Google Calendar redesign: It's goddamn terrible

Normally my policy is not to shit on other people's products. I know how hard it is to take unsolicited negative feedback and how easy it is for some random douche on the Internet to give it. But I feel like I have a special place in my black heart for Google Calendar, so I'm going to break that rule and just lay it out. Here are before and after screenshots of my real calendar from today for comparison.

Old and usable:

New and terrible:

Google Calendar team, did you consider how people use calendars when you redesigned your product? The new design is terrible. Here is why:

  • Search button is a big blue button in the middle of your field of vision. I search on my calendar maybe once a week (I think that is being generous). It is visually distracting and one of only two colored elements on the page. Just because you're a search company doesn't mean that search should be emphasized at all costs. Search is not part of a normal calendar user's work flow.
  • You can now see much less of the My Calendar and Other Calendars boxes. We went from being able to see 10 items to about 3. For someone with multiple calendars, it went from being a usable guide at a glance to an unusable one. This might look fine on cinema display but on my 13" Macbook Air it does not.
  • You can't tell at a glance what fucking day it is. Before it was yellow. Now it is a shade of grey that is pretty close to white. What day it is is important, because you use that info to figure out what appointments you are going to have to show up for.
  • Previously, the blue frame around the calendar draws your attention to the most important part of any calendar app: the fucking calendar. The month box calendar, search, view selectors -- they are all much less important that seeing your appointments for the day/week.
  • Lastly, this might just be because I'm used to the old colors, but I think the white-on-dark-color appointments are much easier to read than the black-on-color appointments. Maybe I'm just being a grumpy asshole here.

Over on the Gmail blog it looks like those guys are about to commit a similar atrocity. Please don't make these changes mandatory for all calendar users. When I was working on our calendar startup Kiko, you brought us in, pumped us for info, and then released your own product and rolled up our early adopters. Despite all that, I eventually came around and switched over to Google Calendar because it worked decently well with Gmail. Now, you're about to pull the trigger of a gun that is pointed at your own head.

38 responses
Well said.. happily: Settings cog -> Switch to classic theme (h/t @ericries)
I completely agree. I couldn't put my finger on why the text wasn't as legible until I read your post. The black text on colors is difficult to read when glancing over your calendar. I generally don't like the lack of borders in the entire Google redesign. It makes it difficult to focus your eyes where they need to be.
I guess it is a matter of taste. Just looking at those two screen shots, the second seems so much nicer to me. The focus is now on the events, not on all of the crap surrounding them. I love the removal of the title bar color difference on events -- now, an event is one solid color, not two. I'd much rather face a day on the second calendar than on the first.

Agreed on the big blue search button, though. Gah.

@bhudgeons I think certain changes (such as the appointment color text being black instead of white) are a matter of taste. Certain changes, such as the reduction of vertical space on your calendar labels, simply reduce usability. Why reduce usability??
I'm more annoyed by the impending release of a re-designed GMail.
Agreed! Also don't like that quick add still isnt a primary box on the page. I would say around 90% of my events are added this way, but it still takes an extra click to get there (now obscured and placed into a triangle drop down for some reason). I'd rather they let you add reminders in quick adds than these UI changes
I'm a heavy GCal and GMail user, and see these changes as vast improvements. Any time a company makes changes on this scale there is always a round of complaining just because something was changed. Technology and especially software evolve, and must do so in order to remain useful and relavent. This is an evolution and, for me at least, is an improvement.

Beyond that, if you really dislike how the new GCal feels, use another calendar app and sync the two. I use iCal as well and all of my GCal syncs seamlessly to that. I'd never have to look at or touch GCal again if I didn't want to while still using it.
This is a really childish article. Submit feedback, be constructive, and stop using foul language for the sake of it. Google's redesign may have larger implications than your nose is long, and it's fair to consider things a work in progress the day after a new design's launch.
You're very much in a minority here. The vast majority of people I've spoken feel that the changes are a huge improvement on the previous UI.
I see everything you whined about as an improvement.
I'm only with you 95%.

I agree with the tragedy of the reduced view of calendar lists and “the big blue button” – now that you've brought my attention to it, it's all I can see (so maybe that's you're fault ;) – but the rest? Nope.

The new design is clean, clean, clean. So much easier on the eyes and more deftly composed I can't thank Google enough. In fact, once I saw that they were redesigning their other services I made it a point to head over to Google Calendar in the hope that they had given it some love as well.

In fact I have to take issue with one of your comments i particular: that blue frame around the calendars in the old design? Ridiculous. Leads my eye *around* it every which way, not *into* the calendars. Incredibly visually distracting to my eye.

From an explosion-like mess of a thing to cool, calm and tranquil. Good going, Google.

@Daniel, most of this is largely a matter of opinion I suppose. After all, the calendar does the same stuff as it did before, with the exception of reduced data output and several elements that are color-emphasized incorrectly (search, and compose mail is red!? what??).

@waterlovinguy I guess we're anti-correlated. You should start shorting stocks I pick.

@smcelhinney maybe I'm in my own echochamber/bubble but it seems like a non-zero number of people agree with me in person and on the Internet.

@KyleMeyer this is my feedback. Google might have a crystal ball that let's the see longer than my average sized nose, but coming right after the Google+ launch it seems to the outside that some team in Google (who aren't users of the products) foisted design changes on Gmail and Calendar just for the sake of unification, at the cost of usability. Otherwise, why would you possible make the Compose button red, which is largely associated with errors or warnings? Why would the Search button take such prominence?

I love the new interface. The interface is smoother, easier to use. I'm twice as likely to actually use Google Calendar now. Also being able to change even colors without adding a new color is a very welcome addition.
@Justin, I agree that red for the action button is a questionable choice – maybe they did it to supply needed competition with the search button ;) – but it does catch the eye. And the word “create” could be considered a softening counterpoint to the color.

If they had pulled me into the critique I might have suggested that the entire layout be devoid of saturated color except the calendars themselves, with the labels in the calendar lists being a desaturated version of the calendar color unless hovered over. Along with the word “create” in the action button, it would place a nice emphasis on the users content over everything else.

I'm with you on the whining. I hate the softer colors; it just seems more difficult on my eyes. I am sure that I will be forced to get used to it, or switch to something else (won't happen probably). I understand the giant blue button since their "thing" is supposed to be search, but I truthfully wish it were smaller or less blue. Really would rather the main calendar window was bordered in blue.

The Gmail interface seems far, far worse to me than the calendar. I turned on the preview beta yesterday just to check it out. Blech....

Google Caledar never felt elegant or flexible enough, whereas iCal was too rigid. Hence why I use Week Calendar on my iPhone. iCal/gCal-ish usable interface, weekly/3,3,4,5,6-day views for the ADD or OCD brain, more customization options than you can shake a jailbreak at, syncs with the iCal app automatically, $1.99 kissable price tag. Only drawback is you can't tap and drag to lengthen or shorten event blocks, just move them. Otherwise it's perfect for my needs.

And no, I don't work for them. I just love their product. :)

Google calendar's design seems like an afterthought when compared with Gmail. These poll results seem to be saying the same thing:

Google Calendear:'s-updated-look...?tag=59696

I hope the commenters are going into the product and not basing their comments only on screenshots....

As someone who uses Google Calendar A LOT (with multiple calendars) the loss of the quick ability to see which calendars are selected and to select/deselect is a big deal. Before the whole line for the calendar would be highlighted, now only a tiny speck shows that it is activated. Have to scroll though to turn them on/off is not an improvement to the previous approach.

I also can't stand the loss of the header space, and I am completely confused as to why there is 1/3" of blank space over on the left.

for the time being there's a "use classic look" option, but I can't imagine they'll support two versions forever.

That's exactly why it is opt-in and not a forced migration -- so that they can collect feedback, iterate, and measure. Eventually they will force all people on this this new UI, but hopefully not before reacting to feedback like yours.

As far as knowing what day it is, might I suggest using the Agenda view. I've been using it for years and have never looked back.

I completely agree, I spend 14 hours a day with my google calendar open, and when this switched over I couldn't find anything on the screen...

If you're as familiar with the app as I am, it shouldn't feel like they completely changed the app if they did some design modifications.

The new changes have drastically slowed down my scheduling, and I'm spending the whole day squinting

Completely agree, and you missed one of the worst parts: the word "Calendar" in the top left corner, taking up some of the most important space on the screen, explaining something that really couldn't be more obvious. In fact, if you don't have a custom organization logo, it also says "Google Calendar" a second time, right above it.
completely agree with you. just subscribed to your blog - looking forward to your future posts.
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I agree with this blog post. The biggest problem: it is hard to tell what day it is. Can someone explain why it is a bad thing to call out the current day from the week or month clearly with a color that contrasts with the white background?
You are spot on, whatever your (mindless) detractors say, the Google Play reviews tell the story and back you up completely. Thank you for an honest review rather than the mindless SEO fluff blurbs about how "stunning" it is. From the bloated time and date columns to truncated event names, loss of pinch zoom, loss of individual colors for holidays by country, loss of month at a glance view, and the unbelievable fact that there is STILL no way to jump to a previous year/month or date, this update has been Google's biggest fail to date. As a regular smartphone user of Google calendar I was blown away by the ineptitude of the new layout. What a fall. What a giant hyperjump backwards. I would normally take offense at profanity but in this case? It doesn't even faze me. Google's calendar redesign for android is JUST THAT BAD. I don't know who these people are who are giving you flack. God bless your honesty. They must be blind.
The problem I have is the placement of the date on the calendar. Wouldn't be more helpful if it were in the center top of the square as opposed to the far right? And darkening the grid might help too. It takes concentration making sure you are not placing your appointment on the day before or after. Other than those issues I find the calendar an added positive for planning my appointments and reminders.
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