10 December 2007 · About 2 minutes read

An Example of Near-Perfect Design

I’ve been a long-time fan of Google Calendar, mainly because I can see where I need to be from any web connection. But probably its most useful feature is the thought that has obviously gone into the interaction design.

The Problem

When using calendar software, it is painful to have to click between each field, setting hours and minutes, locations etc. then confirming with an OK. I have been known (more often than not) to forego any form of calendar, instead relying on scrawl left on scraps of paper around the office. Whilst less organised than a calendar, this said scrawl is a lot easier to jot down. Needless to say, though, it is also a lot easier to lose.

A Solution

In Google Calendar, the designers have captured my need to quickly jot down when, where and who. No longer do I need to tab between fields, carefully tapping out 24-hour clocks (or 12-hours, depending the software’s mood). Instead, events can be entered as simply as:

meet joe at company friday 11am

Google Calendar will then automatically pick out the important information and add the appropriate event. No fussing around with mini-calendars or remembering to use mm/dd instead of dd/mm - the app just works. This is, for me at least, near-perfection user design - and I hope more software begins to take note (Apple’s new iCal 3.0 does not).

Google Calendar’s ‘Quick Add’ is an example of removing layers of abstraction (or barriers) between the user and the system, and quite correctly why should the user conform to the system? It should surely be the other way round. Mobile phone OS designers should note, why should it take 4 menu items to get to a message inbox? Perhaps Google’s new Android will help to iron that one out…

Chris Blunt
Chris Blunt@cblunt
Chris is the founder of Plymouth Software. As well as code and business, he enjoys being a Dad, swimming, and the fine art of drinking tea.