Calendars are essential. They help locate us in the endless river of time, casting a net around the slippery fish of now. Their design can be whimsical or humorous, pragmatic or poetic, cute or clever. You’d think we’d have run out of new and interesting ways to present the days of the year, but no. Not even close.
In our work, we use calendars to present chronological data, and are always interested in how the format supports the story that’s being told. So as an experiment, we took some old project data and recast it in two new configurations.
Here’s the original calendar we made showing an employee’s missed days of work:
Here is the same data presented in a horizontal month-by-month layout. We added a second frame that emphasizes how few full weeks the person worked.
I like this design for its compact form, and the sliding effect created by the staggered month lines. But it de-emphasizes the week, which is, after all, the basic rhythmic unit of employment. It’s also graphically somewhat inefficient in that every date must be notated in order to make the chart legible.
This format solves those problems:
The vertical orientation is a bit challenging for slides or boards (or even this website!), which tend to be landscape format, but overall I think this configuration presents the data the most clearly. There is no discontinuity between the months and the work weeks are strongly defined. Even better, there is a minimum of graphic clutter, allowing the data to take center stage.