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On a web app that I am building, one of the screens need to show, for a month period, the number of events on each day.

I've tried the following:

  1. Showing the information on a calendar. This feels a bit awkward since, for each cell, I'm showing two numbers (the day of the month and the number of events).

  2. Removing the day of the month from the calendar. This has the drawback of making it harder for the users in case they want to look at a specific day.

  3. Using a bar graph with the days of the month on the X-axis and the number of events on the y-axis. The problem with this approach is that the number of events doesn't change that much across days making the graph look strange.

Do you have any suggestions?

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What's the purpose of showing these numbers ? What other information is displayed on the days ? –  Alok Jain Jul 27 '13 at 1:27
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4 Answers

Why don't just use schedule-like view? The advantages are:

  • it saves the space as empty dates are not shown
  • it is informative, as there are event names and links

calendar

It also could be shortened to:
calendar
Note, the dots are not only counted easily (up to 5-6 is okay), but form a bargraph pattern!

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I like your second approach but I don't feel it would be a good fit for my use case because of the data pattern that I am expecting: most likely I will have 6 to 10 events each day which, as you pointed out, might not be easy to read –  brunocostalopes Jul 25 '13 at 20:11
    
So you need more to show exactly count or just visualize the day load (i.e. fast grasp load)? Please clarify your primary goal. –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 25 '13 at 20:52
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You can add a square/bar per day and that way it's less distracting than having many numbers on the screen and you have visibility of how many event you have. If you wanted to expand the functionality you can add "tag colors" per event.

cal

If you have more than 4 events per day, then I would recommend using numbers. Nothing bad with that, just as long as the distinction is clear. In the example below I used the classic calendar box that has an outline around the number and then ha fold as a "peek" of what is inside.

i.e.

enter image description here

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I feel like that for my data pattern, this will have the same issues as the solution provided by Alexey. With 6-10 events expected per day this might become difficult to read. –  brunocostalopes Jul 25 '13 at 20:19
    
I added an alternative to your problem, hope it helps! –  Rosie Jul 26 '13 at 10:06
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Since you are trying to display content in a domain the user is already familiar with: Stick to the analogy of a real calendar as you would find it hanging in your office.

Suggestion 1

Augment the calendar with some abstract visuals (as in dots, no data specific content). There are some iOS apps out there which really enhance the calendar experience of the simplified apple calendar app. Like this one. The more dots a day has, the more it sticks out compared to other days, giving the user an instant visual cue on "hotspots".

Suggestion 2

If it is not mandatory to display the number of events, but you still want to visualize that some days have more and others less events, enhance or decrease the font size of the date depending on the number of events on that day. As does the Blackberry OS in its calendar app.

Hope I could help you ;-)

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Perhaps you can use shapes to represent how many events on that day. This method will be effective for days with less than probably 10 events.

The number of dimension of the shape represent the number of events.

E.g. 4th Feb have 4 events 8 Feb have 3 events

enter image description here

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1  
That's some nice 'outside the box' thinking here, and - despite there being quite a learning curve here (it's not immediately instinctive by any means) - it could work quite well as a concept. It might start to look pretty cluttered though if every day has an event going on. –  JonW Jul 25 '13 at 11:14
    
I thought about a similar approach but using a heat map, where the days with more events would have a darker background and the days with less events would have a lighter background. The problem of this approach is that I feel like I am obfuscating the most important piece of information: the number of events. –  brunocostalopes Jul 25 '13 at 20:06
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