Google Calendar Concept: Sticky-On-Top Email Notification and Double Confirmation for Dismissal

People sometimes forget to attend events even if they had put a reminder on their calendars. This case study will look into what Google Calendar can do to improve its events reminder usage such that people would be conscious about the events that they are interested in.

Understanding the Problem

User Research — My goal was to learn how users interact with Google Calendar and their habits for setting up event reminders using the app. I spoke to current and potential users from 19–25. I asked several questions about their behavior with regard to schedule planning, categorizing events and creating reminders for events, etc.

Here are some key insights from the research:

  1. Users use it for both personal scheduling and for inviting others to/reminding others of different events.
  2. Many users think Google Calendar’s colorful, eye-pleasing interface is important to their decision in choosing the app as their only schedule planning tools.
  3. Event email notification usually got drown in the piles of emails and are no where to be found.
  4. Users swipe away notifications when they pile up and cannot find them when they do need it.

Identifying Personas — Who Are We Designing for?

Some Target Personas identified for my research are:

  • Samantha: Users who create an event on Google Calendar him/herself
  • Nick: Users who sync events from their emails
  • Allison: Users only use Google Calendar when they are working on group projects and someone shared a calendar with her (Secondary)

Market Research — How other products execute group planning

Outlook: Easy RSVP function and Easy to find out all the events shared with the same person, but does not allow users to easily to set up customized notification when accepting the event invitation

iCal: Easy to use and have different colored dots to indicate category types, but event alert cannot be scheduled at specific time and users have to click on the day of the calendar to see what is going on on that day.

Evernote: Simple and Easy to set up reminders, but does not provide email notification and has cannot add details for the events.

Key Takeaways
The current solutions do not seem to have well-rounded solutions to satisfy all users’ need and expectation from an event reminder/scheduling tool. A simple and easy to use interface usually comes at a cost of insufficient features in regard to the event reminder features and functionality.

Journey Mapping — Where Are These Problems?

Within the interviews, I had users move through scenarios of planning or interacting with plans. The goal was to discover patterns in their pain points. Some common pain points are:

  1. It does not support with shared calendar on the app
  2. People who do not have the Google Calendar app can only see event reminders on their emails
  3. People tend to swipe away notifications even though they may still need it for later

The Meaningful People Problem

Based on my research, I determined that losing sight of the event reminder notification is a core problem at heart. People set up event reminder to help them remember events, but they often do not see the notifications at the right time, which leads them to still miss out on events.

Initial Brainstorm

After brainstorming, exploring and aggregating, I identified opportunities in two spaces:Dismissal Flow and Notification Flow.

  1. Notification Flow: How might we ensure users see the notifications for their event reminders?
  2. Dismissal Flow : How might we ensure users are aware of the important details of the events they are dismissing?

Evaluating Ideas Within Notification Flow

Solutions about event reminder prominence is a big issue. Considering that not too many people use the Google Calendar app, an approach to ensure that notifications to be seen should be pursued. With that said, I leaned on research and decided to pursue Sticky-on-top email notification.

Evaluating Ideas Within Dismissal Flow

Attempts should be made to ensure users are conscious about the event when they dismiss it. The approach should make dismissal a bit more complicated than just swiping away the notification, but it should not be so complicated that it becomes annoying to the users. Ultimately, I decided to pursue Double-Confirmation Dismissal.

Executing the Sticky-On-Top Email Notification Flow

First Pass at Designing the Flow: I started off with a paper prototype for user testing to see if the users like the interactions. Two main design features that I want to test are:

  1. the visual implementation of the sticky-on-top notification in email
  2. users’ perception of the overall user-friendliness of the sticky-on-top email notification feature

Key Takeaways Low-Fi Prototype User Testing:

  1. Users do not like how huge the email notification tab is.
  2. Users think the approach has good intention but they see that having many reminders being sticky on top would be annoying
  3. Users would not want to see multiple event reminders on the same event
Low Fidelity Exploration: Improving the Design of the Email Notification Flow

Ensuring Users See their Events Reminders while Checking Emails: Based on the user research, and feedback from fellow designers, I decided to approach the problem a little bit differently. Rather than enlarging the the event reminder and make it “in the user’s face”, multiple email reminders would be combined into one collapsible tab, which users can tab on to get more details.

Mid-Fidelity Explorations for Email Notification Flow

Help Users Distinguish Which Events are more Important: My previous explorations have focused mainly on improving the visual prominence of the email notification reminders. However, it does not remind users explicitly which events they are interested in and which are the ones that they are required to attend. To solve this problem, an additional feature is included — users can mark an event as important by the press of a button.

High-Fidelity Exploration: Helping Users Distinguish the Importance of Events

After some additional user testings, some visual design decisions are finalized.

High Fidelity Exploration: Explore Interface Options

In the final flow for event reminder email notification, users will see the event reminder like any other emails. Users can expand on the reminder and see all the upcoming events user has on the same page. Tabbing onto the specific event, users would bring to a different page like any other emails to see the details of the events. Users can mark an event as important or delete a particular event. Users can also choose to dismiss the combined notification for all events.

Final Deliverable

Finished Product for Sticky-On-Top Email Notification

Executing the Double-Confirmation Dismissal Flow

First Pass at Designing the Flow: I started off with a paper prototype for user testing to see if the users like the interactions. Two main design decisions that I want to review are:

  1. changes needed for the display of the reminder notification at the notification bar
  2. users’ responses to and interactions with the confirmation required dismissal feature
Low-Fi Paper Prototype of Double Confirmation Dismissal Feature

Key Takeaways Low-Fi Prototype User Testing:

  1. Users sees that having a pattern lock is way too complicated for dismissal.
  2. The pattern lock does not help to remind users of the events details
Low Fidelity Exploration: Improving the Double-Confirmation Dismissal Flow

Ensuring Users have to re-confirm the dismissal in a minimally annoying way: Based on the user research, and feedback from fellow designers, I decided to approach the problem by having a more common confirmation dialogue box. Rather than asking the users to dismiss the reminder with a pattern unlock, users are prompted to dismiss the event where some main details of the events would be shown to the users before dismissal. Another message would pop up to once again iterate the details of the events to the users to help them remember.

Mid-Fidelity Explorations for Double-Confirmation Dismissal Flow

Making the Confirmation Box More Interesting: During the High Fidelity Exploration, it came to my mind that the regular dialogue box used for double-confirmation may be a bit dull and a different choice of design may be able to capture more of the user’s attention.

High-Fidelity Exploration: Double Confirmation

Various color was tested on the confirmation box. The most popular one was red.

High Fidelity Exploration: Look into color options of the confirmation box

After some additional user testings, some visual design decisions are finalized. The double-confirmation dismissal box would use the regular dialogue box that the phone comes with in red color to ensure the aesthetic appeal go with the flow of phone as a whole.

High-Fidelity Exploration: Bright Red Double-Confirmation Dismissal Box

In the final flow for Double-Confirmation Dismissal, users will see the event reminder notification at the navigation bar. Users can expand the nav bar to see the notification. Swiping the notification would not delete the notification right away. Rather, a dialogue box would pop up describing the details of the event and ask if the user would want to confirm dismissing the event or dismiss it later.

Final Deliverable

Conclusion

Buried/forgotten notification is the bane of event reminders . Instead of having multiple email reminders buried among the tons of emails that users already have gets on users’ nerves. Seeing notifications piling up at the notification bar may also prompt users to dismiss them without thinking twice

Solutions like the above create a more prominent presence for the event reminder notification. They hopefully improve the visibility of the reminders and make the users more conscious of the events they are interested and they need to attend.

Looking Forward

Google Calendar created a great platform for personal scheduling as well as group events organizations. However, throughout my user research, users’ responses reflected that there are still rooms for improvements.

Some Ideas to Consider Further:

  1. How could shared calendar be incorporated in the app?
  2. How to allow users to view their schedule more easily? Users find it difficult to view schedule in a week-based/two-week based/month-based calendar interface using the app.
  3. How to ensure the event notifications are showing up at the right time, even if the person travels and switch time-zone?

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This is a case study for the project in
Intro to Digital Product Design class that I am currently taking. I am in no way affiliated with Google.

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