technology

Dream Calendar App: Visualizing Time

The main area of improvement I see for current calendar apps is the visualization of time. In my previous sketch, I’m representing my schedule with two clocks (one for AM and PM). The problem with this is that it doesn’t do a good job of communicating the continuity of time. There are a lot of things to consider. I found an excellent post by Doug McCune with lots of nuggets about this topic. . He begins by identifying two main challenges: continuity and personal context. Both of these are quite applicable to designing a good calendar app. He wraps up this section, saying:

He goes on to discuss various representations like line charts, circular charts, spiral charts, and more. He specifically addresses using two clocks to show a day’s worth of data and brings up its problems:

The biggest problem with the chart is the incorrect continuity. A single clock on its own isn’t a continuous range, it’s really only half a range. So the clock on the left is showing 12am – 12pm, but when you reach the end of the circle the data doesn’t continue on like the representation shows. Instead you need to jump over to the second clock and continue on around. It’s difficult to see the ranges right around both 12pm and 12am, since you lose context in one direction or another (and worse, you get the incorrect context from the bordering bubbles).

I recognize this, but I’m still on the fence as to whether this is enough to throw out the clock metaphor entirely. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating read with great insights. Although his goals are different from mine, there are many things I can learn from his piece.

I also found a gallery of time-oriented visualizations that will hopefully spark some ideas as I continue to explore this calendar app idea.

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