Thanks again to all of you who have given us feedback about the colors. I’m consolidating your feedback on why the new colors aren’t universally loved, and want to get to the bottom of comments like “I hate pastels”, or “they are too similar” or “there are not enough colors”. I want to be able to build a case for why this isn’t just “change resistance”, so please look over my thoughts below and let me know where you stand. Are you represented, or am I missing something?
There are several different types of people that I’ve seen talking about colors. I’ve tried to outline each type below and what would be really helpful is if you could respond with, if possible, a comment as simple as ‘I’m type 5’ or ‘type 2 and 6’.If you don’t feel like you’re covered in any of these categories, please let me know why. Please note: The problems outlined below are what I think represents most of the people - these are concepts I think the team would care about if I’m portraying them accurately.
Categories of people ---------------------------
Type 1. People who like the new colors or at least don’t mind them, those people often don’t provide feedback, because for them everything is ok.
Type 2. Those who don’t like the new colors but are adjusting to them. When we rolled out the new look, we changed the color they were used to, but they are starting to get used to the new colors. One of the main problems was that there was no way to make something stand out.
Use Case: Someone who uses random colors, but wants to make one event stand out.
This use case should mostly be satisfied by the introduction of three new bold event colors last month.
Type 3. These folks aren’t able to differentiate among colors in the color palette, either due to being color blind, or due to the fact that the colors they are using are too similar (at the fault of the color palette options)
There aren't enough calendar colors that are clearly different from each other - for example, colors 3 and 4 in the first row can't be counted as two different colors for this use case. In this palette I see 5 groups (reds, greens, blues, yellow and the gray/pink corner) - I can only use one color in each group, and that’s probably true for most people who are color blind. I’m sure the number is higher for most users, but it probably stops at about 10. 24 distinctive colors would be enough for most people.
Use Case: Printing
1. Too many light colors, they are hard to read from even a small distance
2. Too many similar colors
3. It probably doesn’t get better on a cheap black/white or color printer
Type 4. A group of people who have very specific uses for their colors. By changing their set of colors, the mental models they had built for the color set no longer worked. This group also seems to push back the most, probably because every color has a meaning. For example: Red = Important, Yellow = Sports, etc. This ‘mental model’ (or map) is the primary way this group reads their calendar so by changing the colors, their calendar is no longer useful. It’s not easy to recreate those connections, especially with the color palettes we chose. At this point, I think this group of individuals has tried or is trying to find the closest color scheme to their original but aren’t able to create a comparable experience. Bottom line, they feel like their calendar is broken.
Use Case - Categorizing within one single calendar
These users use event colors to make it easy to spot what category an event belongs to. For example a family that has one color for Dad, one for Mom and one for each of the three children. The event colors we offer now are more difficult to map, because they are pastels and blend too much. So people aren’t able to recreate a similar experience as before. The three bold colors we added might have solved the issue for a part of this group. But in general it seems as though users in this category would appreciate more bold colors to use.
Use Case: Categorizing on several calendars
Users that use different calendars as a category. For example one calendar for the baseball team, one for private events, one for work. A similar use case is a small business with 15 workers, each with his own calendar to show his schedule. For this use case it’s difficult to find enough distinct colors to give each calendar a way to be easily recognizable.
Type 5. This group is mostly using month view. For them, the change to using lighter colors for calendars with darker text forces them to make a very hard choice:
Use a dark color for the calendar. Makes it easy to read timed events, but hard to read the all day events (for example the color blue)
Use a light color for the calendar. Makes it easy to read all day events, but hard to read timed events.
Suggested solutions I’ve seen: Write the timed event in black and only the time in color (or mark it somehow with the color).
There are also two additional pieces of feedback that have consistently been mentioned. I’d like to also understand how many people fall into these categories vs the first five.
Type 6: Diagonal stripes for read only events make events hard to read and for this group it makes the experience worse rather than better.