How a Cleaner UI Can Tarnish UX

I’m a huge fan of Calendly. But their recent UI update irks me.

Calendly is my favorite productivity tool, bar none. (I have no connection to the company other than as a paying customer.) It eliminates days of back and forth when I schedule one-on-one appointments.

However, Calendly recently released an update to its UI that I find puzzling. In fact, it’s a great example of how simplifying your UI — normally a good thing — can sometimes result in poorer UX.

Before/After: Calendly’s UI for Booking Appointments

Calendly lets you specify open blocks of time (for example, “Tuesdays between 10 am and 11 am”), along with constraints (“always leave a Y-minute buffer between appointments,” etc.). Then you send your contacts a link to your schedule, and they can book an open slot.

Here’s what it used to look like when invitees opened the Calendly link to my schedule:

Old Calendly UI for booking appointments

What I liked about this was that invitees could quickly get a rough lay of the land for each day before drilling down into available times for that day. It mimicked the way a lot of people think about scheduling, which is to first zero in on a morning or afternoon, and then look at specific times.

However, Calendly recently released an update to that UI:

New Calendly UI for booking appointments

While certainly cleaner, the new UI hides a huge amount of valuable information. Now the invitee only sees a binary unavailable (zero appointments) or available (one or more appointments) for each day. As a result, invitees have to click into each day, one by one, in order to figure out how many open slots there are, and how they’re distributed throughout that day.

Why It’s a Big Deal

I’m asking busy people to book time with me, which can make them feel like I’m offloading my scheduling work onto them. Therefore, anything that makes the act of booking faster or less frustrating is crucial.

I tweeted about my dislike of the new UI:

And Calendly responded:

I’m not sure what was confusing about AM/PM, but I’ll take at face-value that Calendly received feedback to that effect. Still, is there a way to address that problem without removing such valuable information?

My Proposal

I’m SO not a visual designer, but how about something like this, where invitees still click into an entire day of available times (not separate AM/PM schedules), but they get to see the number and AM/PM distribution of appointments before clicking into the day:

Proposed UI with AM/PM distribution of available slots

Or, if the whole concept of AM/PM is off the table (for some reason I don’t understand), how about at least showing the number of available appointments for each day:

Proposed UI with number of available slots (no AM/PM)

In my opinion, either of these would result in an improved UX versus the current one (though I prefer seeing the AM/PM distribution).

Calendly remains my favorite productivity tool, but I’ll forward this post to them, as they requested.