How to tell a story with aggregated data – even on a small scale

June 23, 2020


Jan Madsen

Technology Used: Ignition 8.0, the Perspective Module

Client’s problem

The client uses the Ignition platform to monitor and control a set up consisting of a single device connected to a temperature sensor and a heater. The business need: Use a smartphone to access, control and analyse the set-up.

The “problem” was to present historical data as simple as possible. It should be smooth and understandable for anybody to explore. The data in question is: for a given time period a Min & Max temperature + how many hours the heater has operated. 

The Ignition platform collects data with a 10-second resolution, and one easy solution is to present data directly from the Tag Historian to a trend chart. But the user is adamant about having a simple overview, providing essential information. A diagram would require some scrolling, which is not perceived as an intuitive and easy solution.

Our solution

We created the solution in the Ignition Perspective Module as a web app. That means the solution is viewed in the smartphone’s web browser and is therefore independent of the operating system.

The aggregation contains three pre-defined time periods, all easily accessible from the home screen: Day, week and month. This way, aggregated data tell the story about performance related to the latest day, week or month.

This image is a screenshot, which shows part of the section. The “Day” button provides the user with data concerning the last 24 hours.

When pressing the “Week” or “Month” buttons, Ignition aggregates the relevant data and presents it per week or month respectively.

Client’s benefit

There are two distinct benefits to this solution design:

Tell the story of data

Instead of showing the raw data, e.g. in a table or a graph, this is an example of how to use aggregated data to tell the story in the simplest possible way. The mantra is to show valuable information in a simple, yet efficient way instead of having access to all the collected data. 

This approach increases the user experience with easy access to crucial details, instead of scrolling through more massive amounts of data or comprehensive graphs.

Easy use 

We built the overall solution with essential design elements and functions used in apps worldwide. This way, any smartphone user can use the app, and will intuitively recognise the functionality.

The fact that the design environment is so intuitive and familiar, it feels safe, and encourages the typical human behaviour: “I wonder what happens if I click here.” The result is that more users will interact with the functionality.

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