Amidst the pandemic, numerous occupations transitioned to the online realm, necessitating individuals to adjust to remote work settings. These individuals, functioning as remote workers, turned to tools such as Google Calendar (GC) to manage their schedules and coordinate meetings with colleagues. While GC efficiently facilitates individual scheduling, it falls short in handling group meetings. This investigation delves into enhancing GC's group scheduling functionalities to bolster its effectiveness. The collaborative effort behind this endeavor involved the contributions of Nadia Corral and Kelly Nham.
Our team had the task of identifying a pre-existing product feature that could be reimagined to positively impact the mental and physical well-being of users affected by the pandemic. We convened both in physical meetings and through Zoom, depending on the members' schedules.
During these discussions, we shared our individual encounters with the pandemic as students and our experiences collaborating with others in virtual environments. This led us to the realization that our focus should be on remote workers. This marked the initiation of our project's evolution, including the exploration of popular apps/websites extensively used by remote workers and the identification of potential enhancements.
To gain insights into our users' requirements, we engaged in interviews with 8 individuals who have either worked remotely in the past or are currently doing so. These interviews aimed to provide us with a deeper comprehension of their daily scheduling, time utilization, social interactions, and their familiarity with organizational and planning resources. A selection of these interview questions is available below.
The primary concern that emerged from our findings was that a significant number of participants exhibited reduced social engagement while working remotely. Out of the 8 individuals interviewed, 6 expressed challenges in maintaining social connections and a desire for increased interpersonal interactions. Many of them reported limited engagement with colleagues during remote work, leading to difficulties in fostering team relationships. As a consequence, there has been a notable decline in the sense of workplace community.
We explored the realm of time management and productivity tools and found that every one of our 8 interviewees relies on an online calendar (such as Google, Apple, or Outlook) in some capacity. A majority of the participants, specifically 5 out of 8, expressed a preference for utilizing online calendars as their chosen means of organizing and managing their tasks.
In what ways can we improve the Google Calendar application to promote increased social interaction among remote-working professionals?
Thomas, a young expert, made the shift from on-site to remote work at the onset of the pandemic, representing the category of work-from-home professionals (4 out of 8 interviewees). Numerous participants expressed an affinity for remote work, yet lamented the absence of social intricacies present in office environments. The substantial disconnect from colleagues hinders their ability to establish connections and stay informed about each other's schedules.
After conducting a thorough competitive analysis, we have observed that none of the current applications in this category offer functionalities that facilitate effective social interaction within time management apps. Armed with this insight, we have concluded that our extension for Google Calendar will retain the familiar event scheduling capabilities that users appreciate, while introducing enhancements designed to seamlessly synchronize schedules with significant individuals in their personal and professional lives. Drawing inspiration from platforms like When2Meet, our aim is to develop features that simplify the process of identifying available time slots for others, deviating from the conventional approach of merely checking busy periods during calendar sharing as it stands presently.
The trio of UX flows delineate the sequential process for three distinct functionalities, all geared towards enhancing user socialization and collaboration through Google Calendar. The central element common to all these implementations is the "Friends" feature, enabling users to establish connections with individuals they wish to engage with socially or collaboratively.
Our foray into UI sketching proved to be enlightening. Swift prototyping enabled us to unveil previously unexplored facets of the design, ultimately sparking the emergence of fresh concepts. The significance of the UX flows cannot be overstated, as they formed the bedrock upon which all the sketches were constructed. These flows provided invaluable guidance, shaping our notions regarding the visual appearance of the UI.
The subsequent frames highlight the primary focus of my work. Within this sequence, we illustrate the experience of viewing your friends' available time slots directly within your personal calendar.
A list of your friends on the left side, with a weekly calendar view, with your events already planned.
Upon choosing your preferred companions, you'll be able to observe the collective availability, revealing instances of overlapping schedules among multiple parties.
After choosing your desired meeting time, an invitation gets sent to all the meeting members.
After a member approves the meeting invitation, their profile icon will indicate their confirmation status.
User Testing Methods
User testing was performed on our set of 6 wireframes, involving 6 participants. We initiated the process by elucidating the objectives and potential applications of each prototype to the users. Subsequently, we navigated them through each slide, attentively observing areas where they encountered difficulties. Post this interaction, we posed a series of 5 questions to glean insights into their perceptions of each prototype.
User Testing Results
A comprehensive testing regimen was undertaken, involving 6 individuals who possess familiarity with online calendar applications. Among the participants, there was a kindergarten supervisor in her late 20s who regularly coordinates meetings with fellow educators and state superintendents, rendering her adept at utilizing scheduling features in Google and Outlook. Stated Feature 1 was the most useful for scheduling meetings based on her previous work experience.
The remaining participants comprised of college students from diverse backgrounds and academic levels, routinely employing online calendars for organizing their activities and commitments. These participants found feature 1 and 2 to be the most useful.
Following the completion of user testing on our low-fidelity prototypes and the acquisition of crucial insights within the workflows, we transitioned to crafting high-fidelity prototypes and ultimately delivering the final iteration.
Feature 1: All available times
Our initial feature bears resemblance to the functionality of when2meet, presenting a comprehensive view of upcoming days with available time slots for individuals. This streamlined approach simplifies the task of identifying suitable meeting times for various purposes, be it group projects, professional meetings, or informal social gatherings.
Feature 2: Automatic Meeting Suggestions
The second feature introduces an intelligent assistant that appears on the user's screen, prompting them to consider scheduling a meeting with a friend. Following this prompt, the assistant then presents a range of potential meeting times for their convenience.
Feature 3: Manual Meeting Selection
The third and final feature permits users to view individuals who are available when selecting a meeting time, representing the most pared-down option among the trio of functionalities.
The overall experience provided valuable insights into conducting thorough research, establishing design guidelines for a revamp, and collaborating effectively within a team.
Offering a variety of prototype options for user testing proves beneficial in avoiding local maxima during the problem-solving phase.
When undertaking the redesign of an existing product, it's crucial to maintain respect for the original design guidelines, ensuring that any additions complement rather than detract from the original concept.
Open and consistent communication within a design team is paramount, involving the regular sharing of opinions and ideas, along with coordinated design sessions.
In conclusion, the experience as a whole was exceptionally enlightening and promises to be instrumental in shaping future redesign endeavors.