Coffee, then more coffee: a refreshing redesign of my National Coffee Day graphic

Partway through the semester, I celebrated National Coffee Day by visualizing my coffee consumption (so far!) that semester:

(A bigger vector version is on my website.)

Early in November, I got a cool surprise when Raven McKnight made her own version of the coffee graph:

Bigger version:


I am a huge fan of this remake: it solves several of the problems with my original design, and provides a very familiar snapshot of student life.

I love, love, love the red circles around the first cup of the day and the indication of when McKnight normally gets up. (5:30 AM? Yikes.) One of the problems with my original design was the implication that I get up at 7AM every day:

Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 11.05.18 AM

I do not! I usually do my best work in the late evening/middle of the night, so I get up at 9 or 10 if I don’t have morning class/commitments. (Unfortunately, I did not keep records of when I woke up in the morning, so I couldn’t note it in the chart.) I tried to address this this in an early version of my chart by plotting hours since the day’s first cup of coffee instead of the time of each cup of coffee:


However, I wanted the graphic to be understood at a glance on social media, so I decided to cut it down to one image that would read well in a Twitter preview. “Coffee at 4:15 PM” also felt more intuitive to me than “five hours since first cup of coffee.”

The annotations on McKnight’s graphic are really endearing, andaddress one of the comments on the original:

Screen Shot 2019-12-01 at 11.05.28 AM

A cluster of cups when coffee was free, an early-morning flight, a failed all-nighter… sounds familiar!

The biggest difference in our designs was the way we connected the dots. I connected cups within a day, imitating a coffee drip, while McKnight connected the first cup of each day but not cups within a day, making a cool chart-within-a-chart. I think my version makes it easy to see unusual days, like the weekend I took off in early September, or my failure to launch on September 26. McKnight’s version makes it easier to see general patterns, because there’s less visual clutter in the way. I don’t think there is a right or wrong design here, but it is interesting to see what kinds of comparisons are facilitated with each design!

It was really fun to see someone else’s take on my design, and I love McKnight’s enhancements. I hope she got some sleep over Thanksgiving! You can find more of her work on her website, and follow her on Twitter at ravenissoraven.

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