Glass Table Design: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Champion

Stop. Before you start adding KPIs to your brand new glass table, make sure you’ve done your homework on design principles.

A day in your life

You've just spent hours creating relevant KPIs and now it's time to present the final result to your management team. You think you have completely understood the requirements of your users. You can now fully monitor the health of your service (and each individual component), and even predict service interruptions before they even occur.

You iron your best shirt because you know that the presentation is going to be a success. Picture this: "I can now predict interruptions" or “I have negative SLAs!”. What’s not to like? You’re convinced a bonus awaits you. You might even be able to afford some vacation in Tahiti. 

But Wait! No WOW effect… Why? A parameter is missing from the equation: the human factor!

Your audience may not have understood the context. They see a glass table for the first time and all they see is complicated indicators, without being able to understand the value it brings to their teams or the company. But this may be due to a problem of form and not of substance.

You think that design is a matter of taste and that only substance counts? Think again! Data visualization techniques are essential, and the journey in data visualization started centuries ago and continues to this day. To get to the substance you have to go through the form. But don't worry, all you need is Splunk ITSI to monitor your services (get the KPIs) through a glass table, a simple tool such as PowerPoint (or any equivalent), an image search engine (Google, Qwant…) and read this blog that presents you with some basic rules.

A brief history of data visualization and why it matters

Data visualization dates back as far as the Lascaux cave over 16,000 years ago! (data = a star map, visualization = points on the wall). And no, organizing data in columns and rows does not date back to Excel but to the second century CE. Below are some important dates to help you understand that this is neither new nor ephemeral; how to present data is an important subject and always will be. As proof, I urge you to visit this website which presents a graphic overview of the events in the history of data visualization.

Data Visualisation History

Data visualization (let’s call it “dataviz”) also matters. According to a study by Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences, the human brain can process entire images (and find concepts) in 13 milliseconds. So the more graphical your glass table is, the faster your audience will process it. Every millisecond counts when we talk about application availability.

I hope you’re now convinced that dataviz is something to be taken seriously, and the good news is that it doesn’t require any rocket science.  Let’s take a look at the top 10 principles of design you may want to follow in order to obtain the “WOW” effect.

In our next article, we will share the top 10 glass table tips to boost your career! Stay tuned!


Stephane comes with 20+ years experience in Product Management and Product Marketing. He has worked in startups as large as 150 employees and enterprises with up to 180,000 personnel. 20 years may sound like a long time, but it's been great. :)

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