Everyday Visualizations: Cupcake Menu Comparison

A few weeks ago, while visiting in Virginia for work, I ended up on M Street in D.C. with a couple of co-workers. One of us was going to a meet-up and the other two of us had time to kill. (One thing you should know about me before we proceed is that I am a big—and I mean BIG—cake/cupcake fan. Have you heard of DC cupcakes? I don't watch it regularly, but I am very aware of it. I'm also aware of a lot of other big cupcake joints, like Sprinkles Cupcakes. So...)

Once I realized where we'd ended up with time to kill, I was immediately on a mission to find DC cupcakes. In the process we discovered a bonus: Sprinkles Cupcakes was only a few blocks away. One of my favorite things to do is compare flavors of cake from different places and see which I like better. Clearly, I need CAA (Cupcake Addicts Anonymous).

I won't bore you with all the details of the cupcake tasting (though it was delicious fun) but we did find some great everyday visualizations to share. Given that we are visualization nerds, it's only natural that while taste comparing the cupcakes, we also compared their visual menus that you can take with you on their visualization merit.

Let's start with the Georgetown Cupcakes menu. It's pink - I dig that. But beyond girly color, it has some other great features. Though it's not really a "typical" visualization in that it doesn't replace text or anything with visual elements, but it does have kind of a visual layout. To outline a few things it does well:


1. The way it's broken up by day (columns) makes it easy to search for the day you are there and find the cupcakes available.

2. It's broken into three "rows" so to speak, with a "row" for everyday, special and advance flavors. This is helpful to quickly find the break between everyday flavors and the other flavors.

Things it could do better:

1. The everyday and advance order cupcake flavors are the same for every day. It seems you could focus more on playing up the special flavors, since that is where the variation lies. Plus, you could save space and ink.

2. Within the special flavors it can be tough to find which days a particular flavor falls on easily. In the everyday rows, the same flavor is always on the same row. Not the case in the special section so your eye does a lot of jumping around trying to search for the same flavor on different days.

Moving on to the Sprinkles Cupcakes menu. It's more of a visual menu than the other.


1. It's easy to find a flavor you want and figure out which day it's available.

2. It's slightly less easy but still not hard to find the day you are there and see which cupcakes are available. There's a little more eye movement involved since there are more flavors.

Things it could do better:

1. I don't know that it really adds anything really valuable to the visualization, but the colored dots do correspond to the dots on top of the actual cupcakes. If you were having trouble reading the signs in front of the cupcakes in the case, that could be helpful for cupcake identification I suppose. A way to make the dots more helpful would be to correspond their colors more closely to the flavor they represent. The colors are pretty though.

2. No seasonal flavors are listed.

Aside from the visual aspects of the menus, another thing I like about the Georgetown Cupcakes menu is that on the backside, they have great descriptions of each cupcake flavor. As a cupcake lover, I find that helpful. Just sayin'.

And if you love cupcakes like I do and are curious which cupcakes are actually the best, you might be disappointed. They are both delicious—preference between the two comes down to...well...preference.

If you want a little cake with your icing and believe a cupcake is not a cupcake without a great icing, Georgetown Cupcakes might be your pick. Their icings were off the chart awesome! Just give me a shot of the icing, hold the cake.

If you dig cake and could take or leave the icing, you definitely want Sprinkles Cupcakes. Not only do they put less icing on each cupcake, but the cake (and how moist it is) really stands out above the icing.

In a perfect world, I'd combine the two. I need both to feel truly cupcake satisfied. What can I say? I want it all. I guess you could say it's the same with the menus: combine the find-what's-available-today easiness of the Georgetown menu with the when-are-they-serving-my-fav icon layout of Sprinkles and it'd be a match made in heaven. Until then, I guess I'll have to keep searching. And tasting. It's tough work, but someone's gotta do it.

So there you have it! A breakdown of cupcake menus! Who knew cupcake hunting could be so visual?