work done into dashboard planning and design might go unnoticed
- Charts that allow metric add-ons have a limit of 20 metrics on display, 10 for optional
- Charts that allow metric swapping have a limit of 1 metric on display, 10 for optional
- Planning is needed to ensure metric name does not get truncated
- Optional Metrics do not carry over when chart type is changed in Edit mode
Now that you have had a quick look at Optional Metrics on the chart types, you may notice some allow metric swapping whereas others allow add-ons. It’s good to take into account the pairing of chart type with metrics, for the type of analysis done when designing your dashboard.
One Data Studio page allows up to 50 charts, so Optional Metrics is a good option to reduce the chart count on a page and get rid of all those pesky scorecards. It’s also worth renaming those metrics concisely to avoid it being truncated (in tables) or being too long for the chart (scorecards).
Go forth and don’t be afraid to make your metrics optional! Less is (sometimes) more.