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Colors - Summary of the color issues

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Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/6/12 10:45 AM
Hi all

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)


Use Case:

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:
  1. 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)
  2. 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.

I’m not sure I understand the root cause of this. Please help me understand it here: http://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/d/msg/calendar/dZ3HX1TbIek/tUUVTCqwslAJ


Type 7: The grid lines aren’t visible enough and, for this group, that makes their calendar hard to read.

I hope you find yourself in one of the categories I described. Either way, please let me know. I'd like to take this + the responses to this thread as the basis for a presentation about colors.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Skammie 3/6/12 11:10 AM
I am a combination of 1 and 5. I am generally fine with the colors, but as a month view user, it does take a little bit more effort to discern between the text and the underlying color. But it's not enough trouble for me to complain. (In fact, I haven't even pin-point this concern until I read your post.)

Thanks Jeff for your hard work, effort, and time to put all this together. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 3/6/12 11:36 AM
I'm a little bit in type 4.  The other issue that I wanted to bring forth is this: With the old calendar, when you're looking at a day/week view, the time of an event (e.g. 1:00 - 5:00p) and the event's title (Birthday Party) were different shades. So, the event time would be a darker blue.  This helped keep back-to-back events from blurring together so much.  Helpful when you're planning a class schedule, or work schedules where you're supposed to be in your office from 8 to 11, and at the front desk from 11 to 12.

http://www.tonytorero.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/google-calendar.jpg

See the blue events? That's all I'm really after -- I hope to have something more like that.  It does make a huge difference.

What's also good is that blue frame around it, which somehow makes the whole calendar-viewing experience easier on my eyes. 

Now... what would be absolutely amazing is if we had the ability to change the colors of certain elements with color codes, so I could tell it that I wanted certain events to show up as #006400 or #6D7B8D or something.  I wouldn't want to impose this on people who would definitely want an easier color pallete to deal with, but it *would* be awesome maybe as a Labs feature for the more technically-inclined.  I'd understand if & why this never happens... but I figured I might as well post what the icing on my cake would look like, just in case. There are nerdcore users who would eat this stuff up.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sjkristeller 3/6/12 12:04 PM
I am definitely a 4.  The calendar is barely useful to me anymore.  In addition, I don't like pastel colors and never have.  We need something BOLD and VIVID to wake us up and keep us alert!  I also don't care for the diagonal or whatever lines.  They are distracting and annoying, not helpful.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking our input.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bickerdyke 3/6/12 12:06 PM
Basically: 1 I like the pastellish look

but as I'm 5 (month view user) I only have rather small spaces to discern similar colors.

So I end up as a 3. (A quick count showed that there are probably 6 or 7 colors easily distinguishable)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues inearlygaveup 3/6/12 12:19 PM
Type 3. 
But
sleeplessbooks screen shot is far far easier to look at and read, than my standard google set up.
Also my text colour is so pale it merges into most background colours.
Hope this helps.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/6/12 12:46 PM
Hi Jeff

First, many thanks for doing this.  I think you have set a fine example on how to communicate with your user base.  We are all very grateful for this excellent service.

I am nearest to Type 5 but I don't think you have quite covered what I find most hard.  I use Month View by default and what I find REALLY BAD about the new colour combinations is not so much the colours themselves (although I too would like stronger colours as well as pastes).  No, it's more the lack of contrast between the background and foreground colours. There are two scenarios here - a) ALL DAY EVENTS and b) TIMED EVENTS. Let's look at each one in turn:

a) ALL DAY EVENT - With an all day event, some of the colour combinations for user calendars simply do not work well.  Some of the darker colours (for example the blue [row 3, col 4] or the red [row 1, col 3] have black as their text colour.  Other applications like the older version of Google Calender, Gmail, Excel with its coloured worksheet tabs tend to have WHITE text against these similar, more intense colours. And it's even harder to read with the stronger colours introduced recently for "Choose an event colour" option where, for example the red which is three from the right still has black as its text colour.  Even in the new look colour scheme - for example the "Post a Question" button in Google Groups we see WHITE text on the red button (not black text).  So there's a lot of inconsistency here in how the new look colours have been applied across the various applications. At the very least, surely the user should be able to choose the best text colour that would work for him/her.

b) TIMED EVENT.  Here the "opposite" problem exists. The text for timed events that have a lighter colour as their calender colour are very difficult to read against the white of the calendar itself.  My suggestion here would be that the event itself could be in black text (shows up fine against the white of the calendar) with only the text of the time portion (which precedes the event description) blocked out in the calendar's colour as background and a contrasting colour for the text (see point a)!!!)

I hope you can follow this and I would be very grateful if these concerns could be conveyed to the team. 


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 3/6/12 1:21 PM
I really like your comments, Sisyphus.  That's been an issue for me, too -- where the text colors can't be changed to something that contrasts better with the backgrounds.  This has been true for both the all-day and the timed events.  I'll definitely second your motion!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 3/6/12 2:58 PM
I'm a Type 2. I'm good with the e new bold colors. I do miss the icons in the event titles and dark/light text depending on the colors instead of all black, e.g. white instead of black text on "bold red."
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/6/12 3:05 PM
I think I fit in to categories 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Type 3:  I use many calendars, the colors are too similar to each other, and pastel letters increase the amount of concentration required to read the letters on a white background.
Type 4:  I use the colors as a mental map, with many calendars (a combination of several personal/friends' calendars and Google Apps at work).
Type 5:  I use primarily month-view, as a mental map (see Type 4) and again, the pastels are too low-contrast (see Type 3.)
Type 6:  I don't think this is separate from Type 3.  The diagonal lines increase the amount of concentration required to read the letters against the background.  Why force us into the diagonal stripes at all? Did anyone ask for diagonal stripes?
Type 7:  The old style used rounded edges on the all-day events, making it easier to scan for their edges.

In general, you've made it harder to read, harder to tell elements and calendars apart from each other, and made me mentally focus on it in order to read it.
A calendar is a tool.  Not a destination.  Not a portal.  Not a social hub, and not an outlet for artistic expression.  Stop trying to make it look like a bed spread, and give us our tool back.

Thanks!
Sheree
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues JT8H 3/6/12 3:37 PM
I am a #4
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Lalkin 3/6/12 5:20 PM
Type 3 and 4
 
It isn't so much as not being able to tell pastel green from pastel blue but more that the new colors don't contrast enough from the white background to easily read events at a glance.
 
I also don't understand why you would get rid of the old colors.... Adding more colors was a great idea but could you have just added all the pastel colors and left the old colors as well???
 
We really need black back. The only blackish color is a not-very-dark grey. Which really sucks as I like to use black as my "I haven't assigned a catagory to the event yet" color. I'm using the grey right now but it is too hard to read.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues geof3 3/6/12 5:47 PM
I'm 4 mostly. I use week view primarily and have particular colors for particular things. My primary problem is I prefer bold, rich colors. Not a washed out pastel look. The colors before popped and were distinct. The new color pallet is too subtle and the entire color spectrum washes with itself and has extremely poor contrast.
Colors - Summary of the color issues DMSLaw 3/6/12 9:00 PM
I'm primarily a type 5, secondarily a type 4, and use month view almost exclusively. The addition of the three bold colors helped with the mental map, but the black text on the dark/bold colors is almost unreadable. White text on the bold colors would make the new calendar close enough to perfect for my purposes.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/7/12 5:16 AM
Hi Sisyphus

I must have written type 5 badly, because when I read your text, I thought that's pretty much exactly what I tried to express with these two lines:

> 1. 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)

Which I take to be your case a)

> Use a light color for the calendar. Makes it easy to read all day events, but hard to read timed events.

Which I take to be your case b)

I just saw that I didn't mention the word contrast anywhere. That was a mistake on my part. This is all about contrast (not about pastel or not pastel).

The point is that with switching to using dark text, it forced us to use lighter colors. The light colors have bad contrast with the white background for timed events. For the darker colors, the contrast on the all day events is bad.

So I really think I've got your case and will be able to make a solid case around that.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 3/7/12 9:47 AM
Jeff:  Thank you for being a rep from Google to work with us critics.  We hope that real change back to original function is possible.  (Though I have given up some hope)

I am a combo type 3--not color blind, but have difficult time seeing the colors on the pastels and the bolds are so stark that I can't read the "BLACK" font that we are forced to use--and a type 4.  I am a radiologist who puts my monthly calendar into google calendar so I'll have an easy reference of where I am and when, what days I am on call, what days I am late shift, etc.  Previously, I was able to change colors on the fly, read the text, distinguish colors, see immediately what days I am on call, etc.  Now, I either have to enter "different calendars" for on call days and for daily schedule which is not only a pain, but it disconnects a single life event so to speak.  With the faint red on pastels, I could hardly see either on week view and for sure on monthly view what it is.  With the bold red, I can't read the words "on call" through the red.  And the bold red in the event entry is different than the red in calendar entry mode but close enough that it is a confusing mess.

Also give me a bit of 6 and a lot of 7.  There is too much "white" on the calendar with not enough distinguishing marks as there used to be so it all becomes a mishmash except for the pastel or too dark bold colors.  And the diagonal lines make it tough to read the black text in the background.  All in all, you took a good product, tried to enhance it, but made it more difficult to use as we had done for years now. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/7/12 1:07 PM
Jeff - thanks for getting back again.  Yes, my point (and your type 5 point) is all about contrast and the choice of appropriate colours for background and foreground.  As they stand, I don't think they work too well and I gave some examples from other Google Apps and Microsoft which, IMHO, work much better. 

Whatswrongwithcolor - from what you say about your having difficulty in reading BLACK font against strong colours, I would say you are also a type 5 as well as all the other types you mention. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 3/7/12 1:31 PM
OK.  I'll be a type 5 too.  ( My mother says I'm all sorts of types...)

Jeff:  Take this to the google teams and ask them what they think:

Is this easy to read??  or Is this easy to read?? or using pastels, is this easy to even see background color with dark font?

What about this?? or is this easy to read?? or is this easy to read??

That is essentially what google calendar has done to us.  Make choices with black font that is impossible to see or choose pastel colors which are hard to see.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/7/12 2:02 PM
Whatswrongwithcolor - Excellent examples.  For me (and I hope you and millions of others!!) WHITE text on the blue or red backgrounds is MUCH easier to read than the black text.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bwquarve 3/7/12 2:16 PM
Just my two bits - No disrespect intended, but using colors for categorization is honestly a bit of a kludge/workaround.  Properly implemented text tagging/categorization would alleviate the issues your "Type 4" group is having.  ;)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/7/12 3:54 PM
It seems like you're assuming that filtering would solve all our problems, but it won't--sometimes we want to see our co-workers' or family's events displayed inline with ours!
I don't think it's a kludge at all--I see it as more like an exploit of human visual systems.  Colors and pictures are parsed by our visual systems much more quickly than text.

After more thinking on the subject:
  • The colors' similarity to each other is a speed-bump when it comes to visual parsing.  Instead your eye hopping from one "green" thing to the next, now your eye is all over the place comparing (for example) the light green to the light-light green, to the light blue-green, to the light yellow-green, to decipher whether the event is in the category you're looking for.

  • With regard to diagonal stripes:  A background is easy to ignore while reading text, but diagonal stripes aren't a background.  They're a bunch of little shapes behind the words, which distract your eye from the letters.  If it were a novel, I think you'd adapt and learn to ignore it within a few minutes.  The problem is, we're not reading a novel.  We're looking at the calendar for fractions of a second.  It's jarring, and  we have to "adapt and learn to ignore it" each and every time we look at the calendar.  It's even worse when you're trying to find text on the calendar.

  • What'swrongwithcolor's post covers what's wrong with the background/font color combinations themselves.  Thanks!
  • I think 'mental color-mapping' is something lots of us do without even thinking about it, and we've been doing it for a looooong time--way before Google.  Way before the Internet.  Our mental color <-> category index does the same thing any other index does:  Speeds up categorization and parsing of new information.  If I'm looking for a way to parse data really fast, of course I want vivid colors that are easy to to tell apart at a glance--Go outside and look around you at all the company logos.  Marketers get it, Hollywood gets it--why doesn't Google get it?



Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bwquarve 3/7/12 4:03 PM
Sorry Sheree - I didn't mean to marginalize the usefulness of color-coding to folks.

Just from my perspective, color-mapping is somewhat limited for enterprise calendaring when you need to get data back out of the system in a useful format.  I'll add that even if tags were implemented, they would be way easier to scan if they were color-coded as well, for the very reasons you're mentioning.  :)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/7/12 4:23 PM
Tags would be a good idea... I just don't think I would want any more words added to the already space-constrained month-view.

What kind of data are you trying to get out, and in what format?  I'm not a programmer for a living, but wouldn't the API give you access to an event color attribute?


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bpfoot 3/7/12 9:44 PM
I guess I'm a type 5, but while I could use some more difference in colors in the month view, my biggest complaint is that the text is black which makes very few colors usable for all day events. The old format used white type on dark color blocks which was fine. Sounds like a simple fix for all those programmers.
Now I see that they have removed the 'print in b/w' option from the print page so that now my cheap color printer has to print pastel on white which makes my old eyes really hurt.
I know not many use printed copies, but I do--I'm not always in front of my computer when I need to check something and paper works great...even if I do have to hand write my on printed-on date on it!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/8/12 1:44 AM

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012 10:31:20 PM UTC+1, What'swrongwithcolor? wrote:
Jeff:  Take this to the google teams and ask them what they think:

Is this easy to read??  or Is this easy to read?? or using pastels, is this easy to even see background color with dark font?

What about this?? or is this easy to read?? or is this easy to read??

I'd love to do that, but this will not fly. 

If you go to http://www.msfw.com/accessibility/tools/contrastratiocalculator.aspx, to calculate the contrast ratio for the colors you chose in your example (#000, #c00 (red) and #000, #00f (blue)), you'll get 3.6 and 2.4. None of the colors we chose score anywhere near that bad. So that whole argument can be disposed with a simple: "But that's not what we're doing." and the rest of the arguments would suffer.

I could use this as an example of what people "feel" has happened to them, not sure that moves the conversation in the right direction. 
 
That is essentially what google calendar has done to us.  Make choices with black font that is impossible to see or choose pastel colors which are hard to see.

This argument (especially in month view), I'll most certainly bring to the team.

I think the root cause here is that the background for month view is white and we chose to use dark text. Because of that, this only leaves a certain spectrum of colors that can be used (the middle ground between white and black). Go too far either way, and you either can't read the text on the chip or you can't read the text on the white background. Depending on quality of your screen and your eyes, that spectrum varies.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/8/12 2:31 AM
@bwquarve: When I read your post, I was about to post something about the importance of color. Sheree did a good job at it, so I won't. I'd just like to emphasize that using colors for categorization is not a kludge/workaround. It's what we humans do. That's why sports teams have different color jerseys (ok, sometimes one team uses green and the other red and then they all look the same, but that's a different story :-) ), that's why often parking garages use different colors per floor, etc. etc.

On Thursday, March 8, 2012 12:54:23 AM UTC+1, Sheree wrote:
It seems like you're assuming that filtering would solve all our problems, but it won't--sometimes we want to see our co-workers' or family's events displayed inline with ours!
I don't think it's a kludge at all--I see it as more like an exploit of human visual systems.  Colors and pictures are parsed by our visual systems much more quickly than text.

Totally agree. Well said.
 
After more thinking on the subject:
  • The colors' similarity to each other is a speed-bump when it comes to visual parsing.  Instead your eye hopping from one "green" thing to the next, now your eye is all over the place comparing (for example) the light green to the light-light green, to the light blue-green, to the light yellow-green, to decipher whether the event is in the category you're looking for.
The same applies for look up. If you want to find out whose calendar the light-green is (as opposed to the light yellow-green), your eyes bounce between the calendar and the little indicator next to the calendar name. The workaround for that is to display/undisplay one calendar, so the events disappear/reappear. 
  • With regard to diagonal stripes:  A background is easy to ignore while reading text, but diagonal stripes aren't a background.  They're a bunch of little shapes behind the words, which distract your eye from the letters.  If it were a novel, I think you'd adapt and learn to ignore it within a few minutes.  The problem is, we're not reading a novel.  We're looking at the calendar for fractions of a second.  It's jarring, and  we have to "adapt and learn to ignore it" each and every time we look at the calendar.  It's even worse when you're trying to find text on the calendar.
Thanks for that. I'll add this line of thought to the presentation. Have to think about how to phrase it. 
  • I think 'mental color-mapping' is something lots of us do without even thinking about it, and we've been doing it for a looooong time--way before Google.  Way before the Internet.  Our mental color <-> category index does the same thing any other index does:  Speeds up categorization and parsing of new information.  If I'm looking for a way to parse data really fast, of course I want vivid colors that are easy to to tell apart at a glance--Go outside and look around you at all the company logos.  Marketers get it, Hollywood gets it--why doesn't Google get it?
When I initially wrote this post it was a lot longer. I explained the mental map in more detail, because I thought a lot of people aren't aware of its existence. I cut it out (it's still a long post). It's important to note that the mental map is not something you're born with. It's something you learn. That has multiple implications:

1 - Changing the colors means that people have to relearn their mental map - not a pleasurable task
2 - People are rebuilding their mental map as we speak (no matter if you want to or not, it's automatically happening, you can't escape). Some have successfully done it already.
3 - Because of 1 and 2, I wouldn't advice the team to change the colors again.
4 - Not all colors are equally easy to remember. Known colors are easier to use as an index.
5 - Clearly different colors are easier to use for different categories.
6 - Because of 4 and 5, the colors we provide make it harder to rebuild a mental map

For me, the mental map is the root problem for type 2, 4 and partially involved in type 3 as well.
 
Thanks again for this clearly thoughtful response.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues mesheree 3/8/12 8:09 AM
If you go to http://www.msfw.com/accessibility/tools/contrastratiocalculator.aspx, to calculate the contrast ratio for the colors you chose in your example (#000, #c00 (red) and #000, #00f (blue)), you'll get 3.6 and 2.4. None of the colors we chose score anywhere near that bad. So that whole argument can be disposed with a simple: "But that's not what we're doing." and the rest of the arguments would suffer. 

Then there is something wrong with the color combination that is not quantifiable in units of color contrast, as described by that website.  Your whole argument could then be dismissed with a simple: "Computers are tools for humans to use, not the other way around."

Maybe the contrast problem isn't color, per se, but color value and color saturation...
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues didi11 3/8/12 8:10 AM
type 3. Not enough contrast. Not enough colors. On my phone I still get the old bright colors. Love to use agenda on my small phonescreen now. Much better than on the big screen of desktop.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/8/12 9:06 AM

On Thursday, March 8, 2012 5:09:50 PM UTC+1, mesheree wrote:

Then there is something wrong with the color combination that is not quantifiable in units of color contrast, as described by that website.   
Your whole argument could then be dismissed with a simple: "Computers are tools for humans to use, not the other way around."

OK, let me phrase it differently. Actually here is my thought experiment (if you want to experiment along, please use yourself as the creator of the colors):

Let's assume I was the one who chose the colors we have now. They look good to me on all the screens I looked at, and they looked good to the people I talked to.

Somebody comes along and shows me something that's clearly very hard to read or even unreadable. NOT what I chose and clearly and objectively much worse then what I chose. The person says: "This is what you did to your users."

How would you react?

Your whole argument could then be dismissed with a simple: "Computers are tools for humans to use, not the other way around."

Of course it could. But is this a fruitful conversation that moves the team in the right direction? Or does this set me up for confrontation? 
 
Maybe the contrast problem isn't color, per se, but color value and color saturation...

I don't claim to understand a lot about colors (in fact I'd call myself colorstupid in addition to colorblind), so I'll look into that. I would have thought that contrast is a result of all of those. But I guess it's possible that I see saturation differently than you and therefore the contrast would be different too. 
 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bwquarve 3/8/12 9:19 AM

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012 5:23:01 PM UTC-7, Sheree wrote:
Tags would be a good idea... I just don't think I would want any more words added to the already space-constrained month-view.

What kind of data are you trying to get out, and in what format?  I'm not a programmer for a living, but wouldn't the API give you access to an event color attribute?



I'd absolutely abhore it if the month-view was more cluttered, myself.  The idea is to provide more ways to get useful data to the end-user.  As far as what I (and other event administrators) are trying to accomplish:  Say we have an Alumni Banquet for the Basket-Weaver's club, class of 1969.  I need to be able to assign multiple attributes to that event so that all the appropriate departments understand it's relevance to that area.  In this example, I'd assign tags like "Catering," "BasketWeaversClub," "AffinityGroup," "Classof1969," "AlumniOffice," and maybe if A/V support was required, "Media."  now, if we've properly implemented this on an Campus-Wide basis, the Alumni Office can filter a calendar or run reports that shows them just Class of 1969 activities, or just Affinity Groups, or all Alumni Events, or quickly find all the events for the Basket-Weaving Club.  Our Caterer could see a detailed schedule of all events they need to support--as would our Media Services team.

You need this granularity when you're master-calendaring at an institutional level.  Single categories (like color-coding) don't provide the relational DB functionality you need to operate at this level.  You have to be able to assign multiple means of categorization, which means multiple attributes per event.  You can't even implement this with multiple flat-file calendars.  That's what's currenly happening on our campus and my office will be the one ending up having to explain to people why they don't have space reserved for their event--since they "thought" they had put it in the "right" calendar!!!


On Thursday, March 8, 2012 3:31:08 AM UTC-7, Jeff Vader wrote:
@bwquarve: When I read your post, I was about to post something about the importance of color. Sheree did a good job at it, so I won't. I'd just like to emphasize that using colors for categorization is not a kludge/workaround. It's what we humans do. That's why sports teams have different color jerseys (ok, sometimes one team uses green and the other red and then they all look the same, but that's a different story :-) ), that's why often parking garages use different colors per floor, etc. etc.


You're all absolutely right that humans scan color naturally and it's a normal way for us to categorize things, but you can't assign more than one color to an event.  Perhaps I was a bit strong in my initial post.  As I said later, I didn't mean to marginalize color-coding. But, can you see why there are cases where it really wouldn't work?

And here I am mucking up your thread....There's a more detailed discussion of tagging here:  https://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/d/msg/calendar/5uhxu0UCCL0/QoXwsimt2EcJ

Sorry to thread-jack.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread...  ;)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues kavanrogness 3/8/12 9:28 AM
I'm absolutely Type 4, use case: categorizing within one single calendar. Thanks!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/8/12 9:41 AM
You're all absolutely right that humans scan color naturally and it's a normal way for us to categorize things, but you can't assign more than one color to an event.  

Ha! Diagonal stripes to the rescue! We could have a diagonal stripe for each color ;-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues lhslibrary 3/8/12 9:51 AM
Hi I'm a type 3.

But I do prefer the background to be the color and the text white, otherwise is there a way to get color square next to the event when rendered for publishing. I use the Agenda format for a high school page on when student classes are in the library instead of the classroom.
The bolder the color the quicker people will remember what it goes with.
The color are intended to determine the location in the physical space to go. there are times when there are multiple classes in at the same time. When editing the calendar, I love the color squares and the bold text. Unfortunately, that is not what displays in the rendered calendars. 


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/8/12 10:00 AM
Of course it could. But is this a fruitful conversation that moves the team in the right direction? Or does this set me up for confrontation?

Written in the exact same tone you used when replying to bwquarve, it was intended to be a lighthearted jab at confrontational language in general, and also to point out the silliness of using a mathematical formula to "prove" to a person that something "should be" easier for them to see.  Are there elderly people where you work?  Have them check out the calendar.  If all of them can read it, you're off to a good start.  =D
 
On Thursday, March 8, 2012 9:06:45 AM UTC-8, Jeff Vader wrote:
Let's assume I was the one who chose the colors we have now. They look good to me on all the screens I looked at, and they looked good to the people I talked to.

Whether they look good, or whether you can read it when you've been asked to pay attention to the calendar itself (in order to review the colors), is completely different from whether they are easy to read with degraded visual acuity or at non-native resolution, or whether they are easy to read at-a-glance when you need to be mentally focused on something else.

Somebody comes along and shows me something that's clearly very hard to read or even unreadable. NOT what I chose and clearly and objectively much worse then what I chose. The person says: "This is what you did to your users."

Those colors weren't even part of my thought train.  I think we can all agree that subjectively, the new font colors are harder to read against the new backgrounds, for all our various reasons.  Maybe this is quantifiable with an existing measurement--and maybe we need a new way of measuring.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bwquarve 3/8/12 10:23 AM
LOL Touche! ...but in my example you'd need left-facing diagonals, right-facing diagonals, horizontal bars, vertical bars, and crosshatches....and then some...  ;)

...but then I'd defy anyone to remember what all those stripes actually mean.  ;)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/8/12 10:44 AM
On Thursday, March 8, 2012 7:00:40 PM UTC+1, Sheree wrote:
Of course it could. But is this a fruitful conversation that moves the team in the right direction? Or does this set me up for confrontation? 

Written in the exact same tone you used when replying to bwquarve, it was intended to be a lighthearted jab at confrontational language in general,

You hit the tone exactly right :-) But I set mine up with at least a mediocre, rational, quantifiable argument. That clearly beats your "then-there-must-be-something-wrong-with-your-argument"-argument! :-)
 
and also to point out the silliness of using a mathematical formula to "prove" to a person that something "should be" easier for them to see.

I'm not entirely with you here. I agree that the formula by itself can't prove any such thing - but it can give a guideline. Combine that with asking a few people if they can read it ok, and you should be fine.
 
  Are there elderly people where you work?  Have them check out the calendar.  If all of them can read it, you're off to a good start.  =D

A good plan this one.

Let's assume I was the one who chose the colors we have now. They look good to me on all the screens I looked at, and they looked good to the people I talked to.

Whether they look good, or whether you can read it when you've been asked to pay attention to the calendar itself (in order to review the colors), is completely different from whether they are easy to read with degraded visual acuity or at non-native resolution, or whether they are easy to read at-a-glance when you need to be mentally focused on something else.

Sorry, I meant to say the contrast looked good to those people as well. They might have complained about one or two of the colors, but I took their feedback, changed them and they said it's good now.

I agree with everything you said in that paragraph, btw.


Somebody comes along and shows me something that's clearly very hard to read or even unreadable. NOT what I chose and clearly and objectively much worse then what I chose. The person says: "This is what you did to your users."

Those colors weren't even part of my thought train.  I think we can all agree that subjectively, the new font colors are harder to read against the new backgrounds, for all our various reasons.  Maybe this is quantifiable with an existing measurement--and maybe we need a new way of measuring.
 
Again, you make a good point. But you're trying to escape the experiment. I was trying to portray what is going to happen if I take the following (as was suggested) to the team.

> Is this easy to read??  or Is this easy to read?? or using pastels, is this easy to even see background color with dark font?

> What about this?? or is this easy to read?? or is this easy to read??

If I was the one receiving that kind of feedback, I'd automatically say, that this is not what we did to the users. And I can "prove" it. I can't go with something that's obviously and measurably worse and use that as an argument.

If you're trying to say that this (and similar measurements) are wrong, then we need to prove that. For example I could go and find color combinations that are as hard to read as the above, that still score 4.5. With that I can go and say: "Look, this measurement isn't good. Nobody can read this. Chances are, other combinations can't be read by at least some people. Maybe we need to choose a higher value." Personally I see some value in this approach. But only pain in the more confrontational one.
 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/8/12 1:33 PM
I don't think I fit a group here:
I don't like the colours, and only partly 'cos they are pastel. They seem to render badly on my large iMac screen and on my MacBook - I get interference patters on the stripes [moiré], and anyway, why stripes.
Obs pastels are less distinctive than solids, so what is the rationale?
From the point of view of legibility I find black type even on a pastel a very poor choice compared to white out of a solid.
Since the main change took place the arrows at the ends of events straddling days have been changed, just crude.
Having grey as a highlight for today in 2-week view [my normal choice] is just depressing.
I've spent a live in the graphic arts and I can't remember such a disappointing re-design of something that worked.

I have always preferred gCal to iCal, but I am no longer sure.

I think your side of the Atlantic you coined the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. 'Nuff said!


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 3/8/12 2:55 PM
Jeff:
If the specific example I gave you will really be ignored because of subtle differences in colors of blue, then your work on behalf of us is much harder than I thought.  Whether it is the specific shade of blue or not is not the point.  What is the point is that the use of colors as they have been changed, the use of "dark on dark", the use of pastels, etc has made it very difficult to use calendar as we have used them in the past.  In fact, on gmail, when you label a mail post with a dark color, white font is used.  The little magnifying glass on the top of this very page is white against a blue background box. 

I don't think I was being flippant, disrespectful or combative.  I tried answering your question as well as give specifics of how the changes implemented negatively affect use of your company's product.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 3/8/12 3:28 PM
@jeff vader

I don't understand why you 'want to get to the bottom of comments like “I hate pastels”, or “they are too similar” or “there are not enough colors”' and just give the users choice. Obviously Google has code and methods to allow complete choice of colors, e.g. Gmail label colors. Enable that in Calendars and a huge portion of the noise would go away.

There clearly is a large community of Calendar users who are not at all happy with these changes. What possibly could have motivated Google to alienate all these users and not back off when the pitchforks emerged?

@kavanrogness

You sure are being reserved.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 3/8/12 3:39 PM
@Jeff Vader

I still don't know why we're still discussing the topic of wanting more colors.  This is NOT a hard thing to implement, and we clearly need it for a variety of reasons.  It seems like you're in agreement with us though, so I don't mean to try to rip your head off or anything... but I *am* confused as to why this aspect of the calendar isn't getting fixed.  Ideally, we should be allowed to pick any colors we want, change the text colors even, and heck, maybe we could change fonts, too. Having these options don't overburden the system, and it'll create an incredibly versatile tool that's perfect for a wide variety of users. I really want to see this. I think you'd love this, too.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues DMSLaw 3/8/12 6:38 PM
I thought that What'swrongwithcolor's post was spot on-and drove home the point we have been trying to make about the readability (or rather the lack thereof) of dark text on dark backgrounds for the all day events.

I find it astounding that taking his examples to the calander designers would somehow be perceived as argumentative. Indeed, what seems to be argumentative is the line that merely because the black on dark combinations have sufficiently high readability scores, they must, therefore, be good enough. Sort of a reverse or corollary Emporer's Clothes- the manual says the color combinations look good, so that's what counts-not what we see.

Finally, as a radiologist, What'swrongwithcolor would be uniquely qualified to make observations about visibility and contrast; pun intended.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/8/12 7:53 PM
Jeff  -  whatswrongwithcolor's examples, although they may not be the precise colours that have been implemented by the Google Calendar team, nevertheless illustrate the principle very well.  whatswrongwithcolor is using the colours that are available in the Google Groups message editor. If you really want precise examples, I can easily send you screenshots (like whatswwrongwithcolor's examples) of the precise background colours with black text on them.  But that should not be necessary, should it?  Surely the Calendar team can accept the general point here?

And the point is that the current restricted choice of colour combinations is frustratingly hard to read for a lot of people, despite what the contrast ratio figures may say. 

And as others have said, to rely on what a contrast ratio site like http://www.msfw.com/accessibility/tools/contrastratiocalculator.aspx  says does not cut it.  If designers were to treat these figures as the holy grail, then Gmail, Microsoft Excel, etc have got it wrong (I gave examples in another response to this thread).

Surely the best solution to all this is to give users the choice.  Look at how Gmail allows the user to choose background and foreground text colours for its labels.  Adopting Gmail's solution would make everyone happier and, incidentally, would help to unify two different Google web apps.  And isn't that one of the main points of the new look - to harmonise how they look and work as far as possible? 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 12:56 AM
On Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:55:27 PM UTC+1, What'swrongwithcolor? wrote:
Jeff:
[snip] 
  Whether it is the specific shade of blue or not is not the point.  What is the point is that the use of colors as they have been changed, the use of "dark on dark", the use of pastels, etc has made it very difficult to use calendar as we have used them in the past.

I totally see your point. And I also see how your example clearly illustrates that point. But I'm worried about the "side effects" of your example.

Just to be sure, I will make that point in my presentation. I don't exactly know how yet. But I intend to make it very clear without putting people on defense.
 
  In fact, on gmail, when you label a mail post with a dark color, white font is used.  The little magnifying glass on the top of this very page is white against a blue background box. 

Again I agree - I'll talk about the magnifying glass to our UX designer. I wonder if it has something to do with one being a button and the other one being an event. Not sure about it though. 

I don't think I was being flippant, disrespectful or combative.  I tried answering your question as well as give specifics of how the changes implemented negatively affect use of your company's product.

Sorry, I must not have made myself very clear. I'm VERY grateful for your feedback. It's well worded and thoughtful. I also didn't mean to be disrespectful, flippant or combative and I certainly don't think you were. All I was trying to say is that taking your example straight to the team (like you suggested) would have undesirable effects. I might even be wrong about that. I just don't think so for the reasons I gave.

Hope you're not disappointed about that reply. I think the important part is, that the thing you bring up will make it into the presentation, because I think it's important. The exact way of delivery should be left to the messenger ;-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 1:08 AM

On Thursday, March 8, 2012 10:33:32 PM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
I don't think I fit a group here:
I don't like the colours, and only partly 'cos they are pastel. They seem to render badly on my large iMac screen and on my MacBook - I get interference patters on the stripes [moiré], and anyway, why stripes.

Thanks for the interference patterns part. I hadn't heard that before - I think mostly because people aren't aware of its existence. So this might be a root cause for disliking the stripes.
 
[snip] 

I think your side of the Atlantic you coined the phrase 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. 'Nuff said!

Well, what was broken is that Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites etc. all had very different looks, no common feel etc. The redesign was part of a company wide initiative to improve this. But this is not something I'd like to discuss in this thread. 
 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/9/12 1:58 AM
I only came to this thread yesterday having originally posted my complaints in one of the other groups complaining about the changes [are there groups for those who like them? I rather doubt it, and not just 'cos people are quicker to complain than praise]. Anyway I was referred to it by your colleague Adrienne and I am so impressed that Google listens to users.

If I may ignore your 'this is not something I'd like to discuss in this thread' in reply to the rationale for the changes I feel you may have lost sight of the dictum that form follows function. Google has a tradition of beautiful clean and functional design in its own products, something that was so absent form products you acquired such as YouTube. The functions of all your products are all very different and it seems to me that you should be aiming for a Google envelope, but the paper inside should be allowed to follow its own function. Colours are a part of this and if so many people don't like the colours you have imposed on Calendar. They may be OK in other products [I'm no expert], but don't seem to work well for your calendar users. Do you take a hit by having both? Legacy users could switch back to the old colours [the rest of the look is less important] and new users might never know what they are missing!

That just leaves the horrible arrows at the end of multi-day events in 2-week view.

Thanks for listening, and who knows, implementing. CC
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 1:59 AM
@fastoy (f) and @sleeplessbooks (s): I address your two posts in one (because they brought up the same thing)

First, I definitely would like Calendar to move in the way you suggest. Exactly how this would look, I don't know - there are many different ways to implement that.

More specific:

> s: I still don't know why we're still discussing the topic of wanting more colors. 

More colors IMO doesn't solve the problem. If you get 20 more pastel colors in between the ones you already have, would that solve your problems? If not, there obviously needs to be some kind of rethinking because the colors we have now, probably didn't get here by accident. That's why we're discussing. I want to find the best reasons for bold colors that are unrelated to aesthetics.

> s: This is NOT a hard thing to implement, and we clearly need it for a variety of reasons.

Implementing more or different colors isn't that hard. Agreeing to what the colors should be is a bit harder. And after all, I think it's only a partial solution.

> s: Ideally, we should be allowed to pick any colors we want, change the text colors even, and heck, maybe we could change fonts,
> f: and just give the users choice

I agree with the colors (not sure about the fonts), and this is what I strive for. 

> f: Obviously Google has code and methods to allow complete choice of colors, e.g. Gmail label colors.

I'm afraid that's just a very small percentage of what needs to be done. Allowing users to pick their colors is a lot more work than replacing or adding a few colors.

1 - You need to find out a way so it fits into the UI - there are quite a few possibilities and you have to get all stakeholders to agree on one
2 - You need to store the choices somewhere - now it's not just a change in the UI anymore
3 - You need to load the choices at start-up, meaning you need to figure out how not impact initial load time
4 - Depending on implementation, you need quite a bit more storage for the user selected choices, which can bring a whole other set of problems

There are more, but I'm pretty sure you start to understand why I say that the code we can reuse is a very small part of the overall change. None of these problems is impossible to solve, mind you. But the change is significant enough that I doesn't just get done over night.

> f: I don't understand why you 'want to get to the bottom of comments like “I hate pastels”, or “they are too similar” or “there are not enough colors”'

Because only very good reasons will get the above done. There are many other things we work on, so without excellent reasons it will be difficult to raise priority. Saying "We have a lot of reports from users that don't like the colors we provide, so we should allow them to pick their own." is not enough. The better my arguments, the more likely this will get addressed.

Hope this explains why we're discussing and why things are not moving as fast as you all hope.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 2:10 AM
On Friday, March 9, 2012 10:58:17 AM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
If I may ignore your 'this is not something I'd like to discuss in this thread' in reply to the rationale for the changes

You may ignore anything you want. Just don't feel bad when you're being ignored in return ;-)
 
I feel you may have lost sight of the dictum that form follows function. Google has a tradition of beautiful clean and functional design in its own products, something that was so absent form products you acquired such as YouTube. The functions of all your products are all very different and it seems to me that you should be aiming for a Google envelope, but the paper inside should be allowed to follow its own function. Colours are a part of this and if so many people don't like the colours you have imposed on Calendar. They may be OK in other products [I'm no expert], but don't seem to work well for your calendar users. Do you take a hit by having both? Legacy users could switch back to the old colours [the rest of the look is less important] and new users might never know what they are missing!

This is Google internal business IMO and I don't feel comfortable to discuss it here. Sorry. I know many of you will disagree with this Google internal, but as I said before, I'm not willing to discuss this here. If you want to discuss it without my participation, feel free to start a new thread, so this one can focus on the color issue.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bickerdyke 3/9/12 2:12 AM
Am Freitag, 9. März 2012 10:59:17 UTC+1 schrieb Jeff Vader:
> s: This is NOT a hard thing to implement, and we clearly need it for a variety of reasons.

Implementing more or different colors isn't that hard. Agreeing to what the colors should be is a bit harder. And after all, I think it's only a partial solution.


I sometimes wonder how many people here have the neccessary experience and insights into Google's internal software design to be able to assess the impact of design changes...
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/9/12 2:16 AM
And I would also like to revert to the white out/black on type issue.

In specialist signage it is well understood that a different weight is needed for the two uses. This is not a simple bold vs regular font issue. In the UK when the current road signs were designed [I'd guess in the '70s] a new font called Transport was created with Helvetica-like characteristics. Versions were created for black on white [local signs] and white on green [trunk routes] and I think there were also variants for metal signs and back-lit ones.

Of course this is not available to you on the web, which may go some way to explaining why the switch from while out of solid colours to black on pastel is not appreciated. CC
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 2:52 AM


On Friday, March 9, 2012 11:12:36 AM UTC+1, bickerdyke wrote:

I sometimes wonder how many people here have the neccessary experience and insights into Google's internal software design to be able to assess the impact of design changes...

LOL, I think I can count them on one finger. And sometimes, just sometimes, I doubt even that one has the insights to actually do a correct assessment of the impact ;-) 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 3/9/12 6:45 AM
" LOL, I think I can count them on one finger. And sometimes, just sometimes, I doubt even that one has the insights to actually do a correct assessment of the impact ;-) "

And I think I know which finger that is!

JOKE

Thanks for interacting with us. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/9/12 9:16 AM
> That just leaves the horrible arrows at the end of multi-day events in 2-week view.

I assume you're using Chrome. It looks better in Firefox. We think it's a bug in Chromes anti-aliasing and we've already notified them.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues carib 3/9/12 11:16 AM
Hi Jeff,

Thank you for this post. I think I fall in the type 3 and 5. The colors are very close in some cases and I can't differentiate between them at first glance. I am not sure if adding just a more saturated or primary version of the color would help. As for 5 you basically summarized the problem well. Would it help to have the timed event be in black with a lighter version of the calendar color be the background? (i know more pastels but i haven't been able to find a happy medium for this issue)

Thanks.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/9/12 12:21 PM
Yup to Chrome - how odd that you show suggest Firefox. However I had a look in it and the arrows are not better, but different. In Chrome they are just cut off at 45°, while in Firefox there are very small arrow heads. I can't see an anti-aliasing problem, but my eyesight is not the best which is one of the reasons I don't like the changes. As you can see it also renders smaller in Firefox.

And anyway when the changes were first made I am sure the little white triangles were retained - more discrete and yet visible. CC
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/9/12 2:19 PM

Jeff,

Here are some examples (from the actual Google Calendar website, so nobody can claim "those aren't the colors we picked") which drive home the points we've been trying to make.

Hue Contrast -- Some colors are too similar to other colors to determine which calendar an event belongs to.  In some cases, the text version of the color doesn't match the banner version, making it even more difficult to tell.

Value Contrast --  As our visual systems actually perceive light/dark separately from color, I think it's probably safe to say that we'll all have a different sensitivity to value contrast.  Here's a fun little exercise:  Use the settings on your monitor's menu to de-saturate your picture until it's black & white, and go back to your Google Calendar.  It's not fun to look at, is it?  You get stuff like this:

That's not very fun to read, is it?  The color version isn't much better:












Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues hendlschnitzl 3/10/12 1:06 PM
Type 1 and 4!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Buttermaker 3/11/12 3:28 AM
I am of Type 3 and Type 4 and Type 5.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/13/12 6:23 AM
Thanks Sheree, I plan to steal your example for the presentation. Thanks for all the effort you're putting into this!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues ray2man 3/13/12 7:28 AM
I am definitely type 3 and so are most of the people in my organization of 10 active users and about 35 occasional.  We need more different colors. Why limit it to pastels, darker colors would be very convenient.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues FMc13 3/14/12 2:32 PM
Thank you for working on this.  I simply need more colors.  I use multiple calendars to schedule classes for different departments at the University where I work.  It's difficult to keep the classes distinct when I have so few color choices.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues BeffyJo 3/14/12 2:47 PM
Type 4 here.

We use the calendar for a variety of things in our property owner's association office. The receptionist uses it to book the clubhouse for rentals, the maintenance guy uses it to set up those rentals or other events, the patrol guy uses it for boat rentals, shelter house rentals, etc. Basically everyone uses the calendar at some point and we have to keep most of the 'tabs' open...so when the colors changed, we had to re-adjust our thinking of what we should be looking for. Since I print out the calendar in 'agenda view' for the maintenance guy, the event headers are very hard to read. It's also hard to read the pastel colors on the background.

I don't know why there was such a huge change in the design. I think everyone would be perfectly okay with a pallet that includes the original colors and pastels (if its necessary.)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/15/12 2:55 AM

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:32:55 PM UTC+1, FMc13 wrote:
Thank you for working on this.  I simply need more colors.  I use multiple calendars to schedule classes for different departments at the University where I work.  It's difficult to keep the classes distinct when I have so few color choices.

Quick question: Do you really need more (we currently provide 24) or would 24 be enough if they were clearly distinctive? If you need more, how many?


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/15/12 3:29 AM
To hijack the post I'd be happy with 24 as long as they were distinctive [it is not just one's own calendars, but the public ones as well]. 

And to me distinctive rules out many pastels, and if they are not pastel the lettering then needs to be white out again.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/15/12 3:53 AM

On Thursday, March 15, 2012 11:29:44 AM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
To hijack the post I'd be happy with 24 as long as they were distinctive [it is not just one's own calendars, but the public ones as well]. 

Yeah, that's what I would have thought as well. But FMc13 might have a different use case, that I haven't thought of (or seen explicitly mentioned) before.

Before, i thought that for anybody only about 15 - 20 colors make sense (provided they are distinctive), because it's pretty much impossible to keep a mental map in mind that is much bigger than that.

Now I think he/she might not actually use a mental map (*), but just looks at the calendar, remembers the color and then looks at the events, mentally displaying only that one color. Don't know if that's phrased well and is understandable. But if this is what's happening, then I can see that 24 colors might not be enough (**). Then you need as many colors as there are classes (that and a set of very good eyes to be able to distinguish between that many colors).
 
(*) Maybe there are classes that are more frequently used and he/she might know those colors by heart - so it would be more like a combination of use cases.
(**) My point so far was, that 24 colors are enough, and people who complain about "not enough colors" actually mean: not enough distinguishable colors.

 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues pottiepie 3/15/12 7:23 AM
I'm Type 3 and 4. I use the colors to build a mental map, but I'm not unwilling to rebuild the map. However I cannot because the colors are not distinct enough to allow them to differentiate when glancing.

Also, why can't there simply be an option to customize whatever colors we want using a color picker? That will simply end all complains about the colors.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues pottiepie 3/15/12 6:43 PM
I there should be a limit to the number of distinguishable colors a person can see, which I think will vary from person to person, as well as monitor set up.

You can observe how subway maps are designed with a different color for each line. I believe that much thought have been put into designing those to accommodate the majority of people. And I noticed that they do not use pastels. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues pagrav 3/16/12 10:10 AM
I am Type 4 and Type 5. My idea to really take off coloring the events is this: Color coding names/definition for each user would be great for things such as Red for important, Blue conference, Orange travel, Green needs preparation etc. Once a mental model on colors is decided by a user it would be nice to be able to see what meaning you assigned to it when you scroll over it. Otherwise it gets all messed up. People should use separate calendars for work, personal, sports that allows different coloring and then use event colors as color code tags that stand out.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/17/12 2:33 AM
Hi Jeff

Not sure if you have met with the Calendar team but in case you haven't, could I ask you to ask them one specific thing, please? 

From the Hangout video, it would appear that the Calendar team is seriously considering adding the ability for users to choose custom foreground/background colours.  If that is the case, and since the idea of the new look is to harmonise the look and feel between the various Google apps, then why can't the Calendar team adopt both the preset colour scheme and the custom colour palette already available in Gmail for its Labels?  This seems to work very well in Gmail and I certainly don't see many complaints (if any) about Gmail's Label colours. The work has already been done in terms of colour selection.  Leverage that work for Calendar. 

Please see screenshots of the both the Gmail Label colour scheme and the Gmail custom colour palette.

Off topic, perhaps, but this suggestion would also apply to Google Docs for their Collections colours.  I did get the impression from the Hangout that the various teams don't talk to each other much.

Thanks for your work on all this.


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/19/12 3:31 AM

On Saturday, March 17, 2012 10:33:28 AM UTC+1, Sisyphus wrote:

From the Hangout video, it would appear that the Calendar team is seriously considering adding the ability for users to choose custom foreground/background colours.  If that is the case, and since the idea of the new look is to harmonise the look and feel between the various Google apps, then why can't the Calendar team adopt both the preset colour scheme and the custom colour palette already available in Gmail for its Labels?  This seems to work very well in Gmail and I certainly don't see many complaints (if any) about Gmail's Label colours. The work has already been done in terms of colour selection.  Leverage that work for Calendar. 

This is a good idea, I'll make sure to suggest it. That said, some thoughts from my point of view:

My personal recommendation is not to change the colors anymore. Instead let the user override them (and maybe add a few "empty" ones). The reason I strongly suggest not to change the colors again is this:

1 - Some users like the colors
2 - Colors are used for a mental map - changing the colors breaks the mental map (types 2 & 4)
3 - A lot of users have rebuilt their mental map with the new colors (even users who don't like the colors)
4 - Replacing the colors means we force the users to rebuild their mental map AGAIN
5 - This is painful and decreases usability of calendar for people at least temporarily - even if the colors are "better" in some ways

So that's why I recommend against switching out the entire palette again.

Hope that makes sense.

P.S.:
Gmails label colors are a lot less important to Gmail than event colors are to Calendar (don't know the exact stats, but I'm sure a lot less than 50 % of Gmail users use label colors, as opposed to 100 % of calendar users using colors for events/calendars). This might be the reason why we don't see many complaints :-)

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues em.b 3/20/12 7:37 AM
I am 4 and on the top of that those color give me migraine, they are too bright. I even emailed you guys to find out how to get back the old colors and no one got back to me.
I don't understand why do you force this. How difficult is it to give us both options or just create a palette where we can choose our colors or shades. Instead of doing useless research why are people dissatisfied with the change why not please everyone and give us a palette? I am sure it would be less time consuming and costly, unless your designer can not handle that? In that case you should probably hire new ones.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 12:08 PM
On Friday, March 16, 2012 6:10:14 PM UTC+1, pagrav wrote:
I am Type 4 and Type 5. My idea to really take off coloring the events is this: Color coding names/definition for each user would be great for things such as Red for important, Blue conference, Orange travel, Green needs preparation etc. Once a mental model on colors is decided by a user it would be nice to be able to see what meaning you assigned to it when you scroll over it. Otherwise it gets all messed up. People should use separate calendars for work, personal, sports that allows different coloring and then use event colors as color code tags that stand out.

I agree, that's a good idea. It would be especially good in helping somebody else build the mental model. On the other hand, the mental model is only useful, when you can do the association without scroll over (i.e. you know it by heart). If you don't know it by heart, it's not a mental model. If it's not required to be a mental model, then any color will be fine.


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 12:43 PM

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 3:37:52 PM UTC+1, em.b wrote:
I am 4 and on the top of that those color give me migraine, they are too bright. I even emailed you guys to find out how to get back the old colors and no one got back to me. 

 
I don't understand why do you force this. How difficult is it to give us both options or just create a palette where we can choose our colors or shades. Instead of doing useless research why are people dissatisfied with the change why not please everyone and give us a palette?

I've tried to explain this in several other posts. It boils down to: Before anyone will spend time on this, I have to convince the right people that this is more then change aversion. Changing the colors in the palette would be little work except...

...somebody has decided these were good colors.
...some people like those colors.
...a lot of people have (at least) started to build their mental map around those colors. 

Changing the colors IMO isn't a solution. I'd like to push toward selectable colors, preferably incl. selection of the font color. But that is quite a bit of work.

I am sure it would be less time consuming and costly, unless your designer can not handle that? In that case you should probably hire new ones.

I take offense at this statement and would like to point out that you're in no position to make such statements. You quite clearly have no understanding of what it takes to get this done right. I understand that, for a simple web app, a change like this isn't really big. And I assume that's where you base your statement. But when you have millions of users, different teams within your product, different stakeholders and integration with other teams, a mature code base etc, things change. All of a sudden it's not a small change. You need to know what you're doing and WHY you're doing it, because frankly, if you don't, that's when it gets time consuming and costly. 

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues carib 3/20/12 1:14 PM
That last paragraph was uncalled for. I understand your frustration and that or Google Calendar users but for you as an employee of Google especially there is no need to resort to defensive comments. I think what you are doing is commendable as far as trying to get a resolution for the calendar users that do not like the new colors but stick to the problem. You don't need to justify or defend the expertise of Google's designers to someone who doesn't know or have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the calendar team. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues BeffyJo 3/20/12 1:19 PM
Wow, really? Google isn't going to collapse if you go back to the colors you had. It's pretty obvious to me from this thread that no one really enjoys the colors. I also don't think the stakeholders are realllly going to care. "Oh no! They changed the colors back to what they were! Sell all of my stock, I dont want it anymore." Get real. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 1:28 PM

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:14:12 PM UTC+1, carib wrote:
That last paragraph was uncalled for.

Damn. I was trying hard to phrase it carefully. 
 
I understand your frustration and that or Google Calendar users but for you as an employee of Google especially there is no need to resort to defensive comments. I think what you are doing is commendable as far as trying to get a resolution for the calendar users that do not like the new colors but stick to the problem. You don't need to justify or defend the expertise of Google's designers to someone who doesn't know or have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the calendar team.  

Yes, maybe I should just let such comments go. On the other hand, I also feel it's important to let people know when I feel something has not been appropriate. I'll try to improve on how I get that message across. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/20/12 1:29 PM
I am staggered by the turn this thread has taken.

For a number of users, me included, the new colours are lousy. But those of you who are being so rude have no idea how many of 'us' there are, or even if we are a significant minority of users [those who approve will likely say nowt, and those who don't like it much may be quiet as well].

Jeff is trying to help and some of you are being plain rude - and will probably now turn on me if that is the sort of people you are.

Remember, it is a free product and we are not customers, just food for Google. If you don't like what Google offer you don't have to use it. I for one am amazed how much trouble Jeff is taking [I don't know him and he has not paid me - but he can find out who I am no doubt if he wants to pay me!].

CC

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 1:36 PM

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:19:12 PM UTC+1, BeffyJo wrote:
Wow, really? Google isn't going to collapse if you go back to the colors you had.

Yes, and it's not going to collapse if we stay with the current colors either. That's kind of the problem :-)
 
It's pretty obvious to me from this thread that no one really enjoys the colors.

Please be aware, that people who are not happy come to the forum a lot more often than people who are happy. This thread doesn't represent all our users, it's more representative of all our unhappy users.
 
I also don't think the stakeholders are realllly going to care. "Oh no! They changed the colors back to what they were! Sell all of my stock, I dont want it anymore." Get real. 

Oh, I didn't mean those (I thought they were shareholders). With stakeholders I meant people who have a say in which direction the product takes.

Even though it would be funny if colors had an influence on our stock price. In fact, I might just look up how the price changed since we released the new UI - that might make the best argument yet :-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/20/12 1:39 PM
More reds in the calendar and the stock nose dives, more green and up she rises.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 1:47 PM

On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:29:22 PM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
I am staggered by the turn this thread has taken.

For a number of users, me included, the new colours are lousy. But those of you who are being so rude have no idea how many of 'us' there are, or even if we are a significant minority of users [those who approve will likely say nowt, and those who don't like it much may be quiet as well].


It's good to see that some people (take the time to) understand that this isn't as simple as some people would like it to be and thanks for stating it so clearly.
 
[snip] 
I for one am amazed how much trouble Jeff is taking [I don't know him and he has not paid me - but he can find out who I am no doubt if he wants to pay me!].
 
I'll pay you a beer when I see you (or a glass of champagne if you're a woman) ;-)
 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/20/12 1:48 PM
On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:39:29 PM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
More reds in the calendar and the stock nose dives, more green and up she rises.

Ha! That might be the best reason against user selectable colors! We wouldn't want to be at the mercy of our users to that extend :-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 3/20/12 2:07 PM
Being male and teetotal I could go off this thread.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 3/20/12 2:28 PM
@jeff vader

You're losing as much ground as you're making. Just put a color palette in there and be done with it.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/20/12 2:38 PM
Is there a technical argument against adding the old colors to the existing color pallette?  Does it currently only allow a certain number of colors?
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues bwquarve 3/20/12 2:40 PM
For all those people suggesting a color palette (which initially sounded like a good idea to me)--it's a perfect example of a seemingly simple request for a single user that could get *really* complicated when trying to engineer it from a software perspective.

Simple point being...sooo...how would your own special "palette" color for an event on your calendar be represented on another person's calendar with whom which you're sharing the event?

I could see people with lots of shared calendars ending up with a such a broad patchwork of colors as to be totally useless from a scanning perspective.  :(
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Skammie 3/20/12 2:49 PM
Well said, colinc!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sheree 3/20/12 3:54 PM
@bwquarve:  We've noticed Google's kludgy workaround to this specific problem at work.

If you have modify permissions, you see the other person's colors, and if you change it, you change it for everyone.  If you have read permissions, you can change it to your heart's content on your own screen.  This definitely seems like a kludge, and If I wrote it, I think I would have made the choice between seeing/modifying their colors or my colors an inheritable per-calendar setting.


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues em.b 3/20/12 4:20 PM
Don't take offense, it's a personal opinion. And you are right I don't know what it takes.
But do your holders want to please part of your users or all? Palette would do that.
I was not trying to be mean or rude (that was actually me trying to be nice), I know I come on too strong for some people, but I call it what I see it.
I signed up for Google specifically for your calendar colors. Yahoo's were not acceptable for me. And yes I have tryed to find other options. Again yahoo has pastels and even less options. As much as I am very much against Hotmail, I have even tried that, they have exactly the same options as you. The way I see it: you had something unique and you traded it for something common. I even tried outlook also not an option.
I have issues and I need everything around me specific way to function, if it's not in it's place it distracts me and I won't get anything done, the way I use it:
two jobs = 2 similar colors
classes with 3 locations = 3 different colors
events that are out of the regular schedule = another color
Days when i bike to work - some color.
Now no bright colors, no orange or yellow.
I have downloaded chrome today to check it out. I do not see an option of changing the color of My calendars.
Great now I checked on it and it has stripes...LOL
I am still looking for other calendars, for me it is not a problem in contrast, contrast hurts my eyes, that gives me migraines...
There is an option of embedding a calendar, that would give me perfect option only I can not save the colors without embedding it, it is frustrating.



Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Keleher 3/20/12 9:40 PM
I am interested in being able to have an event background color be white. And can I have the default calendar be not the main calendar, but one of the sub calendars?
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/21/12 1:33 AM
On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10:38:28 PM UTC+1, Sheree wrote:
Is there a technical argument against adding the old colors to the existing color pallette?  Does it currently only allow a certain number of colors?

Yes. There is currently only one font color. It used to be white, hence the old colors were darker. The font color is now dark, so the colors are lighter. Just adding the colors back wouldn't work, because it would be hard to read the text on most colors. So additional code changes would be needed to make the font color depending on the selected chip color.

It's not unsolvable, but I'd argue if we do this, we might as well go all the way and make both colors customizable. 


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/21/12 1:50 AM

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:20:20 AM UTC+1, em.b wrote:
Don't take offense, it's a personal opinion. And you are right I don't know what it takes.
But do your holders want to please part of your users or all? Palette would do that.

Yes they do. However, there are many ways to please (different) parts of our users. Enterprise users would like to see other things than families or sports teams etc. Other groups might be just as big or bigger than this group. If you're the product manager, you have to look at all the things that could be done and then decide on what gets done. Because there is never enough time to do everything. 

That's why I keep saying: first it must be perceived as something worth doing. Only then will it get done.
 
I was not trying to be mean or rude (that was actually me trying to be nice), I know I come on too strong for some people, but I call it what I see it.

No problem, all forgotten. Glad you took my rant in a good way and I guess we're similar in calling out things.
 
I signed up for Google specifically for your calendar colors. Yahoo's were not acceptable for me. And yes I have tryed to find other options. Again yahoo has pastels and even less options. As much as I am very much against Hotmail, I have even tried that, they have exactly the same options as you. The way I see it: you had something unique and you traded it for something common. I even tried outlook also not an option.
I have issues and I need everything around me specific way to function, if it's not in it's place it distracts me and I won't get anything done, the way I use it:
two jobs = 2 similar colors
classes with 3 locations = 3 different colors
events that are out of the regular schedule = another color
Days when i bike to work - some color.
Now no bright colors, no orange or yellow.
I have downloaded chrome today to check it out. I do not see an option of changing the color of My calendars. 

I think the extension should work for you just fine. You have to right-click the icon it adds in the top right and choose options.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/21/12 1:53 AM
On Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10:07:08 PM UTC+1, colinc wrote:
Being male and teetotal I could go off this thread.

OK, I'll make it a "beverage of your choice" - since only alcoholic beverages seem to command insane prices, I think I should be save ;-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues em.b 3/21/12 8:03 AM
I have downloaded extension called Selectable Calendar Colors. You can change all 24 colors to whatever you want to (it does have a palette), it will even let you choose how the color will look once dimmed. I selected gray for all my dimmed and picked my colors for the rest (took me 3 hrs for 10 calendars... But my calendar is perfect again.
The only downside is it only applies in Google chrome, if you use different browser you will be back to the yakee colors, so if you are using  computer that does not have a chrome - you are back to the old problem...
Maybe you can make these extensions available to be apply to the calender itself? No only to the whole browser?
Well for the most part I have what I need.
Thanks
Sisyphus 3/21/12 2:54 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 3/21/12 3:11 PM

Just to remind everyone of what we have lost in terms of the colour pallette between the old version and the new look Google Calendar.  I don't remember the old colour pallette being disliked by many users.  Not only are the background/foreground colour combinations better for the most part on the older version, you also have more choice of calendar colours (42 old / 24 new). 



One other comment - anecdotal but I suspect replicated throughout the Google user community.  No one I know who uses Google Calendar thinks that the event colours are an improvement.  BUT none of them has posted to forums like this - it's really too much trouble, particularly when Google Groups was also undergoing a new-look metamorphosis and was (and still is) buggy and slow.  The complaining (constructive, I hope) is left to a few of us and it's great that we have managed to get someone as responsive as Jeff. 

Jeff- when is your meeting representatives of the Calendar team?  Is it soon?  Good luck!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Keleher 3/21/12 8:23 PM
Problem; I HATE Chrome!!!   :-(
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues galaktiker 3/24/12 2:26 PM
Hello. Just add more colours and more tint. For example now there's no brown color....
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 3/26/12 7:22 AM
On Wednesday, March 21, 2012 11:11:47 PM UTC+1, Sisyphus wrote:

One other comment - anecdotal but I suspect replicated throughout the Google user community.  No one I know who uses Google Calendar thinks that the event colours are an improvement.  BUT none of them has posted to forums like this - it's really too much trouble,
 
I agree. There is a "threshold of pain" that, once crossed, will cause a user to provide feedback. There is also a "threshold of joy"that, once crossed, will cause a user to provide feedback.

Usually it takes more to cross the threshold of joy than the threshold of pain (b > a). The people you know fall into the middle - the middle ground is huge though. We don't know how they are distributed without a full survey. Your anecdotal evidence would suggest that the "belly" is more toward the y-axis (as opposed to where I painted it). I think with the reasons I detailed in my initial post of this thread, this is likely. 

particularly when Google Groups was also undergoing a new-look metamorphosis and was (and still is) buggy and slow. The complaining (constructive, I hope) is left to a few of us and it's great that we have managed to get someone as responsive as Jeff.  

Yeah, that was an unfortunate coincidence.

Jeff- when is your meeting representatives of the Calendar team?  Is it soon?  Good luck!

It was last week. Sorry I didn't post an update. We're going toward the end of the quarter, which means there is a lot to be finished. It also means it's the perfect time for this to be on the table. I hope I can post a de-confidentialized version of the slides I used - might be interesting, even though most of it has been discussed here.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues theflat 3/30/12 9:16 AM
I am Type 1.
It's all good and well to have colours, but it is incredibly frustrating how multiple colour options WITHIN a calendar don't show on the public calendar. 
This means i have to migrate events that I want to have a distinct color (as seen by the pubic) to a second calendar. This is frustrating because I have enough calendars as it is.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues schtup 4/5/12 8:30 AM
1. I'm pretty happy with it
4. I would love more control over the colors. A 2 color gradient where I can choose both colors would be the ideal solution. It doesn't have to be a gradient. It can be stripes, outlines, patterns, whatever. Combining colors gives me way more options. You can supply as many shades as you want but when it comes right down to it you only have about 6 colors that are different enough from each other to be usable without getting confused. If you had 6 good colors and you got to use two of them at a time then wouldn't the number of possible color combinations be 6^6 or 46656?
5. I'm always in monthly view. I don't see the need to get rid of text color background just because a time has been assigned.


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues JOHYPHEN 4/6/12 8:14 AM
Definitely a 5.  Need more color choices and/or text to be black on all day events.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues mesheree 4/9/12 2:21 PM
I think mental map sizes can go to infinity if they're not visual mental maps.  Mine are auditory and correspond to words, so... yeah.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues conconw 4/10/12 7:10 PM
Type 5 -- And thank you for the attention to colors and for posting!  I almost fainted when I saw this thread!   I use month view primarily and am very much in need of "color shading" for the background of specific days in month view (for shift work).  Are you looking at this as part of your project?  Your existing pastelle palette would be fine for backgrounds (Agendus uses a tap & hold to shade in the background of the day).  As for text, there just needs to be enough contrast to read it.  Dark or light.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 4/10/12 11:03 PM
Hi Jeff

Are you in a position yet to say when or if the calendar colours issue will be addressed? 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/11/12 2:46 PM
> Are you in a position yet to say when or if the calendar colours issue will be addressed? 

No, sorry. I'm currently in a different office for a cross project test summit. I hope I know more next week. I can say that there is a concrete proposal of how it would be implemented on the table - but I don't know if it will get implemented. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/11/12 2:54 PM


On Thursday, April 5, 2012 5:30:11 PM UTC+2, ozizushi wrote:
4. I would love more control over the colors. A 2 color gradient where I can choose both colors would be the ideal solution. It doesn't have to be a gradient. It can be stripes, outlines, patterns, whatever.

Does font color and background color count as 2? Or would it then be 3? If it's three, I can already say this is not going to be implemented in the near future.
 
5. I'm always in monthly view. I don't see the need to get rid of text color background just because a time has been assigned.

Not sure about this. I think it was always like that.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/11/12 3:10 PM

On Monday, April 9, 2012 11:21:36 PM UTC+2, mesheree wrote:
I think mental map sizes can go to infinity if they're not visual mental maps.

Agreed for any practical definition of "infinity".
 
 Mine are auditory and correspond to words, so... yeah.

True. If you need more than 20 or so categories, colors will probably never solve your problem. I'd argue the number is actually lower than 20, but it's certainly not much higher.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Colors bring other advantages. Using words to categorize instead of colors would require a totally different interaction model.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Janinew 4/12/12 10:30 PM
Yes I think the biggest problem I have is  the light grey for the current day. I can juggle the colours but It always seems a bit too faded when viewing the current day. I would like to have holidays shaded  in all for the day. not just a title. Thank you 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 4/13/12 2:04 PM
I know that this is from a slightly different part of the jungle, but I wonder if there is any help to be found here?
There seems to be so much more clarity.
Colin
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 4/13/12 2:42 PM
Nah. That'll never do. They were "#opentochange" and responded the same day. Apparently not the Google way. Google has to have a meeting and a presentation and go think about it.

Sure is a different Google nowadays.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 4/14/12 11:01 PM
Here's a further example of colour contrast done correctly by another webmail service, Inbox.com.  They have just revamped their webmail look and feel.  It is interesting to see how they have done their Label colours with white text on the darker coloured backgrounds and black text on the lighter backgrounds.  In my opinion they have got it exactly right.
I still have difficulty understanding why and how the Google Calendar team came up with the new look colour combinations and, more importantly, why they don't seem to have made it a priority to put it right.  Gmail with its Label colouring has it right, Google Calendar with its Calendar colours has it very wrong.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/17/12 2:29 AM
On Wednesday, April 11, 2012 8:03:42 AM UTC+2, Sisyphus wrote:

Are you in a position yet to say when or if the calendar colours issue will be addressed?  

As you probably all know, I can't share details and plans here. All I can share is that I have a strong feeling that a big part of you will be happier about calendar colors in the future. 

P.S. Please don't ask for details and dates - I know it's hard - but this is really all I can say at this point and I'm only sharing my strong feeling because I think you guys/gals deserve it for being patient and helpful.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 4/17/12 9:18 AM
Well, are you going to pass out candy and popcorn to at least keep us happy in the interim?  I personally like those easter color m&ms.  Thanks.
:)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues orlic 4/20/12 4:03 PM
I am TYPE 5 definitely.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Confus 4/24/12 8:18 PM
Read entire thread and lots of others re Google's re-design of calendar and gmail. Still don't understand what was wrong with the old design. Something to do with creating a standard look across platforms, as if we all wanted that. But old designs were pleasure to use, colors, contrast, shapes, layout, themes...The only problem with the old stuff was the need for themes in Calendars to color the white space around the calendar (putting photos inside the calendar was never a readable option). New design is flat, even the buttons are flat, more difficult for many people to read, especially for us with sight issues. More wasted space for laptop screens (huge header bar and tiny buttons on too wide menu bar), white space, no contrast, white on dirty gray on dirtier gray, font on bg color problems, irritating for a tool used all day every day. Seems designed by people who never studied art or art history or the basic rules of graphic design. (And flipping the Tea House was just mean.) Seems so much labor to force this to work. What Jeff is going through on this thread alone seems like forcing a square peg into a round hole. So much angst about the colors! Why not just keep the old colors, no one had a problem with them, why change them in the first place? Why not give us the option of keeping old look? That would be one way of finding out how many people really prefer one over the other.  I really don't understand. Everyone, even Jeff, refers to Google as if it's a separate entity from us humans, grown so big the people who make up the organization can't control it and are afraid of it. Reading this thread I picture him putting all this information about the colors he has grown and harvested into a bowl and walking shakily up to an alter. After the offering, running back to us, the flock, and whispering that he can't say for sure but the god might be bestow something nice upon us soon. How arrogant of this god to think all our protests are "change aversion", and whatever they want us to have we will accept in the end. He'll probably write back, like some other google people on other threads, that they are listening to us and are trying to make changes to accommodate us: again, so much work for something we didn't want in the first place. Just stop. Go back. I've been a google calendar and gmail user for years. I'm so sorry I'll have to look elsewhere. I feel like I'm going through a divorce. I'm actually grieving. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues BeffyJo 4/24/12 8:24 PM
This is the greatest response to this discussion. Nothing more needs to be said.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 4/25/12 12:31 AM

I wish I had put it this well when I originally responded.

CC

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues schtup 4/25/12 6:48 AM
You'll get over it.

First of all, it's a free service. Second, when was the last time a major corporation gave a crap about what you thought of their product? You were led to a forum where you can make suggestions, get answers, and vent. Making Jeff out to be an Igor is a low blow. He has a boss to answer to just like everyone else and I'm sure that there are many things that he can not talk about to the public. Also, speaking in the "we" is not fair. The people that are perfectly content with the current version are not on this forum complaining about how perfect it is for them.

Everyone feels your pain though. If all they had to do was make me happy they could have it done by next week. Instead, I have to resign myself to wondering if they'll make the changes that I want and whether it will happen next week, next year, or never.

Your post does bring up a question. For someone who just wants the old colors, shouldn't they have that option? How about a "classic view" link? For that matter, why not come up with a variety of views to choose from? Is it easier said than done?

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Confus 4/25/12 2:41 PM
This is in response to schtup: "free service"? Google has my family's entire life on it's calendar, in gmail, my documents, even an image of my dog in my back yard on maps/earth. Our eyes are a captive audience/focus group for its advertisers. They know what I search, what I buy, who I talk to, even if it is lumped into trends and statistics and not personalized. We may not pay them a subscription in cash, but they are certainly making money off of us. Nothing in life is free, my friend. It should by a mutual, symbiotic relationship. Which is what gives us the right to say "do your part to keep this relationship a pleasant one or I will go work with someone else." 
By "we" I thought it was understood I was not including those who like the changes. I still maintain, since so there have been so much conjecture as to how many of "them" there are, if google gives everyone the choice between old and new we would get some concrete data.
I'm old enough to remember when there was only one Coca Cola, and what happened when they introduced "New Coke" to taste more like Pepsi, and had to bring back "Classic Coke". I remember when Downy Fabric Softener used to smell wonderful, before they "improved" it with less expensive fragrances. Ah, the good old days...

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 4/25/12 2:56 PM
Yuppers -- I agree here.  I keep hearing "It's a free service, so stop complaining" -- except that there's a clear business model based around providing free service.  A company provides the service, and the targeted ads pay for it.  Now... in this model, we're not the customers -- we're the product.  Kinda.  In other words, the people who pay the bills are the advertisers, and they're interested in seeing a strong user base of people who will turn into paying customers for *their* goods.  But then, in order to keep a strong user base, the product needs to be appealing.  There's alternates out there -- we could all jump ship for Yahoo or Hotmail, or a plethora of other options.  GMail wants you to pick them, and needs to make sure that we're getting what we want/need.  We have to *like* what we see.  And the only way the Google folks know if that's true is if we post in the forums.  If we whine and gripe here, then they know things aren't so hot.  But what's worse than whiners is silence.  The silence doesn't tell them a thing.  They're not mind-readers, so they can't fix the things we're unhappy about.

So... I say, whine away. Although, please whine constructively, if possible.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/30/12 5:12 AM
First, sorry for taking so long to reply. It's been a busy week.


On Wednesday, April 25, 2012 5:18:51 AM UTC+2, Confus wrote:
Read entire thread and lots of others re Google's re-design of calendar and gmail.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, it clearly shows in your well worded post below.
 
Still don't understand what was wrong with the old design. Something to do with creating a standard look across platforms, as if we all wanted that. But old designs were pleasure to use, colors, contrast, shapes, layout, themes...The only problem with the old stuff was the need for themes in Calendars to color the white space around the calendar (putting photos inside the calendar was never a readable option). New design is flat, even the buttons are flat, more difficult for many people to read, especially for us with sight issues. More wasted space for laptop screens (huge header bar and tiny buttons on too wide menu bar), white space, no contrast, white on dirty gray on dirtier gray, font on bg color problems, irritating for a tool used all day every day. Seems designed by people who never studied art or art history or the basic rules of graphic design. (And flipping the Tea House was just mean.)

I can only talk for the Calendar side of things. As you noted, the reason we put a new design in place is because we want our apps to look more like one product line, more like they are from the same company. The goal is to make it easier for users to find his/her way around in Google products. This is the goal - now obviously, people who already know an application inside out don't benefit from that as much as new users.
 
Seems so much labor to force this to work. What Jeff is going through on this thread alone seems like forcing a square peg into a round hole. So much angst about the colors! Why not just keep the old colors, no one had a problem with them, why change them in the first place? Why not give us the option of keeping old look?

Keeping the old look was never an option. We had them in parallel for a while and it basically meant twice the work for each feature.
 
That would be one way of finding out how many people really prefer one over the other.  I really don't understand. Everyone, even Jeff, refers to Google as if it's a separate entity from us humans, grown so big the people who make up the organization can't control it and are afraid of it.

This mixes some pretty accurate points with some that aren't right. Google is a separate entity from us humans, namely it's a legal entity, a juristic person, a company. That doesn't mean we're afraid of it or that we don't control it. But each team doesn't live in a vacuum. We do want to work with other teams, we do want to support company wide initiatives to make Google products better in the long run. 
 
Reading this thread I picture him putting all this information about the colors he has grown and harvested into a bowl and walking shakily up to an alter.

I never walk shakily :-)
 
After the offering, running back to us, the flock, and whispering that he can't say for sure but the god might be bestow something nice upon us soon.

I like the way you describe things, and I'm sorry I can't share all the internal details with everybody. So if this is how people like to think it all works within Google, I'm ok with that (except for the walking shakily part...). :-)
 
 How arrogant of this god to think all our protests are "change aversion", and whatever they want us to have we will accept in the end.

This arrogance is actually us humans, not Google the company. We believe we have a pretty cool product in Calendar and we hope to make it better still. But whenever I try to improve things, there is also a chance that I make it worse for some people. Now I can back down and go back to the old way and stop improving, or I can keep going in the new direction because I believe it's right. The second one, coupled with too little communication, has a tendency to make me look arrogant. It still might be the right way to go.

On a separate note, I hate the argument "change aversion" and I'm fighting it wherever I see it.

He'll probably write back, like some other google people on other threads, that they are listening to us and are trying to make changes to accommodate us

Just so you're not disappointed: I'm trying to listen to all of you, and we're trying to make things better.
 
: again, so much work for something we didn't want in the first place. Just stop. Go back. I've been a google calendar and gmail user for years. I'm so sorry I'll have to look elsewhere. I feel like I'm going through a divorce. I'm actually grieving. 

That's sad, but there is little I can do in the short run. I'm hopeful though that your love for Gmail and Calendar will come back again and of course we'd like to be married to you again.
 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/30/12 5:33 AM

On Wednesday, April 25, 2012 3:48:19 PM UTC+2, schtup wrote:

Making Jeff out to be an Igor is a low blow. He has a boss to answer to just like everyone else and I'm sure that there are many things that he can not talk about to the public.

Thanks for stepping up for me, even though I didn't consider it a low blow. The second part is certainly true, and I'm stretching what is usually shared in forums as far as i dare. I understand people want more and people want to see results faster.
 
Your post does bring up a question. For someone who just wants the old colors, shouldn't they have that option? How about a "classic view" link? For that matter, why not come up with a variety of views to choose from? Is it easier said than done?

Having many different views would be a lot of work. There are a lot of things we can spend time on. So this would need to be prioritized against all other things we could work on instead.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 4/30/12 5:43 AM
Jeff--there is a big difference between new functionality and new look.

You may state that humans are change adverse, but I think you have it slightly wrong.  Humans (or better, users of product) are change adverse if we think that the systems and products worked well, and then the manufacturer changes them for the worse.  The company may not think the change is for the worse, but the end user is the judge of that.  

For example:  You (google) want to get a uniform standard across your product.  Fair enough.  But why mess up the color schemes that are working very well for your users to achieve that goal?  Why change it from blue frame outlining the email box to no frame?  Why change it from blue tint over the read-emails to a grey that you can barely perceive?  Why change it from a color scheme on calendars that worked very very well (as you can tell by us gripers) to a dysfunctional color scheme at best (with dark fonts on dark background)?

I could go on and repeat everything we discussed ad nauseum, but the point is, there is change for uniformity; there is change for improved functionality, but we don't understand collectively why change the things that are working fine.  Why make it harder to use your product?  The classic example is "new coke" which the corporate heads were convinced is a better product, yet the masses spoke.  It's almost like google wasted all this money developing an "improved" product and will not say--we wasted the money in developing, so therefore, we are right and the user is wrong, and well, we dont' waste money here at google so the users are wrong.

We are your feedback--the vocal minority, yes, but I would think we are the more advanced users who should not be dismissed quite so easily (not by you so much as by google the corporate enterprise, unless you are one and the same).
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/30/12 5:49 AM

On Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:41:35 PM UTC+2, Confus wrote:
Nothing in life is free, my friend. It should by a mutual, symbiotic relationship. Which is what gives us the right to say "do your part to keep this relationship a pleasant one or I will go work with someone else." 

I totally agree with this. But you do simplify a bit. Our relationship is with a few million people. And it's not impossible that a part likes a change and another part doesn't.
 
By "we" I thought it was understood I was not including those who like the changes. I still maintain, since so there have been so much conjecture as to how many of "them" there are, if google gives everyone the choice between old and new we would get some concrete data.
I'm old enough to remember when there was only one Coca Cola, and what happened when they introduced "New Coke" to taste more like Pepsi, and had to bring back "Classic Coke". I remember when Downy Fabric Softener used to smell wonderful, before they "improved" it with less expensive fragrances. Ah, the good old days...

Hehehe. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues MistyZ 4/30/12 6:25 AM
I'd say I'm mostly 3 & 4.  For me, there are not enough different colors, and the colors are too dull.  I would like to be able to differentiate between categories in a single calendar, and would like to have more options.  Also the colors should be brighter, not so flat.  Would also like more contrast within the color groups.  The gradation in hues within color families is too similar.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 4/30/12 7:59 AM


On Monday, April 30, 2012 2:43:08 PM UTC+2, What'swrongwithcolor? wrote:
Jeff--there is a big difference between new functionality and new look.

Not sure if I agree. I guess it depends on what we're looking at.
 
You may state that humans are change adverse, but I think you have it slightly wrong.  Humans (or better, users of product) are change adverse if we think that the systems and products worked well, and then the manufacturer changes them for the worse.  The company may not think the change is for the worse, but the end user is the judge of that.  

Sorry, I must not have been clear when I wrote: "I hate the argument 'change aversion' and I'm fighting it wherever I see it." What I meant is, that I do not believe in change aversion(*). I think it's an argument to make people shut up and as such it's always bad. It prevents proper discussion about the reasons WHY people don't want to change. People will always change to something they clearly like better and as such, this is what we should strive for. Alas, this is my own personal opinion.

(*) Change aversion does exist. Using it as an argument of why people don't want to change is stupid though.
 
I could go on and repeat everything we discussed ad nauseum, but the point is, there is change for uniformity; there is change for improved functionality, but we don't understand collectively why change the things that are working fine.  Why make it harder to use your product?

I think I explained the reasons why this had to happen. Maybe I didn't do a good job, but I'm afraid I'm unable to be more clear.
 
We are your feedback--the vocal minority, yes, but I would think we are the more advanced users who should not be dismissed quite so easily (not by you so much as by google the corporate enterprise, unless you are one and the same).

I don't think you are being dismissed. Not by me and not by Google the company. I understand that you feel dismissed by Google, but you have to understand that it takes longer for a company to react than for an individual.
Colors - Summary of the color issues charlie_w 5/7/12 8:00 PM
Type 4....  But I think you're missing something here:
Don't waste too much time figuring out why users are unhappy with the color choices when there is any easy solution that can satisfy 99.9% of users:
Implement a color picker.  There's no reason we can't choose our own colors.
I've been experimenting with Calengoo app on iPhone and it let's me choose any color I want for each calendar. Why can't the native Google system allow the same?
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Harry1357 5/9/12 4:44 AM
no one cares what you hink
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 5/9/12 6:33 AM
@Harry1357: I checked your two posts so far. Your third one better be a good one. A post with an apology to charlie_w would be a good start.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 5/9/12 6:40 AM
I agree with the second part of your statement (all about the color picker).

I don't agree with the first one. I believe understanding why this change made so many people unhappy is important. Understanding means: something like this is less likely to happen again. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues H.E.D 5/13/12 1:45 AM
REPLY TO 
There is a "threshold of pain" that, once crossed, will cause a user to provide feedback. There is also a "threshold of joy"that, once crossed, will cause a user to provide feedback.

Well I accidently found a little button called Selectable Calendar colors went in had a look and loved it so set it up to work automatically it worked great for 10 days (yes I use Google Chrome) then I added an item to my calendar and it didnt work left the color at a puccy brick color tried to go to the selectable colors button to find out what had happened and it was gone it is no where to be found, in the mean time I had been on here and somewhere had put a message telling others how good it was, thanking Google for the very clever and sensible little tool, that allowed me to automatically color code things just by adding a code word to my entry, But now it has gone plus it has stopped working in fact the color choice is now so bad that even if I now choose one of those pathetic pale colors it changes back to thew pooky or pucky brick color my whole calendar is now almost without exception the one most horrid color, its harder to read now than it has ever been and I dont have time to go and change every entry to some other pale color, even repeated events need to be individually color entered now so I am disgusted. Can I at least have the selectable colors back. at least I could choose bold ones.
 

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues H.E.D 5/13/12 1:50 AM
do you still have that nifty little button as mine has gone and my selectable colors dont work anymore I think it was just a tease to see how many would bite.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues James@AZ 5/13/12 5:22 PM
Glad to see I'm not the only one who VERY STRONGLY DISLIKES the new Google Calendar look.

Summary of why:  Type 4 / Type 5 / Type 6 / Type 7
Yeah 4 of them, must be why I got rather angry (and I rarely do) when the calendar first switched on me.

FYI - I'm a senior software architect / developer with a lot of GUI design experience.  I'm going to take the time to detail out my thoughts and reasoning since I've spent a lot of time thinking about these sorts of issues professionally and Google products are important to me.  Hopefully you take the time to read this and find it of value.

My #1 issue - The new Month View (but NOT your Type 5).  I open up my calendar and it literally takes me like 15-20 seconds just to figure out which day is TODAY.  Yes, its a month view, but my attention always starts at today because without knowing which day is today nothing else is really relevant.  Using a light gray background to highlight the most important thing on the calendar when the page background is light in color and many of the events use the color grey really, really, REALLY does not work.  For this sole reason I will end up using a different calendar system if this does not change.  And I love Google Calendar, use it extensively, its on all my devices, etc.  I don't care.  If I have to I'll pay for a solution that is 50% as useful but doesn't waste my time and and annoy me every single time I open it up.  Does this fall into Type 7?  Maybe you want to consider this as an adjunct to Type 7 since it relates to putting everything in context.  More prominent grid lines would also make it a lot easier and visually appealing for me.  I've set the "dim prior events" options in an event to make where today is more obvious, but it hasn't helped much.  Which it has done is further muddy the range of very similar colors thus making the categorization issues (see Type 4 below) even worse.

Type 4    - Why do I have so many grey events on my calendar?  Grey means events that are optional.  They are things that show up from public calendars that I may or may not be interested in doing.  Grey means unimportant.  I'd suggest given nearly any set of color choices if you asked most people they would say grey would rank the least important / significant.  Yet for some reason Google chose to use grey to highlight today.  Believe I used to have 2 greys to choose from (a light and a black) which I used to differentiate between sources, I can't do that at all now since there is only one grey.  Then there is the lack of black which I had used to represent holidays.  Black is an awesome color, it really stands out yet doesn't convey importance or relevance to other events of similar color.  I tend to forget about some of the lesser holidays and I hate driving into work just to find it deserted.  Think I'm now trying to use brown for holidays now, but it just doesn't work.  I unintentionally ignore it, tan/brown designates optional and not necessarily important just like grey.  If I picked one of your new bold colors for holidays the hue would convey some other meaning.  Blues are personal events (bright are confirmed, light are tentative).  Green is travel (bright for confirmed plans, light for tentative events/festivals/etc that would require travel).  Pink relates to women.  Red/orange are critical events (red for personal, orange for work).  Purples are side projects or miscellaneous.  Maybe this sounds complicated to some, but in the old Google Calendar it gave me an instant feel for the entire month in context to the present and immediate past/future.  And it renders me lost and seriously lacking in the new color scheme.

Type 5  - This has been a long running problem for me, even with the old user interface.  I stopped setting times on any of my events and almost all are all day event on my calendars so that it is easy to read and if there is a time associated I put it in the title as text.  Yes, this causes me to loose important functionality and sucks but it does make the month view workable which is where I spend most of my time.  Actually why can't the calendar display all of the event types for a day the exact same way?  I'd vastly prefer it in general if ALL events were displayed like all day events with colored backgrounds so that they stand out.  Why can't all day events appear at the top with no time then have timed events show up under those with a time at their left side?  The presence or lack of a time would be a very clear indicator of the difference between all day vs timed events.  Then the display of events on the calendar would then be consistent.  Having the all day events stand out so much more is a detriment and has caused me to make all events all day so that the timed events don't get missed.  I suppose for people who rarely have all day events this does not matter, but most of the tentative events I pull in from external calendars are entered as all day events.  So pretty much every day on my calendar has at least 1 all day event.  The timed events are usually the important events on my calendar, but they fade into the background compared to all day events.

Type 6  - Those damn diagonal strips really annoyed the hell out of me when I first switched over.  Due to those and not being able to quickly find the current day I actually stopped using Google Calendar for awhile.  I can tell you exactly why I don't like the stripes, its related to the others though so I'm including it here instead of your other thread.  Sorry if you'd prefer I posted it there, this is already very lengthy and I don't want to duplicate / have to repeat parts of it in another thread.  First, it is more difficult to read text over a varying background than over a solid background.  This is a general truism but I'm sure varies and is probably also affected by a person's eyesight and possibly if they are color blind.  I didn't even know what it meant or why it was happening, it wasn't until reading your message just now that I realized the stripes appear for read-only events.  Which brings me to the other and more significant reason why I HATED the strips but couldn't put my finger on why until now.  The stripes draw attention and read-only events from external calendars tend to be less important.  One click of a button and instead of an improved Calendar experience my entire world of calendaring imploded and became useless.  You guys didn't even try to map colors in the old scheme to similar colors in the new one, so suddenly all my events and calendars were randomly categorized, the unimportant events were jumping out and smacking me in the eyes while many of the important ones were fading into the background.  It was horrible.  Frankly you're very, very lucky I came back to try and sort this crap out at all.  If you were not Google and your damn calendar wasn't tightly integrated into my Android phone I would have written it and you off for this nonsense.

Type 2  - I'm trying to adapt to the new colors in regard to my Type 4 color usage.  There are several colors of each shade, they are mostly just different.  But there are some cases where there just isn't anything equivalent to the old colors.  Black is a perfect example.  I really miss black as an event color.  Also, there are 3 bold red/orange choices (3, 4 & 5 on the top row) but they are way too similar.  In fact, I've never been accused of being color blind, but I find it somewhat difficult to see the difference between bright red (3) and the other bright red-ish color (4).  The bright orange (5) is different, but not enough to stand out.  What would help?  Replace the red-ish (4) color I mention with a very bright and obvious orange.  Add a bright aqua, purple and fuschia.

Writing this message I'm reminded of how poorly the colors Google chose for their new look and feel work.  I feel the pain even in Gmail.  Calendar is plagued by pastels and very little contrast, yet Gmail couldn't even get the pastels right.  You know what I just realized?  Your teams got it backwards.  The color palette here in Gmail would work much better for Calendar and the color palette of Calendar would work pretty well here in Gmail.   Sorry, I know that was obnoxiously bright blue, but that's kinda my point.  Really stands out doesn't it?  I'd love to be able to make events stand out like that on Calendar, but its rather overkill here in Gmail.  Many of the Calendar pastels would work very nicely as backgrounds for text here.  Though do note that Gmail would still need the dark jewel tones for text colors, pastels are horrible for text and make it difficult to read.  I'd also love to have black and a selection of greys in Calendar!

Gmail - A bit off topic, but related.
This is what I was writing when I noticed the comparison between Gmail & Calendar colors.  Look at the colors in context of the highlighter tool.  When you highlight text you want it to stand out.  Generally you use either something bold and bright or a bright yet subtle color (basically a very bright pastel).  Gmail has a bunch of obnoxiously bold colors to choose from, just look at the first row of colors underneath the greys.  Hey, check that out, Gmail has the FULL spectrum of greys including white and black to choose from!  The 3rd row down are the lightest colors Gmail offers, but they don't pop or really stand out, making them not very useful as highlighter colors.  Comparing the first 2 rows of colors might help:

     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this? 

     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this?     How about this? 

The top line is extremely bold, sometimes too much.  I'd say the yellow, green & aqua work well for very bight highlights.  Maybe the fuchsia.  Red, blue and purple definately need an alternative that is still bold yet lighter in shade so text shows up better on them.  Move down to the 2nd line, which should provide that but doesn't.  The colors here just feel drab and similar.  Please note that the 2 colors on the edges (under red and fuchsia) are nearly identical.  The ones under aqua and blue are too close as well.  But none of those 2nd highlights stand out.  Not really the color set I'd choose for writing text, just like the Calendar colors are poor choices when it comes to categorization.  I think that's an important fact to remember, the entire point of having colors in Calendar is to categorize.  When you categorize things you want the ability to both group and show importance (low, medium & high).  Pastels don't work for diverse categorization needs.  When people write text they generally aren't categorizing, they are either tying to highlight certain things as important or make things look nice.  Pastels are quite good at making text look nice.

Back on the topic of Calendar (well mostly)
So what colors would I choose?  I went through this same problem with Excel.  In general I think Microsoft sucks at all things GUI related. Most of the time I have to toggle or adjust literally almost every GUI default in their products.  But like Google their prior versions of Office had a pretty good selection of colors to choose from, which they threw out and replaced by junk in their new version.  At least Microsoft had the forethought to allow user customization.  I spent several hours one day building myself a custom color palette, took quite a while but in the end was well worth it because I use it on every document and spreadsheet now.  Only problem is when I use someone else's version of Office I get very annoyed having to use the junk colors again.

I had specific goals in mind for a color set.
  • Need a diverse set of color groups with multiple distinct colors in each group for categorization in Excel.
  • Need both light colored pastel and bright (but not obnoxious) choice in each color group for highlighting text (both Word & Excel).
  • Need dark yet still distinct color (jewel tones) choice in each group for text so that the text can be distinctly colorized yet remain readable.
  • Need at least one range of choices that stand separate from the other groups but can still convey importance or difference within the group itself. 

For reference I find my usage of Excel matches up pretty well with Google Calendar as Word does with Gmail.



The palette I came up with met and actually ended up exceeding all of my goals.  The way the colors are arranged isn't quite uniform (I can't say for example that I'd always you the top row for X purpose), but that's due to querks in how Office makes you select colors.  You pick a few colors then it generates the range of associated colors in that spectrum.  Regardless of layout, there are colors in each group suitable for every stated goal.  As a bonus I got the gold/brown tones which I had never had as color choices previously.  I find these make a great addition and work similar to the white/grey/black group.  Something like this would likely work equally well in both Calendar and Gmail.

By the way I made that screen shot a bit larger on purpose.  Notice "Title" and a, b, c, etc?  That's what I have configured for my default worksheet.  The Google UI team may like displays that are visually subtle with very little differentiation, but I do not.

Which brings up an important question: Why must Google lock everyone into the same set of very limited colors?  It would be nice if there was one set of colors that did everything well for everyone.  But what is that saying about trying to be all things to all people?  The ability to customize your own colors for use in Calendar & Gmail would be excellent.  Then if people don't like your defaults they can go in and change them until they are once again happy again.  I didn't immediately stop using Calendar, I *IMMEDIATELY* started looking for the "customization" settings.  Only once I realized there were none (absolutely and completely NONE) did I give up in disgust.  Put choice back in the hands of the users where it belongs instead of making decisions for them.  What you like or dislike is not going to work for a fairly large percentage of the population.  People are different and use the same tools for different tasks.  That's my #1 rule as a GUI developer, remember that different people do things differently and provide them the options and flexibility to work their way instead of assuming everyone does things my way.  If all out customization is too much effort then how about providing maybe 10 or 20 pre-built themes with various color selections that users can choose from?  I'd suggest offering that anyway, even if full customization is possible because some users may dislike the colors but not want to spend time making their own palette.  Defaults + selection of pre-built themes + customization controls = enough options that nearly everyone can have it "their" way.

Sorry this ended up being so long but its a very important issue that has a lot of subtleties.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues James@AZ 5/13/12 5:36 PM
My detailed post above dropped the sample color palette unfortunately.

I'm guessing Google doesn't allow images / attachments on here?  Too bad, such things can be very useful when discussing GUI issues.  I'm going to attempt attaching it to this message instead of putting it in-line.  If that doesn't work any anyone on Google staff would actually like to see it please feel free to email me.  I know my email doesn't display on here publicly, but you work for Google and I grant you permission to lookup my email address if that helps any.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Rochelg 5/14/12 12:33 AM
happy to oblige but find it hard to categorize myself as a type of person when i don't totally relate to any of them.
I like a larger selection of very different colors.
 
I'd like some colors to have assigned roles, so like you can have one color for an event and a second color universally assigned as "Get ready time" for the event, so that time challenged people (I can categorize myself as that type) can see visually what they have to be doing during the day.
 
I like bold distinctive colors, the pastels all look kind of alike. For printing purposes i'd be happy if they all fade to pastel, symbols or whatever, as anyway the printouts become obsolete in five minutes. so what I'd like is at least six, or preferably eight, very different looking colors. And an assignment button so I can read easily which color means what. Sometimes thera are layers of meaning, so to be able to have stripes AND a color to mean it's an event out of the house and very urgent would be good.,
 
OK I think I'm getting off track, so let me try again> I like the model of Type 4. However, i don't care if you occaisionally change which colors are available as long as I can easily substitute with another, and, as mentioned, show my assignment labels - what color means what.
 

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 5/14/12 2:00 AM

On Sunday, May 13, 2012 10:50:45 AM UTC+2, H.e.d wrote:
do you still have that nifty little button as mine has gone and my selectable colors dont work anymore I think it was just a tease to see how many would bite.

I just checked and it seems to still work fine. The button not being there, seems to indicate that the extension isn't installed or enabled anymore. Can you check in chrome://extensions? If it's not there, please reinstall from: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ijnakmdnmiebbnjmcldnjnhnlbhfhcde?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues H.E.D 5/14/12 5:08 AM
Thank you thank you thank you 
I had done a search in tools for anything that looked likely to help but found nothing and still cant see the extensions in the tool menu but I now have the little selectable colors button again so now I will set it all up again and see if it will work automatically by code word for me like it did before
Thank you
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues H.E.D 5/14/12 5:16 AM
I consider my self a type 4 and a type 7 also is there a limit to the number of colors I can program to work automatically using the  ;Word, b-c, f-c" for example: Gym, #ff0000, #000000; concept as I put in codes for 12 subjects but non would work when i cut it back to 5 I got them to work, is there a maximum that can be used. Fortunately I don't have any shared items in my cal. as the stripes would be most annoying
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 5/14/12 7:34 AM
Hi James

Thanks for sharing this. There are a lot of good points in there and I'll forward some of them to the rest of the team. Especially the part about today in month view and why you use all day events exclusively are very interesting.

I feel like I owe you more of a reply, but 

1 - I don't know what to write
2 - I don't have the time to address all of it

OTOH I did read it all, and I did take the time to forward parts of your post to the team (with a link here, so they can read the full post).
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 5/14/12 1:42 PM
@James

Thanks for keeping the pot boiling on this.  You're right - it is important to get usability done properly.  At present, as you have pointed out. there are many problems with the implementation of Google Calendar.  Personally, I think Microsoft has at least understood the issue of contrast (ie readability) between background colour and text whereas the calendar colour palette currently in Google Calendar leaves so much to be desired.  Don't know what they were thinking but Jeff Vadar gives me hope that things will change for the better soon - right Jeff?
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues James@AZ 5/14/12 11:23 PM
Cool, glad to be of some help.  Look forward to seeing some improvements come from this process.  :)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues James@AZ 5/14/12 11:26 PM
P.S.  You don't owe me any more of a reply.  You guys needed (and thankfully were seeking) feedback.  All I need is for Google to act on the feedback and improve useability.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues m_dion 5/22/12 10:29 AM
I relate to 3,4 and 5. Overall, the colors are too light for text reading. Why not make the palette we have available here, for writing this message, available in Calendar? The Google docs presentation tool also has a complete palette of light and dark colors. I'm in the Calendar all the time, mostly in the month view, and it is just miserable to look at.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues schtup 5/22/12 11:42 AM
Right now I would settle for something that lets me highlight the entire day in month view for days where one of the calendar items is actually important. I'm suffering from calendar spam. Can't exactly turns my wife's calendar off because it's too important but I don't need to see her daily work schedule either. Can you fix my wife?

I should just be able to stamp the day somehow regardless of whether it contains a calendar entry. Maybe gold stars or a plain or photo background.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues K Willow 5/25/12 9:15 AM
I am a 4; use case: categorizing on several calendars .  I want to differentiate meetings by location.  I would just like more colors.  Or maybe the ability to create or customize my own color scheme.
I know I'm asking a lot....but a girl can dream.

Thanks.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Gegedebora 6/9/12 4:16 PM
I'd like to have an option with diagonal stripe, this will double the choice of colors...or definite an event as "not yet sure" and "sure"... TKS
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jon Grossart 6/11/12 10:23 AM
I'm probably 2,3, and 4. I think the colors are generally just too the same. I get having a limited palate of colors to choose from for the standard user, but why aren't they more different than having multiple shades of only 3-4 colors. I would think if you have 24 basic colors, it should 3-4 shades of the basic colors.

And also, why isn't there just a box that lets people select their own custom color as well. Wouldn't that really solve everything? The color only really matters to the person looking at the calendar, not Google. Have some sane, predefined colors and a text box or sliders for customizing. This would also let businesses brand indentity show through for there own calends.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues cheryl13 6/11/12 4:02 PM
Type 5 - I agree the calendar Sleepless posted is ideal.  So easy to read.  I don't want a little color block beside the event when I select a color (shown with the red circle in the attachment), I want the entire event highlighted in that color.

I appreciate the information gathering as well.

Also, on menus, having a black highlight on a gray background is impossible to read (also see attachment).  I thought there would be a setting somewhere that would let me change that, and maybe it's one of the labs I have enabled, but it's horrible.  If I hadn't known where the settings button was, I never would have been able to see it.

Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues n4r4 6/13/12 2:53 AM
type 4, an a little 5

agree with the comment about sleepless calendar. that was really the best version
i also agree with cheryl13 regarding the colour block. it's really annoying and hard to notice
diagonal stripes don't work with me either

i need something vivid and strong, when i glance at my calendar, not some baby colours that all look the same

please understand this is not "i don't like changes" kind of thing
for a lot of people, pastel colours are a huge problem

for some time i used chrome extension "selectable calendar colors" because it offered the possibility of adding custom colours
but with some of the new chrome updates it stopped working as well and now i'm back at square one


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues ellenb2 6/27/12 5:57 PM
Level 5 - Strong preference for a blue color scheme, can't see black type on it. White type is likely readable
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 6/27/12 6:42 PM
Jeff,

This thread is now almost four months old.  I am curious -- what is the status update? And why is this all taking so long?  And why was an utterly useless Google+ feature added to the calendar while severe readability issues have gone unaddressed?

I understand that a lot of this is out of your control... but let me tell you, I am royally irritated with *someone* right now.  Please... four months later... fill us in on what's going on, to the maximum extent you're allowed.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 6/28/12 1:13 AM
sleeplessbooks,

It's getting close. As you can imagine, the +Events was a pretty big deal for our team (sad to hear that you find it utterly useless) and took up all of our testing capacity the last few weeks. 

I hope we can address the following types in the next 2 - 3 weeks (*)

Type 3 (both use cases)
Type 4 (second use case)
Type 5

(*) As usual, time is relative and this is just a best guess. If things run super smooth, it might be sooner. If we find major issues, it might be later.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues jopsie 7/2/12 11:42 PM
Hi Jeff.  I'm a 4 and 5 and find the new color scheme both likeable, and useable.  However..once the colors start filling the calendar especially with weeklong events, the actual date of the month gets obscured.  It would be nice if: 1.  the date were bold, and 2.  perhaps the ability to make an entire week have its own background color, or 3. alternate colors for the background.  If these options are already available and i just haven't been lucky enough to find them, it would be great to know.  Otherwise, would love to see them.  Thanks! 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 7/3/12 8:56 AM
These options aren't available (so you haven't been unlucky). Thanks for the suggestions, I'm not sure any of them will find their way into calendar, but I'll keep them in mind.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 7/18/12 6:38 AM
On Thursday, June 28, 2012 10:13:50 AM UTC+2, Jeff Vader wrote:

It's getting close. 

 I'm afraid we found a blocking bug, and the release is delayed until this is fixed. Shouldn't take too long, just wanted to keep you up to date.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 7/18/12 6:59 AM
Thanks for the comment.

Mr. Vader:  How responsible was the newly departed Ms. Mayer for the design changes on google calendar, gmail, docs, etc?  If the news media are right that she is responsible for all or many of these design changes, can we expect a return to more normalcy (and acceptable color schemes, design, etc) now that she is gone? 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 7/18/12 7:55 AM
On Wednesday, July 18, 2012 3:59:28 PM UTC+2, What'swrongwithcolor? wrote:

Mr. Vader:  How responsible was the newly departed Ms. Mayer for the design changes on google calendar, gmail, docs, etc? 

She was Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services. So I expect that she had nothing at all to do with it (or very little).
 
If the news media are right that she is responsible for all or many of these design changes, can we expect a return to more normalcy (and acceptable color schemes, design, etc) now that she is gone?  

I don't think her departure will have any noticeable effect on Google Calendars design. I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but this is how it looks from my point of view.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Confus 7/18/12 6:28 PM
Can I still hope in the Tea House theme will be restored in the next release: flip it back to the original orientation with the house on the left, fix the day/night sky/land transitions that used to be smooth, and go back to the white space for the emails instead of the horrid black it is now in the evening? Please? I'd like to be able to see the character that has been hidden behind the email window since Google flipped the background horizontally. So many people complained in so many forums I'm surprised there's been no explanation as to why it was changed and no attempt to describe how the changes are an improvement. It was a really popular theme. Can we have it back? (I know this is about calendars, but Jeff Vader seems to be actually communicating with us - thanks)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues sleeplessbooks 7/18/12 7:08 PM
All in favor of making Jeff Vader the new Google CEO, say aye!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 7/19/12 6:14 AM
On Thursday, July 19, 2012 3:28:57 AM UTC+2, Confus wrote:
Can I still hope in the Tea House theme will be restored in the next release: flip it back to the original orientation with the house on the left, fix the day/night sky/land transitions that used to be smooth, and go back to the white space for the emails instead of the horrid black it is now in the evening? Please? I'd like to be able to see the character that has been hidden behind the email window since Google flipped the background horizontally. So many people complained in so many forums I'm surprised there's been no explanation as to why it was changed and no attempt to describe how the changes are an improvement. It was a really popular theme. Can we have it back? (I know this is about calendars, but Jeff Vader seems to be actually communicating with us - thanks)

I can't really talk about the future too much - even if it's about Calendar. I have absolutely no insights into Gmail, so I certainly won't comment on what they will or will not do.

From what I can tell (http://productforums.google.com/d/msg/gmail/JsGkeou-bIo/zKA336bYdJ8J), it was done on purpose. I know a guy who worked on themes. I'll ask him when I see him next time - he's not in this office anymore, so it might take some time.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Confus 7/19/12 1:50 PM
Re looking into Tea House theme: Many thanks! I understand it's not calendar and I appreciate the info and your effort.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues cheryl13 7/20/12 11:01 AM
Someone who actually listens and responds to customers?!?!?

AYE!
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 7/31/12 8:40 AM
I can see it now on my private account! So that means everybody should have it soon (my private account isn't treated differently than any other account, so I think some of you already have it too).


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues n4r4 7/31/12 12:41 PM
yay! custom colours appeared :) finally
thank you
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Sisyphus 7/31/12 12:42 PM
Jeff

I see it too (in UK).  It makes SUCH a difference being able to choose a custom colour with black or white text. 
I would like to publicly thank you very much indeed for sticking with this and for keeping us informed along the way.
Great effort!


Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues colinc 7/31/12 12:52 PM
And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy


I would never have thought Google would listen and act, thank you so much. CC
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues What'swrongwithcolor? 7/31/12 1:00 PM
Thank you Google Calendar group for offering custom colors.  A few questions:
Is there any easier way to get to it than 2 additional mouse clicks or to set a custom color in the "presets"?

Is there any movement on making the font white (or readable) against a darker color background?  That is still a big problem, though custom colors do help.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Keleher 7/31/12 7:35 PM
With regard to the second question, it lets you choose either black or white text when you make a custom color. I have a question; is there a way to globally make a changed color for a calendar apply to all existing events in that calendar? I changed one of my calendar colors to a custom color and none of the events changed colors. I restarted Firefox and they still didn't change.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Keleher 7/31/12 8:08 PM
Sorry. They DID change. All of them! Great! the ONLY remaining complaint that I now have is that the colors on the desktop in Google Calendar are much darker than the way they display on the iPhone. If I make them as dark as I'd like on the iPhone, I won't be able to read the text on the desktop. And If I change the text to white on the desktop, I won't be able to read it on the iPhone... Any thoughts?
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Nin 8/1/12 9:51 AM
I'm a type 4.  I use different colors for different calendars.  And think there aren't enough colors.  I'd like to use some of the darker colors, but you'll have to let me change the text color to something light - either enable white or offer all colors for text, too.  I'm  no fan of the pastels, and when you changed from dark colors and white text to pastels and black text, I didn't like it.  The meaning of different shades of the same color are lost when some items are all-day and some are for a specific time. 

If I pick say green for my work calendar, and some items are all day and some at a specific time, the all day ones look better in pastel with black text, but the timed ones are hard to see in pastel text. The opposite is not good either.  A dark color looks good for the timed items in dark text, but the all day items are hard to read with black text on a dark color.  I've tried making the background color dark (G-calize), and use only the pastel shades, but a totally dark calendar feels too "busy".

thanks.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Nin 8/1/12 10:36 AM
 I've just found out about custom colors and that pretty much solves my light/dark dilemma.  I can use all dark colors with white text so that the all-day items are dark blocks with white text, and the timed items print in dark text on my white (uncolored) calendar background.
Sorry I didn't see that sooner.
Thanks, 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues fastoy3 8/1/12 1:48 PM
I'm not sure that thanks are in order for putting something back pretty much like it was. We never were offered ANY explanation as to WHY.

While I appreciate Jeff Vader interacting with us he wasn't (perhaps COULDN'T be) forthcoming on what instigated this change and when it was going to be remedied.

This change was a serious impact to many users and a real annoyance to others for no apparent reason.

There are still so many worthwhile outstanding requests for improvements that haven't been addressed due to the efforts on this situation.

Google, don't do this again.
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Nin 8/1/12 5:02 PM
I agree with you, fastoy.  This does enable me to put it back the way it was before the pastels and black text were forced on us, but I'm still happy that I can now do that. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 8/2/12 3:12 AM
I just wanted to thank all the people here that contributed to improve our understanding of why people didn't like the new colors. We learned quite a few things.

Also this feature was entirely made possible by the people in this forum and people who used the feedback link. Thanks to your vocal complaints over a period of time, the color issue popped up on several radars, making sure the team understood, that it's not just Jeff Vader who passionately wanted other colors.

Personally I've been very happy with this feature (I've been using it for a bit longer than you all). I know not everybody will be 100 % happy, but I really hope this will make life better for most of you. 
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 8/2/12 4:44 AM

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012 10:48:02 PM UTC+2, fastoy wrote:
I'm not sure that thanks are in order for putting something back pretty much like it was.

Personally, I think it's much better then what it used to be before the change (in regard to calendar colors). 
 
We never were offered ANY explanation as to WHY.
While I appreciate Jeff Vader interacting with us he wasn't (perhaps COULDN'T be) forthcoming on what instigated this change and when it was going to be remedied.

I was about to find some links to posts I wrote, explaining why things happened. But then it dawned on me, that this would be for nothing, because obviously I didn't communicate it well enough (at least to one person). I'm sorry you feel this way, I was trying to be as clear as my limited communication skills allow me. Wish I could have done a better job.

This change was a serious impact to many users and a real annoyance to others for no apparent reason.

There are still so many worthwhile outstanding requests for improvements that haven't been addressed due to the efforts on this situation.

Google, don't do this again.

We're aware of it (now). As always, I won't make promises for the future. Google is big. Change is constant. And the future is... well... hard to predict ;-)
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Curryanne7 9/5/12 7:58 PM
I am not sure I exactly fit your color system.  I don't like the Color behind the text.  I used to change the color of the text.  and what I would like is to have some events stand out by color of the text.  But the color behind the text takes up room and makes it hard to see what the event is.  I used to have the text as I said have a color and then be able to put a box of color to indicate what the event is (or use Icons.)  When I use color now the old ones which don't end up with a block of text either because it was created elsewhere and imported to this calender...the color makes them fade away almost.  I tried to do a screenshot  I don't know if this will work, but I attached a calendar.. This was after I tried to lighten the behind the text to make the text dark.  But it is all too light.  When it was darker for the text now I can't read what is in the boxes.  How can I get rid of the box color??
Re: Colors - Summary of the color issues Jeff Vader 9/14/12 8:11 AM
Based on your and cheryl13s vote, I'll apply to be promoted to CEO. You might think that 2 votes will not get me very far, but it's more than 95 % of all Googlers have. So I consider myself in the running. It still may be difficult to displace Larry though :-)
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