Presenting data in a more visually engaging way is becoming more and more popular as people realise the benefits of creating data dashboards that are visually appealing, easier to read and navigate, and ultimately more accessible. As we cautiously tiptoe into 2021, you’d be unlikely not to see at least one infographic on any given day. This is prevalent across all industries, and all levels of detail, whether you have a single chart you’d like to share, or you’re putting together a monthly presentation.
Thankfully, our favourite dashboard and reporting tool, Google Data Studio, have introduced a feature that means putting your own branding or visual identity into a dashboard has never been easier. You can now quickly create visually engaging reports without having any design experience, and you don’t need to know your HEX codes from your RGB.
Using Themes in Google Data Studio
Dashboards in Data Studio allow you to apply a visual theme to your report. This acts a palette of colours readily available to you in the same way you would use themes in other platforms such as PowerPoint or Slides. Using Themes is a great time saver, because not only do you not need to worry about remembering various colour codes, but it will also apply your theme to new widgets as you build the report.
The good news keeps on coming as well because if you decide to modify your theme or rebrand your report well into the process, changes to your theme will retroactively adjust any elements and widgets that make use of the theme design, which again can save you a great deal of time. For a quick and efficient way to create a theme for your dashboard, you can use the Extract Theme from Image feature.
Extract Theme From Image
To extract a theme from an image, all you need is, well…an image. You can use either an image file on your device or a URL. We’ll talk you through how to do this with an image file, but the process is almost identical.
While in Edit Mode on your dashboard, the default menu on the right hand side of the interface is Theme And Layout. If you’re not seeing this in Edit Mode, you may have a widget selected. Simply click on a blank section of your report, and this menu should appear. Here, you’ll see a selection of preset themes available in Data Studio. While perfectly reasonable in their own right, that’s not why we’re here!
At the bottom of the Theme and Layout menu, you’ll see a button to Extract Theme From Image. This where you’ll see the option to Upload from Computer, or by URL. Click Upload from Computer and select your image file. Data Studio will then present you with 3 themes generated from your image.
Simply select the theme you’d like to proceed with, and click Apply. Your theme will now be applied to your dashboard. If you’ve not started building any widgets yet, try playing around with some charts and you’ll see your new theme take shape. If you’ve already created a report before adjusting the theme, you should see these new visuals come through.
Fine Tuning: Customise Your Theme
There may be elements of your new theme you’re not quite happy with, or perhaps there are other colours you’d like to integrate. Themes are by no means final, and you’re free to make changes to these at any time. Navigate to the Theme and Layout menu once again, and at the top of this menu you’ll see a “Customise” button, next to the theme you’re currently using. Click on the Customise button to open up all your options, and the details of your theme.
This Edit Theme menu may look familiar to you if you’ve changed the style of any widgets in a Data Studio before, allowing you to change a range of features in your theme, including the text style, component backgrounds and borders, link colours, contrast, comparison metrics, and your Chart Palette.
The Chart Palette should now be based on the image you’ve used to generate your extracted theme. You can change any of these colours in the palette by clicking on the relevant square, and selecting your new choice from the menu or adding a custom colour. You’ll also notice that your colour menu has a Theme section, which automatically shows you the colours included in your theme’s palette, so it’s really quick and easy to select these as you work through your dashboard.
Make Your Data Beautiful
It may seem obvious that people are less responsive to a bland and monochromatic page of numbers and statistics, and it may not seem like a significant change, but creating reports that are more visually appealing and in line with your brand identity really does make a difference. Users and readers of the dashboard are more likely to engage with the data, interact with the report, and ultimately process more information and take more away from their time with the dashboard.
Presentation is key to an effective data dashboard and at the heart of data visualisation. And above all else… it just looks nicer!
If you have any questions about Google Data Studio, please feel free to leave a comment below or to contact us at [email protected]. You can also follow us @GlowMetrics for news and updates to Data Studio and other products available on the Google Marketing Platform.