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Solving scheduling for Netflix

Patrick Branigan
Jan 28 · 3 min read

Calendars are the cause of a lot of friction in the entertainment industry. Netflix is no stranger to this pain. They have many long and complicated projects in progress at any given time resulting in overlaps, conflicts, rescheduling etc. for teams of people, on multiple projects at once.

Netflix asked us to discover a way to make individual, team, and project schedules more easily accessible and in sync with their existing internal studio platform. Stakeholders hypothesized that a tool that did this would lessen the total number of scheduling conflicts, resulting in more accurate release planning and asset allocation. Time is money. I was one of a handful of designers that worked with engineers and account managers to research, define, ideate, prototype, and validate a solution.

We spent a week on-site with an internal team at Netflix to conduct a discovery that would:

  • Familiarize ourselves with systems and users.
  • Identify business goals.
  • Identify user pains and motivations, and areas of opportunity.
  • Develop an MVP roadmap.

We gathered insights around tools, routines, and habits by interviewing Project Managers (PMs) and Studio Editors (SEs), and discovered just how vital calendars are to their work (effectively proving value). Our research revealed that the variety of calendar options and their unique customization features made it difficult to achieve consistency in scheduling. No single calendar application was able to achieve a level of integration and reliability needed to sync with their internal platform.

A whiteboard with sketches and diagrams on it.
A whiteboard with sketches and diagrams on it.
A user flow diagram.
A user flow diagram.

We worked with a Netflix engineering team to create primary user flows and low fidelity sketches of ideas to pitch and gather feedback on from users and stakeholders, eventually arriving at a direction to pursue.

Documentation of different types of users.
Documentation of different types of users.

We built a calendar prototype that brought to focus high-value actions that PMs and SEs shared: creation, viewing, editing, and sharing of calendars quickly and fluidly. Additionally, engineers weighed the feasibility of our work in regards to integration with their internal platform.

Calendar interface elements.
Calendar interface elements.
A calendar interface filled with events.
A calendar interface filled with events.
An interface for creating new calendar events.
An interface for creating new calendar events.
Two modal interfaces for publishing and deleting calendar events.
Two modal interfaces for publishing and deleting calendar events.

I was especially involved with the visual and UI design choices. Our color palette was intentionally chosen to reflect clarity and vibrance, while effectively providing differentiation between elements in crowded spaces. We tested typefaces to find a stack that was considerate of rendering metrics and retaining solid readability and scalability. We injected delight in the form of illustration to provide personality and guidance at key moments in the experience.

UI visual design guidelines and documentation.
UI visual design guidelines and documentation.
UI interaction design guidelines and documentation.
UI interaction design guidelines and documentation.

Our solution was a uniquely flexible calendar tool that allowed for teams to engage in their respective mental models (in relation to calendars) without sacrificing clarity and consistency. It was built as a progressive web application and seamlessly integrated with the SEs’ internal platform, effectively engaging all users in a uniform, trackable workflow that could reliably perform and sync in a variety of circumstances.

Patrick Branigan

A collection of work and thought by Patrick Branigan.

Patrick Branigan

Written by

Product Designer by day, gamer by night.

Patrick Branigan

Helping businesses and individuals solve problems with creative thinking and design. 10 years experience in web, UX, UI & product.

Patrick Branigan

Written by

Product Designer by day, gamer by night.

Patrick Branigan

Helping businesses and individuals solve problems with creative thinking and design. 10 years experience in web, UX, UI & product.

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