February 14, 2024
Written By
Rand Owens
Founding team member at Motive (Formerly KeepTruckin) and passionate about all things Marketing, RevOps, and Go-To-Market. VP of Marketing @ Polymer Search.

How to Create a Google Sheets Dashboard

This guide is an in depth walkthrough on how to create a Google Sheets dashboard.

Learn the basics, including the steps, tips and tricks, and a better alternative to creating a Google Sheets dashboards to track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Let's jump in if you’re ready to turn your raw data into actionable insights through Google Sheets dashboards.

Table of Contents

  • Google Sheets dashboards: A quick overview
  • 4 Steps to create a dashboard in Google Sheets
  • 8 Tips for creating Google Sheets dashboards
  • Google Sheets dashboard limitations
  • An alternative for creating dashboards from Google Sheets data
  • Create a Google Sheets dashboard without breaking a sweat

Google Sheets dashboards: A quick overview

Google Sheets dashboards are collections of graphs, charts, and other elements to visualize data in one place. 

Dashboards give you an overall picture of your key metrics, helping managers and other stakeholders gain insights quickly and make better data-driven decisions.

With Google Sheets dashboards, you can:

  • Centralize your data. A Google Sheets dashboard allows you to consolidate all the data in one place, making it easier to access and analyze. It is useful if you have multiple departments or teams accessing the same data.
  • Get real-time updates. You can set your dashboard Google Sheets to update in real time, reflecting new information as soon as your data changes. It is useful for making decisions quickly based on the most up-to-date information.
  • Spot trends by visualizing data. Google Sheets dashboards allow you to visualize your data using charts, graphs, and other visualizations. 

These make identifying data patterns and trends easier and help you communicate your findings to other team members and stakeholders. 

  • Allows customization. You can customize Google Sheets dashboards how you want, allowing you to create a dashboard that meets your specific needs. 

You can choose the data you want to include, the visualizations you want to use, and the dashboard layout.

  • Streamlines collaboration. Multiple users can edit and share Google Sheets dashboards, allowing your teams to work together to analyze data and make decisions. 

The dashboards can be handy if you work with remote teams or have employees working from multiple locations.

  • Cost-Effective. Google Sheets is a free tool, which means that creating a dashboard in Sheets can be a cost-effective solution for analyzing data without investing in crazy expensive data analytics tools.

4 Steps to create a dashboard in Google Sheets

Creating a Google Sheets dashboard doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing. Follow the steps to create your dashboards easily.

1. Create a database or import a dataset into Google Sheets

You need data to feed your dashboards, so the first step is to collect data, create your database, or import data into Google Sheets

You can import data from various sources into your spreadsheet to create a Google Sheets dashboard. 

For instance, you could pull data from Salesforce, MailChimp, Google Analytics, and other platforms to create a sales dashboard in Google Sheets. 

Below is a sample sales data from HubSpot. 

You can use data connector tools or apps to streamline your data import process from other platforms and business systems into your Google spreadsheet. 

Some tools allow you to update your imported data automatically, so your Google Sheets dashboards always show the latest data. 

Once you have your data on Google Sheets, consider cleaning it up first, such as sorting your tables and adding new columns. 

It’s crucial to organize data in Google Sheets first to make finding and analyzing information easier and, in turn, ensure your dashboards are informative and accurate.

2. Generate charts and other data visualizations

Now that your data is ready, start creating your dashboard charts, tables, graphs, and other visualizations. 

If you're not sure which visualizations to choose, check out our guide on good and bad examples of data visualizations.

Start by creating a new sheet and renaming it to Dashboard.

Next, create an area, bar, or column chart to visualize the data you want to track. 

For example, if you provide Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you can create an area chart to visualize the number of sign-ups to your product trials for the month.

First, select the data you want to chart, in this case, the Trials column in our sample dataset above. 

Next, click the Insert tab on the top menu and select Chart to open the Chart editor.

Under the Setup tab in the Chart editor, select Area chart as the Chart type. 

There you have it. You’ve just created your first chart for your Google Sheets dashboard. 

3. Format your charts and graphs

Customize your chart to represent your crucial data or key metrics best to create a KPI dashboard in Google Sheets (and other dashboard types). 

Double-click on the chart you generated to open the Chart editor if it’s not visible. 

Use the customization and editing tools and options in the Chart editor’s Setup and Customize tabs. 

For instance, you can add or remove cells to the current data range included in your chart under the Setup tab. 

You can customize your chart’s background, border, font colors, title text and style, add a series, gridlines, legends, and more. 

Customize your chart and data visualization with the Chart editor tools. 

4. Build your dashboard

After creating and customizing your graphs and other visual elements, copy and paste them to the Dashboard sheet you created earlier. 

Place all the charts, visualizations, and dashboard elements in the same sheet and organize them based on your desired layout. 

You can create a dynamic dashboard in Google Sheets by adding a slicer to allow users to filter your charts and tables. 

Select the column with the data you want to filter in your dashboard or the Leads column in our sample dataset. 

Click the Data tab on the Google Sheets top menu and select Add a slicer from the drop-down list. 

You should see the Slicer side pane on the right side of your screen.

Change your slicer’s appearance under the Customize tab. You can customize the font size, style, format, and text and background color. 

Add as many slicers to your dashboard as you want. 

Put everything together in your Dashboard sheet, and you should build comprehensive and dynamic dashboards that give you an overview of your key data and KPIs.

Also, leverage Google Sheets features such as functions, formulas, formatting options, and other tools to create dynamic charts and build your dashboard.  

If you don’t want to build a dashboard from scratch, use free Google Sheets dashboard templates you can easily customize.

Templates allow you to customize data and elements to make the dashboards your own with ease. 

You can also get inspiration from Google Sheets dashboard examples available online.   

8 Tips for creating Google Sheets dashboards

Below are several tips to help you create dashboards in Google Sheets effectively and efficiently. 

1. Plan your dashboard

Before creating your Google sheet dashboard, decide on the key metrics and data points you want to display. 

Think about your audience and the specific information most useful to them. 

Consider sketching a rough design for your dashboard, including the layout and color scheme, to help guide your dashboard creation process.  

2. Keep it simple 

A dashboard should be easy to read and understand at a glance. 

Avoid cluttering your dashboard with too much information, charts, graphs, and other visual elements. 

You can be creative but don’t go overboard. Design your dashboard to be cohesive while highlighting crucial information. 

3. Use conditional formatting 

Utilize conditional formatting to highlight critical information on your dashboard. 

For example, use color coding to draw attention to trends or outliers in your data. 

Ensure your color coding matches your dashboard’s overall look so it aligns visually with all the other elements. 

4. Update your dashboard regularly 

Your dashboard should be a living document that gets regular updates. 

Set up your data sources to automatically refresh and update your dashboard on a schedule. 

Doing so keeps your dashboards accurate and allows all users to view and use real-time data. 

5. Make your dashboards interactive 

Use drop-down menus, checkboxes, and other interactive elements to allow users to filter and explore your data. 

Interactive dashboard elements help you and other users find the needed information quickly and get multiple views of your data in one central location. 

6. Choose the right chart types

Use the appropriate chart types for the data you want to display. 

For example, a line chart is useful for displaying trends over time, while a pie chart is good for showing proportions.

7. Test your dashboard

Before sharing your dashboard with others, test it thoroughly to ensure it is accurate and easy to use. 

Get feedback from others to make improvements.

8. Protect your data 

Protect your dashboard with appropriate permissions and access controls if it contains sensitive information.

For instance, you can password-protect your spreadsheet or set access controls to Viewing only when sharing your Google sheet. 

Google Sheets dashboard limitations

Google Sheets is a versatile and widely used tool for data analysis, and it offers useful features for creating dashboards to visualize and communicate data insights. 

However, there are also several limitations to using Google Sheets for dashboards, including the following:

  • Limited customization options. While Google Sheets offers some basic customization options for charts and tables, it may not be sufficient for advanced customization needs. 

You could be better off switching to tools such as Polymer to achieve more complex visualizations.

  • Limited data processing capabilities. Google Sheets can handle moderate amounts of data but often struggles with large datasets, especially when performing complex calculations or analyses. 

Handling larger data can slow loading times and limit your Google Sheets dashboard’s overall usability.

  • Lack of real-time updates. Google Sheets dashboards are usually static and require manual updating, which can be time-consuming and error-prone.  

While you can write code using Google Apps Script to schedule data updates, the process requires coding knowledge and expertise. 

If manual updates or coding automatic data updates are not your forte, using Google Sheets to create dashboards can be challenging, especially when constantly monitoring changing data.

  • Limited collaboration features. While Google Sheets allows for collaboration among multiple users, there are limitations to how users can work together on a dashboard. 

For example, tracking changes made by various collaborators or sharing customized dashboard views can be challenging. 

Google Sheets can also limit the number of users that access your dashboard simultaneously or the level of access granted to each user. 

  • Security and privacy concerns. Google Sheets faces common data security and privacy issues like most cloud-based tools, especially if you include sensitive data in your dashboard. 

Take steps to store your data securely and restrict access to authorized users to help protect your data. 

  • Limited data size. Google Sheets limits the amount of data you can store in a single sheet. It can limit the amount of data you use in a dashboard, which means you must use multiple sheets or external data sources.
  • Minimal interactivity features. While Google Sheets dashboards allow for basic interactivity, such as filtering and sorting data, they do not offer more advanced features, including drill-downs, animations, or complex interactions.
  • Limited scalability. Processing and rendering data quickly can be hard for Google Sheets as your dashboard’s data and complexity increase. These can lead to performance issues.

Google Sheets can be useful for creating simple dashboards, but it’s not always the best choice for more complex or data-intensive projects. 

Carefully consider the limitations and potential drawbacks before deciding whether to use Google Sheets for your dashboard needs.

An alternative for creating dashboards from Google Sheets data

If your dashboarding needs go far beyond what Google Sheets can offer, opt for reliable Business Intelligence (BI) tools with robust data visualization features. 

One such tool is Polymer, a sophisticated BI tool with intuitive features and functionalities. 

The tool can simplify and streamline how you work with your data, from data manipulation, reporting, and analysis to visualization. 

The best part is that it doesn’t take a lot of effort or complex technical setups to get your Google Sheets data into Polymer and create data visualizations and dashboards. 

After you create a free Polymer account, you can quickly pull your spreadsheet data into Polymer. 

Click the Add Source button and choose Google Sheets as your connector. 

Select the spreadsheet and Google sheet containing the data you want, and Polymer imports the file into your workspace within seconds. 

Once you have your data in your Polymer workspace, you can extract insights, create reports, generate graphs, and build your dashboard. 

For instance, the app instantly generated the time series chart below of the Sum of Leads by Date with one click.

Customize your charts, tables, and dashboards easily with Polymer’s data insights and visualization features. 

You can create filters, select block sizes for your visualizations, and move them up or down to lay out your charts and graphs accordingly.

Save your visualizations or Views with a single click, add collaborators via email, and set access controls, such as configuring restrictions or passwords to protect your shared data and projects.  

Create a Google Sheets dashboard without breaking a sweat

Building a dashboard in Google Sheets is an effective and efficient way to stay on top of your essential KPIs and uncover data insights quickly.  

Create a simple yet fully functional Google Sheets dashboard that meets your specific needs while streamlining your decision-making process.

Take your dashboarding efforts to new heights with Polymer. 

The tool’s advanced but user-friendly tools make creating your data reports, visualizations, and dashboards seamless and hassle-free.  

Discover the feature-packed BI tool that is Polymer with a free trial.

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