Google Data Studio

How to Make the Most out of Calculated Fields in Google Data Studio

Your Guide to Google Data Studio Calculated Fields

To understand how to make the most out of the calculated fields in Google Data Studio, you first have to understand what Google Data Studio is. Google Data Studio is a free tool from Google that makes your data into informative, easy to read, easy to share, and fully customizable dashboards and reports. You can use the drag and drop feature to:

  • Tell the story of your data using charts – line, bar, and pie charts, geo maps, area and bubble graphs, paginated data tables, pivot tables, and others
  • Make your reports interactive – using filters and data range controls, Data control – makes any report into a flexible template report that anyone can use to view their own data
  • Add links and clickable images – used to make product catalogs, video libraries, and other hyperlinked content
  • Add text and images – to annotate and brand your reports 
  • Include styles and color themes – to make your reports data visualization art pieces

You can also view your data in seconds by using Google Data Studio templates. You can then use these templates to easily visualize your data in a completed report.  In Google Data Studio you can also report on data from a variety of sources, without the need to program anything. The types of datasets you can connect to include:

  • Databases, such as BigQuery, MySQL, and PostgreSQL
  • Google Marketing Platform products - Google Ads, Analytics, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360
  • Google consumer products - Sheets, YouTube, Search Console Flat files via CSV file upload and Google Cloud Storage
  • Social media platforms - Facebook, Reddit, Twitter
  • Any blended data from a combination of related sources

Google Data Studio also makes it easy to share and collaborate your findings with individuals, teams, or the world. You are able to invite others to observe or edit your reports or just send them links in scheduled emails. Your reports can also be embedded into other pages, including Google Sites, blog posts, marketing articles, and annual reports. Just like any other Google consumer products (Sheets, Slides, and Docs), you are able to work together in real time with another editor that you have shared your Data Studio file with. 

If you are using Data Studio for business, the enterprise features allow Cloud Identity and Google Workspace administrators to manage and control the access to Data Studio assets.

An image of a man looking at printed out documents. 
Using Google Data Studio can make viewing your data more efficient than looking at printed pages of data.

What are Calculated Fields?

A calculated field in Google Data Studio is a formula which performs some action on one or more fields within your data source. These calculated fields can either execute arithmetic and math, manipulate text, date, and geographic information, and use branching logic to evaluate your data and give you different results. Based on the output of a calculated field it can be displayed for each row of data in charts which include that field. Depending on how the new data is used determines how it is displayed.

An image showing how to create calculated fields 
An example of what to click on to create data source calculated fields in Google Data Studio. Image courtesy of MeasureSchool.

Types of Calculated Fields

There are two different types of calculated fields, which are data source fields and chart-specific fields. These calculated fields are based on where they are created. Each one offers different advantages over the other. The advantages of the data source fields are that the calculated fields are available for use in any report which uses that data source—they can be used in charts, controls, and other calculated fields just like any other regular field, and you are able to filter these calculated fields like any regular field. However, the disadvantages of the data source calculated fields are that you are not able to use them with blended data and that you need to have edit rights in order to create or edit calculated fields. 

Moving onto the second type of calculated fields. The chart-specific fields allow you to add calculated fields directly into a chart in your report. This type of field can also be called a chart-level calculated field. An advantage of the chart-specific calculated fields are that they can do math, use functions, and return results based CASE statements, which is the same for data source calculated fields. 

Specific advantages for the chart-specific calculated fields are that you are able to quickly and easily add fields without needing to use the data source, you are able to make chart-specific calculated fields based on blended data, and you are able to include the data source calculated fields in chart-specific calculated fields. However, the disadvantages to using a chart-specific calculated field are that they only exist in the chart where they were created, just because a chart was made in the field does not mean it was created in the chart’s data source. Additionally you are unable to reference other chart-specific fields in your formula even if those fields are within the same chart, and you must be an editor of the report in order to make chart-specific calculated fields.

Helpful Ways to Use Calculated Fields

Calculated fields can be used to answer questions that could not be answered with your data in its current state. Some helpful ways to use these calculated fields include:

  • Making new metrics
  • Tracking progress to goals 
  • Combining dimensions
  • Removing trailing slashes 
  • Keeping case consistent
  • Removing query parameters

Remember with calculated fields you are able to perform calculations, create categories, or transform your data.

Data Cleansing

If you are looking for a way to take your data to the next level and clean it up so it is actually useful, look no further UXAX can help with that. At UXAX they will take your data set and manipulate it in a way it can actually be useful for you. They can take a messy document and change up the fundamentals so you can gain valuable insights from your data. 

This is very beneficial because messy data is unuseful and how your data is organized can make a big difference when trying to analyze it. If your data is not clean it can skew the results, since it may not be totally accurate. You can even request a free UX (user experience) analysis of your site. 

A graphic of data being cleaned with a broom
When data is cleaned it can be more useful and show more accurate results. Image courtesy of UXAX.

Enhancing User Experience Through Data 

UXAX compiled a list of their top 4 tips for leveraging data to create an impactful user experience. These 4 tips include:

  • Creating user personas 
  • Beginning to define the task models
  • Redesigning the user experience
  • Conducting a heuristic evaluation - involves finding the usability problems in a UI (user interface) design

There are three questions you can ask yourself if you begin using data-driven UX. These questions are why is data important for this particular design, how can you efficiently collect useful data, and what is the right way to use data once you have collected it. These questions are crucial to ask yourself if you are looking to use data-driven UX.

Remember that just like with any other kind of software, the ways to make the most out of your experience depends on how you use the software. In order to make the most out of the calculated fields in Google Data Studio depends on how you plan to use Data Studio. 

December 2, 2022
by 
Elizabeth Grobstein
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