I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to best communicate to a non-technical user the concept of a 'data snapshot'. A bit of background on what I'm trying to do:
Our analytics application takes in data snapshots (this snapshot includes historical data up to the snapshot time) - the user is then able to do various analysis on the data. The key conceptual complication as far as usability goes is that the snapshot time point might be completely different from the current period. For example, the snapshot could have been taken in February 2011 (middle of Q1) while the current time is June 2011 (end of Q2). It is really important to communicate to the user that what they are looking at is not the 'live' view of their data but rather what it looked like during the time of the snapshot. A further complication is that a lot of the analytic measures (KPIs) are rates and are period sensitive (meaning that early in the period the rate might not be very informative because the quarter just started and the rate is easily offset by small changes in the counts)
I was trying to come up with some phrases to clearly tell the user what the 'Feb 2011' date means and was curious if these were still not user-centric enough: "last data update", "includes data until or up to", "data freshness", "data date". I'm hesitant to include anything with the word "current" in it (such as "current quarter") because the user might confuse this with the real current time and think the application has a bug or something!
Regarding the period sensitive KPIs and need to inform the user that the rates might be 'immature' due to the snapshot being very early in the quarter, I was thinking of including a little progress bar to indicate how much of the period (quarter) has been completed.