There’s constant talk about best practices for website development, but we’ve noticed these conversations often fail to mention online calendars.
With most online calendars still resembling the paper version you’d hang on the wall, we think it’s time to steer the conversation toward best practices for online calendars.
To do this, we thought we’d share a few of our secrets. At Localist, we think beyond the traditional wall calendar. Our golden rule for user experience is make calendars that don’t need training to use, or administer. Just like with a normal web Content Management System (CMS), with a vibrant online calendar, you have two user groups to consider: front-end, and back-end.
Read on for 10 more user experience best practices we live by for both front-end and back-end users.
For Front-End Users:
1. Make interesting events easy to find. People are busy. But they make time to go to events they’re interested in. That’s part of the reason why, at Localist, we Rather than showing the first events first, we show the best events first. Plus, no two users are alike, so while one user may get excited about a weekend music festival, another might be more inclined to attend a talk by an industry leader. Cater to all users by giving them the ability to sort events by interest and type in addition to the traditional chronological order.
2. Create event information pages that are one-stop shops. Don’t make users go hunting all across the internet to find ticket prices, venue information, or directions. They’ll appreciate having all the necessary event information in one easy-to-find place.
3. Sharing events should be easy. Attendees should be able to share interesting events with friends, family, and colleagues. A good online calendar will integrate with social media and email for quick and easy sharing.
4. Simplify signing up or on. How often do you sign into a website or service only to forget the username and password you created? If you’re like us, this happens all too frequently. You have too many log-in names to count, let alone remember. Save users that hassle by integrating your online calendar with Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also tie log-ins to already existing usernames at your organization. People are more likely to use your online calendar if they know they can avoid the dreaded username/password mind blank.
5. Make it pleasing to the eye. Nothing makes a user’s eyes glaze over like a big wall of text. Break up the event information text box and create a mini-brand for each event by adding relevant images to the calendar.
For Back-End Users:
1. Avoid feature creep. Remember our golden rule for user experience? Keep things simple. Well, it applies here. You may be tempted to constantly add features to your calendar, but if they aren’t necessary, think twice. Sure you might not cover every use case, but you will save your users the confusion that can arise from dealing with a complicated product.
2. Automate, and then automate some more. But be sure to leave room for users to customize their calendars through bulk uploading, pulling in feeds, and displaying widgets.
3. “Duplicate input” shouldn’t have a place in your vocabulary. Allow users to access and pull in data they’ve already entered with one single click. Localist will even show a warning if it thinks the event a user is entering has already been added.
4. Get serious about simplification. Identify the most common tasks your users will complete and then ensure those tasks can be accomplished in the fewest steps possible. This is a no-brainer, but there’s no better way to improve user experience than to talk with users about their experiences using your calendar!
A fantastic user experience can make the difference between an online calendar no one uses and one that’s the go-to destination for events.