More Feedback Wanted: Crowd Calendar Appearance

by 68 Comments

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First, I offer a hearty thanks to those of you who voted and commented on the recent Feedback Wanted: Crowd Calendar Appearance blog post. I am grateful that we have so many intelligent and thoughtful customers who are willing to take a few minutes to help improve our product!

As a group, you shared many different ideas, and it’s no surprise that contradictory preferences exist in such a large and diverse community. Our goal with these changes is to reduce misunderstandings with our statistically generated crowd level predictions.

You will see some of your suggestions incorporated in screenshots below. There are formatting changes, and we tried to present additional information that helps with planning. Keep in mind, of course, that with more lines of information, more scrolling may be required to find your dates.

As before, please vote on your favorite crowd calendar prototype and offer additional feedback in the comments. And thanks again for your help!

Please note that the wait times, crowd levels, park recommendations, and other data displayed below are completely fictional.

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D

Which of the three Crowd Calendar variants do you prefer?

  • Option D - Crowd Levels, Hours (with EMH), and Wait Times (77%, 486 Votes)
  • Option B - Crowd Levels and Wait Times (13%, 80 Votes)
  • Option C - Crowd Levels, Hours, and Wait Times (7%, 42 Votes)
  • Option A - Wait Times Only (3%, 20 Votes)

Total Voters: 628

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Posted on July 16, 2012

68 Responses to “More Feedback Wanted: Crowd Calendar Appearance”

  • With better (lower contrast) colors, option D would be even better.

    • by David Davies on July 16, 2012, at 3:31 pm EST

      Although finding the right ones can be tricky, colors are easy to change; the idea is that we would separate off those chunks of the cell with background colors.

  • I feel like option D is so awesome it doesn’t need Best/Avoid columns

    • Agreed. If you leave the red and green in the wait times then you could eliminate the best/avoid colums and still have all the information in front of you.

  • I actually much prefer it without the estimated wait times. The crowd level alone has made all of my trips amazing for the last several years, and I don’t find the specific estimated times all that accurate. Having them only serves to muddle the appearance of the other more useful info. I could see how other people could want to see it. Maybe there’s a way to let a user be able to choose whether they want that additional info or not?

    Thank you for all you do! I’ve been a member for many years & am so grateful for your efforts!

    • I agree, I don’t think the estimated lines are very helpful for this first glance screen. I’d rather see the crowd levels and hours when glancing at the calendar and then look more in depth if I wanted estimated waits.

      • I agree with Madison on everything!…I don’t think the wait times are at all helpful in the scenario. I love having the EMH hours in option “D”

  • I agree with Brian – those two columns for best/avoid seem redundant. Downside to removing them: it would get rid of some space for notes that you’re using in D (“Summer Break Begins”).

  • Two comments from me:
    1) With the color-coding of the individual park wait times, I don’t believe the “Best” and “Avoid” columns are necessary. I suggest eliminating them entirely to save a good chunk of space.
    2) The color coding needs to be changed. Red/Green is the most common form of Color-blindness. I realize that it’s intrinsic to ‘normal’ sighted people, (green = go, red = stop) but it’s 100% useless to those afflicted with color blindness.

    • by David Davies on July 16, 2012, at 3:33 pm EST

      Yes, if we were to remove the best and avoid columns (which many of you seem to favor), we’d need to do something different (other colors, backgrounds, shading, boxes, etc.) to show the park recommendations.

  • Is NOT putting this information on the list up for discussion? I saw lots of people in the last blog entry saying they’d rather not see this info on this list.

    There are so many rides at each park. And obviously you can’t list them all here. So, you’re just taking the most popular and listing those. What if the person viewing this list doesn’t care about those rides, but they do care about other rides?

    I think you are trying to accomplish too much in too little a space.

    If anything, leave the Crowd Level for each park, but leave the wait times out of the list. (Maybe include a link to wait times, but not show them).

    • by David Davies on July 16, 2012, at 3:42 pm EST

      Our goal with the proposed changes is to make it clearer what crowd levels mean. Since our crowd levels are based on wait times, presenting sample wait times seemed like a reasonable way to do this. Unfortunately, providing links to detailed information about how our crowd levels are calculated has not been sufficient.

      Based on suggestions here and in the previous post, we’ll consider offering some sort of alternative view for people who don’t want to see the wait times or other details.

      • I have to agree with Adam and the others who believe that not having that information on that page is the way to go. I believe adding it there creates too much clutter. Additionally, IMHO it’s confusing more than it helps since TP went away from a “peak wait times” approach to a percentile approach for the crowd calendar.

        If you absolutely must do it then I’d go with A, but I think this proposed change is a step back.

  • This is information overload. Way too much in such a small space. I really don’t see the point of having wait times on the calendar.

    Might I suggest an actual calendar format? http://i.imgur.com/2nXt1.jpg

  • Thanks for the revised suggestions.

    I voted for D. Park hours including EMH is a really good addition.

    You might want to add a key along the lines of
    “Hours (+EMH), Crowd level”
    in the header.

    With the extra width in option D you might even have room for the m’s in am and pm :-) .

  • by Andrew Drummond on July 16, 2012, at 2:04 pm EST

    I’ve got to side on the “wait time team” I think the estimated wait times do a lot to fix the confusion some people have about the crowd calendar number.

    Of the options presented, I think it’s between B and D.

    I don’t like the separation in the bar in C.

    Also, I think that the Best/Worst column is needed because it will not always be obvious from the wait times, particularly with the 7 day rule.

    All of that said. Any of these are great.

  • by Andrew Ferrillo on July 16, 2012, at 2:07 pm EST

    I love option D, but how about a toggle button to switch between option D and a simpler crowd calendar for those who don’t need to see wait times displayed?

  • I agree with some of the other posters that I’d prefer not to have the rides with noon queue time listed. I do find the succinct best park and parts to avoid helpful, though, especially if I am correct that because of the rule of every park being “best park” at least once every 7 days, the park listed with the lowest crowd may not be your “Best” part of the day.

  • I love the addition of park hours. I agree with some of the pervious commenters that the best and worst parks don’t really seam to be needed since the wait times are color coded as well. As long as there was a key so people know what the color coding means.

  • by Isabelle Boivin on July 16, 2012, at 2:27 pm EST

    Congrats and thanks for all you do…. and taking time to check some feedback. I wish more conpagny would work like this. Awwsome work.

  • Agreed that D is the best as presented. LOVE having the times and the individual per-park crowd levels all displayed on the main page. I was just starting up my plan for our next trip, and clicking back and forth on so many days made it much more time-consuming and confusing for me. I ended up making my own Excel grid so that I could see it all in one place and make my choices more easily.

    Personally I don’t even look at the estimated wait times, so for me that’s overkill, but I think for people who are newer to the idea of touring plans that it’s helpful.

    I also have to chime in with the person who pointed out the red/green color-blindness issue. As a person who works in web optimization, using red/green as the only denotation of bad/good is a no-no in web UI. It’s OK since you have the columns listing the best/avoid parks for each day, but if you follow the suggestion of some users and drop those columns, you need to figure out a different way to denote best/worst in the individual park columns. (Possibly boxing or shading the “best” parks for each day and leaving the “avoid” parks un-shaded would be an option to explore.)

    I also agree with the person who said that the blue in the headers is too high-contrast for easy readability and with the person who said that D with its lack of separation in the header bar.

    • Totally agree. And, we don’t always have access to a color printer! So some other easy way to distinguish good-go/bad-avoid (such as BOLD vs regular, or shaded vs not shaded, or…?) that would show up in black/white (otherwise known as grey scale: think old black and white TVs – at least some of us are old enough to remember ;)) AND would be accessible for those of us who are color blind.

  • by Brian Sennett on July 16, 2012, at 2:32 pm EST

    I voted for D, but I feel the blues of the park hours could be less bright, it would be much easier to read.

  • I like D for the park hours + EMH but don’t need the wait times for popular rides at noon. I’d never get in any of those lines at noon! Agreed with the red/green issue, it’s very hard for me to distinguish between the two on the small font.

  • by Meredith Koeval on July 16, 2012, at 2:48 pm EST

    I love the addition of the hours and the crowd levels! I voted for Option D. I know many people are saying that the Best/Worst parks may not need to be listed but I like it. It helps those who would like to plan their days based solely on Best/Avoid parks.

  • Love all the info in Option D, and it has more “white space” around the times than Option C, making it easier to read. Agree with other comments that the colors could be toned down a bit. Thanks for all your work. We use this info constantly when we visit the parks!

  • by DisneyDustin on July 16, 2012, at 3:00 pm EST

    Love the addition of park hours, but think the best/avoid is redundant with the color coding of the park levels.

    I don’t think having the additional ‘Wait Times at Noon’ data adds much to the overview page — we preach to people that those major attractions are usually the ones to do first thing /late during the day, or with fast passes, so do we really care what wait times are at noon? Any optimized touring plan would have you probably avoiding those attractions at that time anyways.

    If those additional attraction times go away, I think it’ll be very nice and simplified. Also… we don’t need (out of 10) on every line — handle it in the header.

    Check it out for example:
    http://www.verdininteractive.com/touringplans/TP_Crowds.png

    • by David Davies on July 16, 2012, at 3:53 pm EST

      Thanks for producing the mock-up. What you created was very clean, and I hope to be able to adapt some of your ideas. It’s great to have skilled designers among our customer base!

      I mentioned this in the comments to the last blog post, but many people use the crowd calendar but not touring plans (even though touring plans are much more important!). Listing wait times is an effort to provide a clear and tangible indicator of what the listed crowd level means so that expectations are more aligned with reality.

      • by DisneyDustin on July 16, 2012, at 4:50 pm EST

        David,

        Agreed that among ‘non-TP savvy’ folks, there may be a need for more understanding of what the crowd levels mean. I’m just not sure if the noon attraction wait times are the best representation of this….. To me, the translation of crowd level is more about when exactly the the main attractions hit their peak times, and then how long it maintains them – as well as the understanding that on those high crowd level days, it’s the ancillary attractions which see the heightened wait times and truly show the park is at or beyond capacity.

        AKA, You may wait 2 hours at noon to ride Soarin’ on a level 4 or level 8 day…. the difference is whether that 2 hour wait continues all day, or if after you ride Soarin’ you’re also going to wait 20 minutes to ride Imagination (that to me says high crowd level day)

        Sorry to ramble, just my $.02

        • Amen! I would love if the determinant factor in the crowd calendar wasn’t the peak wait time (which is not a very useful number) but the area under the wait time curve – that would give a much better idea of how crowded the park is over the whole day.

    • Love the mock up. This is exactly how I arrange my travel info when I am planning.

    • Awesome mockup, love the blocking and info was great!

    • LOVE!!!!!!

      It would be perfect if there were a button beside to drill down to what those wait times actually mean…there if you want it, clean if you dont!

  • As someone else mentioned above, you should allow the website user the option to toggle including this info on the crowd calendar, or not. As we can see from the comments, some people will find this info useful, some won’t. So let each site user choose.

  • by Keith LeLievre on July 16, 2012, at 3:15 pm EST

    I like to follow the KISS(Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule, but it appears that I am in the VAST minority here. Aesthetically, I think C and D are too busy, and between A and B I have to say A because I don’t think you need the crowd level for each park.

    BUT, for inclusiveness, I say that D is better than C because it’s a bit less busy. I agree with most that if you color the wait times, you don’t need the Best/Worst columns.

  • I love option D. As others say, I don’t think the Best/Worst columns are necessary.

    What I’d really like to see is writing out the full name at the top of the columns (i.e., Magic Kingdom instead of MK). I know them well, but it still takes me an extra second to process which is which. With the wider columns of D, it would easily fit.

  • My $0.02: it’s a little busy. I get what you’re trying to do, but the wait times don’t add any value for me. The “Crowd Levels” tell me all I need to know as far as wait times.

  • I like the addition of park hours, EMH, and crowd levels for each park. I would prefer to keep it simple and find the wait times TMI !
    I use the resort crowd level useful to decide when to visit. Once a trip is booked the breakdown of individual park crowd levels, park hours and EMH help to the plan which parks to do each day. Having that information handy in one chart would be a great help. The addition of wait times doesn’t do anything other than add clutter.
    Thanks for a being a great planning resource !

  • Option D is perfect because it lists everything I look for when using the Crowd Calendar to plan. It doesn’t even need the estimated wait times – just the per park crowd levels, hours and extra magic hours is great! I am not fussy about colors and layout. Great work!

    • Really like the option D, it has everything I’m looking for in a quick glance without having to click on the date to dig further. Thanks for all the work to make these changes!

  • I voted for option B due to its readability. I LOVE the information included in option D, especially as I use the crowd levels at each park in my planning and having the hours and EMH laid out right there instead of having to go to another screen is awfully helpful. However, the current layout of D (color boxes) is exceptionally difficult to read.

    Is there a way to set it up so that you can either click on the park crowd level for that day to get the estimated wait times for that rating, or have them pop up in a window if you hover the mouse over it in order to reduce clutter and appeal the both new and veteran planners?

  • I like option D but agree that it can be a little busy. It would be helpful if there is a collapse / expand section option to see estimated wait times for certain attractions That way you can scroll down in a collapsed mode to the dates you are interested in and then expand to see more information if desired.

  • I like D because I don’t have to go back and forth to switch views. Having an expand/contract would remove that convenience. I think it is the best blend for experienced and inexperienced planners.

  • Too much going on for me with these examples. It seems to be info overload. There has to be a better way to present the information that is easier to look at and understand.

  • Per-park crowds are critical knowledge and change day to day. Wait time are great illustration, certainly.
    But park hours… Getting to the point of adding too much information, crowding the calendar, with an item of marginal importance. Epcot is 9-9 99% of the time. Most of the time, most of the parks open at night. Whether Animal Kingdom closes at 6 or 7, is not going to be critical shorthand information. The only significant variables are MK closing time, and EMH.
    Of course, let’s remember… Every user will click the individual dates for more info when making detailed plans.
    Maybe option b with just an EMH footnote, or an extra column for ‘special notes’ — like EMH, parties, etc.
    So the extra column might read:” DHS, 8am EMH. MK MNSSHP 6p-11p. “

  • Another vote for option D.
    I agree with a previous poster that it saves ( to a certain extent) some of the frequent hopping here and there between pages to get some more detailed information. I need MORE than just “Best Park”/”Worst Park” and I’m sure many others do because we don’t always have the luxury of being able to plan our trip exclusively by the BP/WP recommendations.

    As an example, say I have to go to HS on “June 28″. I find it really helpful to see (easily) that the waits at HS are going to be OK on that day even though it is an Avoid Park for that day. I know I could get that information by drilling down through the pages but it’s great to have it there on the main crowd calendar.

    Keep up the great work guys!

  • I love option D. I like everything about it. I can see what others are saying, but you’re not going to be able to please everyone! lol I’ll be excited to use it no matter what you go with. Thanks for asking for input though! :)

  • by Tricia Furman on July 17, 2012, at 3:29 am EST

    I love that on option “D” I can find everything I need to know to make an informed vacation planning decision without digging any deeper into the site. It’s all there on one page. Thanks again for fueling my type A touring personality!

  • Nice work! I agree with many of the comments above: love the addition of park hours and such to D, but I also find the attraction wait times to be too much. Definitely having this info on some other page is great, but for the crowd calendar what I care most about is the parks’ individual scores and their hours. This is really all I need to plan! Thanks for being so awesome!

  • by DisneyDustin on July 17, 2012, at 9:03 am EST

    In the spirit of “Can’t we all just get along”, check out the following mockup…… if keeps the KISS design that many would like to have, but includes all the details others would like via a tooltip-style window when hovering over a day/park.

    It also expands on the original attraction times by sharing 4 points in the day instead of just noon, and includes a button to start a new touring plan for that park or day.

    Thoughts?

    http://www.verdininteractive.com/touringplans/TP_Crowds_v2.png

    – Dustin

    • Seems to me that TP needs to hire you to work on their website design! (If not, I should hire you for mine!) I like it a lot. Hopefully the folks at TP will give some serious thought to this approach and design. Nice work, Dustin!

    • I really like this mock up that includes the “hover” box. But to build off of your earlier idea, I’d love to see the inclusion of one of the non-headliners in the listing of wait times. I agree with you that the real indication for how crowded a park feels is whether an attraction like Pirates has a wait of 15 minutes or 45 minutes.

      • by DisneyDustin on July 17, 2012, at 9:36 am EST

        EchoVictor – Agreed, an inclusion of a minor attraction may round out the story better than just the “big 3″.

        Adam – Thanks for the comments!

        I also think that the inclusion of a dynamic, “simple english” description of a given crowd level would be a great addition too, such as:

        “A 2.5 ranking at Hollywood Studios means that crowds will be moderately lower than normal. Major Attractions, such as Toy Story Mania, will see lower than normal wait times, and wait times at minor attractions will be very minimal. Typical park guests will experience about 10 attractions on a day at this level. Users of one of our Touring Plans can expect to experience about 14 attractions.”

        “A 8.9 ranking at Hollywood Studios means that crowds will be considerably heavier than normal. Major Attractions, such as Toy Story Mania, will see much longer and more sustained wait times, and wait times at minor attractions will be also be heavier than normal. Typical park guests will experience about 6 attractions on a day at this level. Users of one of our Touring Plans can expect to experience about 11 attractions.”

    • Very nice.

    • Interesting mockup Dustin, but… I disike the hover-box approach as it means I can’t do an at-a-glance day-by-day comparison of things like park hours/EMH. I think some of the other posters have suggested a selectable per-line show/hide control to control the display of additional info for each day (& perhaps there should be a global ‘show/hide all’ control).
      I’m visualising a UI with a down-arrow control on each line, selecting this shows the info and the control changes to an up arrow, selecting this hides the info. There is a UI design pattern that describes this but I can’t remember what it’s called.

      • by DisneyDustin on July 17, 2012, at 4:12 pm EST

        Toby, the Hours/EMH are present in the main screen of my mockup (since i copy/pasted rows it may not be obvious — look at Epcot’s hours, and you’ll see the hours and included EMH, similar to the Option D mockup above – it could definitely serve to stand out a bit more)

        “Toggle” is the word you’re looking for : ) , and that’s another perfectly fine approach to the display of additional info for that day – I leaned toward the hover to take away the need to ‘click’ at all, but some of that is a personal preference thing.

  • Option D would make my spreadsheet building much easier. Don’t worry about the amount of info on the screen – we’ll get used to it! It’s clean, and it’s easy to read.

  • Too much information in all of these…
    If you really want to use all of this real estate, then certainly D gives the most information in the space alloted.
    I prefer Option B without the ride times.

  • I like ‘D’ – and it’s not just ‘D’ for Duffy!….

    P.S. I like the poll in this post too!

  • While generally I am a “more is more” kind of girl. I can’t help but think if I were new to tp or if I were new to Disney that I might easily be overwelmed with all of the data. I think you have to strike the balance between giving the “pros” as much info as they want/can handle while still not overwhelming the newbie to the point that they throw in the towel. I love the mock up listed above…simple, intuitive, and not too much information. Again, I like knowing that informaiton is there if I want to drill down and get to it, but it is too much data to sort through if I am trying to decide between week a and week b.

  • For me, I prefer option A as I don’t like a lot of clutter. I think a toggle option for the rest of the information is something I’d like. Right now, I don’t mind having to click on each day individually to read the detailed information but it would be nice to simple toggle the info on the same page. Less jumping around.

  • Too many colors in options C and D… It’s hard to know what to focus on. Everything’s fighting for attention.

  • I like option D with the hours, per park crowd and EMH in yellow font included. Since I never stay on property I like to avoid EMH days so this is helpful. However, I do prefer the look of C with the slight space between the hours and the per park crowd level. It makes it easier on the eyes. Maybe you could add that slight space to D rather than connecting the two blue boxes. Just a suggestion. Thanks.

    • Hummm…. my eyes prefer the connection between the boxes….. The way option C is laid out at the moment, – that the boxes above are not in alignment with the numbers below, really bothers my eyes.

  • by Aliceinwonderla on July 23, 2012, at 11:31 pm EST

    Like many before me, I don’t really see the need for the wait times. I always try to piece together a chart like this myself, so having it already done for me like in Ex D would be great! But anyone really interested in predicted wait times will probably be interested in more than three attractions, so they will visit the per park page anyway.