The UX of Designing a Marketing Calendar

This year, we launched a Marketing Calendar.  This was one of the most surprising designs I have ever been involved with.  I thought (in the beginning) the calendars were easy.  Just copy Outlook, how hard can it be?!

It turns out that Calendars are extremely nuanced and complicated. They have been honed over the past 3 decades into a very usable interface.  HOWEVER, they are almost exclusively dedicated to PERSONAL schedules.  There really is no set design for a GROUP calendar, which is what I needed.

Google Calendar does an OK job for shared calendars.  I have mine and my wife has hers.  We can overlap them, but ultimately they are separate.  A true group calendar is shared with different tags on the items, but they are not duplicated.  There is only one source of data.

One item I found fascinating is that a group calendar generally wants to look forward, not backwards.  They are interested in the activities happening now and in the coming weeks.  A month view is common, but if you are near the end of the month, it becomes useless.  A week view is good, except it’s just 1 week.

We had to invent a new kind of calendar view.  It was inspired by Google Calendar’s “Next 4 Days” view.  We created a 3-week rolling view.  It has the benefit of always showing the future, this is critical.  Additionally, it gave more room on the screen for details because there were fewer overall weeks.

It took over a year of design to make the whole project come to life.  It’s shocking how many little details a calendar can have, especially if you want to interact with other systems.  Big design projects like this take alot out of you, but it’s key to keep at it.  Iterate continuously and don’t give up.

Whatya think?