Building a dashboard that pulls large amount of network information from various data sources, each with different timestamps.


  • attribute A is realtime,
  • attribute B is updated 10 mins ago,
  • Attribute C is updated 2 hours ago,

the challenges presented is user at the moment view these attributes on the dashboard all as most recent, the timing of the data is quite important for userse to make a decision as that is used to resolve network issues. I had later added tooltips to each attribute to inform attributes timestamp, however that is still a bad user experience as users need to however each attribute every time and it was too intensive of an interaction.

ideally the system is real time or collecting data at the same time interval, but that is very unlikely as those back end systems are all different platforms.

If I had to frame the problem it would be "How might I inform users of different piece of data with varying time delays?"

If anyone has any ideas or has came across this sort of problem please let me know.


3 Answers 3


That depends upon rest of your interface and how data is displayed. You can comminicate this:
- with small clock icon and text next to it "updated before XX time"
- with shades of green/grey color, combine with text information, where green is the latest / freshest
- with setting time filters on your list ...


I have one project with exactly the same dashboard with two types of data: updated once per minute (hopefully) and instantly.

I came up to decision to show the time of data arrival:

  • Temperature: 26° [11:21]
  • Value 1: 771 [11:21]
  • Value 2: 12 [11:25]
  • Live value: 111 [11:31]

I did that for purpose:

  • As Im not sure device is off or its just working fine but can’t send data, I can’t actually evaluate current state and answer is there any problems or not?

  • Even if I could, showing last arrival time for data (it’s a telemetry) lets user to evaluate situation from a "human point of view" applying common sense. More info - better understating whats going on.

If I have to draw a graph, I would put empty areas on it: you see values on time scale but there is no graph for that time meaning "there is no data for this period"


It definitely depends on how the rest of the interface is designed, and how the data is displayed, because that will determine what visual styling or interface elements can be used to encode this detail.

For example, you can represent the recency of the information in a number of different ways:

  • exact time of last update
  • time elapsed since last update
  • time until next update

Both icons and colours can be used to represent the magnitude of the value, such that the size of the icon and the intensity of the colours (or both) can be used to help encode the most recent set of value(s).

An interesting (but perhaps also distracting) way to show this information could be a small animation that is like a heartbeat or pulse that is relative to the magnitude of the values that are being presented.

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