Digital calendar UX

Improving the user experience for calendar apps.

Calendar app solution

People use calendar apps regularly. A very high percentage of people use digital calendars every day and more than once because they can help you organise your daily routines, keep track of your “to-do list”, and they’re a great tool to manage your time. Is it possible to rethink a calendar?

Calendars are generally designed with simplicity in mind with either a single column or grid system. Their cognitive load needs to be as light as possible with an intuitive UI. For this task I’m going to consider how office staff use the Office 365 calendar. It’s an application I’m very familiar with and at 1.5bn users worldwide, the go-to calendar solution for businesses globally. Office 365 calendar works on mobile, tablet and desktop, has the ability to import data from other calendars and offers a range of add-ons.

My goal is to find an opportunity to either refine the calendar or find an opportunity for improvement. The research and UX process will determine the path I’ll follow.

Research

I started this project by gaining secondary data consisting of internet research and competitive analysis. I chose the default Huawei Calendar app, Gmail calendar and Outlook 365. I listed the features, performance and aesthetics of each app for comparison. I needed to gather primary data based on the thoughts and opinions of people who use the Office 365 calendar. My criteria for the research was to contact people who have the following things in common:

•   They all work within an office environment
•   They all work for large companies
•   They’re all required to use the software defined by the business to organise themselves

I set up a questionnaire using Google Forms and shared the link with a group of professionals. I also conducted interviews to learn more about how people interacted with their digital calendars. Whilst I waited for the survey results, I constructed an end-user profile. Because the end-user definition is so broad, I’ve narrowed it down with some demographic information (age, employment and education).

Age range:  20-65
Employment status:  Full time
Education:  A-level, diploma, degree or higher

The end user

end user diagram

I also created a user story by defining the situation, motivation and expected outcome. This enabled me to summarise what I know about the user.

Situation:  When I want to check my schedule
Motivation:  I want to see all my plans for the week at a glance
Expected outcome:  So I can attend mettings and hit deadlines

Personas

At this point I had received a number of responses from the survey. After reading the feedback I created personas based on what I know about this type of user. I included demographic information, personality, motivations and frustrations.

UX persona

Desired outcomes

After empathising with the personas, my next step is to consider the desired solutions for the end user. In order to formulate a solution I completed an exercise using post-it notes. By arranging them into order of importance, satisfaction to the user, I could then determine the scope for opportunity.

The UX solution should strive to achieve the outcomes that out-perform current solutions. The main areas for opportunity were revealed to be:

•   Lifestyle appeal. Can be of use for life outside of work
•   Connects with other professional programmes and apps

Having determined a list of opportunities, I began brainstorming some ideas that would produce the outcomes that the users desire. I kept the baseline functionalities in mind such as optimisation across all platforms. The solution had to blend in to the calendar environment and needed to be an intuitive addition. Bearing that in mind, I made a diagram that included lifestyle appeal, reminders types, interactions, file sharing and the user interface.

brainstorming chart

Having completed drawn out the diagram, I concluded the design should be a native feature of the calendar based on one the follow ideas:

•   Step / menstrual cycle tracker
•   Travel and event ticket visuals as part of an event
•   Connection to third party programmes or apps to share visuals, work or other assets

Success metrics

I also considered what the success metrics of the feature would be. Besides conventional digital product metrics, the success of the feature could be measured by how well it achieves the user’s desired outcomes.

•   Click count of new features
•   User reviews of the app
•   App user engagement such as active usage and uninstalls
•   Travel data of people scanning the tickets from their phones
•   Increase of average steps of user

Solution

I was now ready to create a storyboard for the UX outcome based on a travel and event feature. I considered how to improve the calendar with visuals of tickets when travel information is added. I sketched out a scenario to help me to empathise with the end-user, and picture the situation with which the feature would be advantageous.

storyboard

User flow

Using the storyboard as a reference, I created a key flow of a user interacting with the feature.

user flow

Wireframe

I referred to the user flow and storyboard to create a wireframe. I considered the core features of the app and as before, began with the opening screen. My intention this time was for the feature to fit within a calendar event. There should also be iconography on the schedule screen to indicate a ticket is embedded.

sketches

Once I was happy with the sketches, I then created a low fidelity design which would serve as a basis for the prototype. I looked at the Office 365 app in order to match the styling and include the new feature.

wireframe

Prototype

I then proceeded building a basic prototype using Invision as the platform to prototype the solution.

The next step would be to reach out for feedback on the prototype by arranging testing sessions to further improve upon the solution and refine the designs into a viable product. The information gained in further testing would be invaluable in refining the designs and launching a successful UX solution.

prototype