02

Outlook Calendar

Refining time management for millions

About

In 2017, I transitioned into the Outlook Web Team at a very pivotal and transformational point for the product. We were unifying our codebases and transforming our entire web stack into a React app. This required a full redesign of Outlook as a whole, creating many opportunities to innovate and try out new things. Highlighted here are some of the projects I had the chance to work on over the years, impacting millions of users worldwide.

ROLES

Product Design
Product Strategy
Prototyping

Year

2017 - present

Meeting form

I lead the redesign of the Outlook meeting form from the ground up, greatly simplifying the experience and resulting in a reduction in the time it took for users to complete the form.

GOALS FOR THE REDESIGN

Simplicity

Reduce the number of controls we expose on the surface without disrupting users’ current scheduling flows

Consistency

Introduce a scalable UX framework that logically organizes our current feature set and is easily extensible

Adaptiveness

One form that can adapt to both enterprise and consumer scenarios without significant differences

Research & Data

Quantitative Experimentation

We dug into usage data to understand and determine which fields on the form are being used the most. This helped us prioritize which fields to show and where to position them.

Hearing from our users directly

A multi-month, multi-disciplinary user study called the Hawthorne study highlighted our users’ pain points with the old meeting scheduling experience. This research study involved physical and remote customer focus groups to hear directly from our users.

Before

Users described the old version of the form as overwhelming and complex. Almost all controls were exposed at all times, even the ones that were rarely used, resulting in longer times to create

After

After several iterations and rounds of user testing, we created a much cleaner, much simpler form that logically grouped related actions together and condensed the amount of information being shown to the user at any given time

Empty form

The challenge was to simplify this form that previously had more than 20 different controls and workflows into something modern, clean, and easy to parse

Partially filled

Once the meeting organizer begins to add details and attendees, we light up the scheduling grid. We leverage what we know about the attendees’ schedules to shade available and unavailable times, allowing the organizer to pick a suitable time for the meeting at a glance.

Scheduling assistant

The scheduling assistant is typically used to book larger meetings. We switched from a vertical to a horizontal alignment that allowed us to optimize the use of screen space and allow users to schedule with several more people, quickly and at a glance.

Impact

140 Million

Monthly active users

30%

Reduction in time to create

1 Million

Events created per day

My Day

The My Day pane combines your events and tasks in a single place, which can be accessed from Outlook or any other app in the M365 ecosystem. My Day allows users to stay on top of their schedules without switching context all the time.

Calendar tab

Access your Calendar events for the day, see at a glance what you have coming up next. Capture new events to your Calendar with the Quick add form

Up Next

We visually highlight and continuously update the next upcoming meeting so that the user can tell at a glance what they should be paying attention to

Add New Event

A familiar, simplified form for appointments and smaller meetings. You can quickly capture things as they pop up from wherever you are

Tasks tab

See your task for the day, capture new tasks, set due dates and more

Drag and Drop

Drag and drop emails, documents etc. into the My Day pane to create an event or task

Impact

1.5 Million

User per day (Avg)

2.3 Million

Sessions per day (Avg)

Location features

I designed a few location features to help our users see details about locations they are interested in without having to switch context and also help them find and book rooms faster

Location Cards

The location card provides details about recognized internal or external location entities within the Outlook ecosystem. Users can also perform quick actions like call or get directions.

Room finder

Room finder provides an immersive view to find, sort, and intelligently filter rooms based on a user’s search parameters. This is especially useful for some of our multi-national clients with several geographically dispersed offices.

Reflections and Outcomes

1) Designing features for millions of users is especially challenging because it requires an intense rigor in understanding the wide range of users and how differently they use our products and the features we design.We navigated this challenge by involving our users in every step of the design process to ensure that we were delivering solutions that scale to meet their needs.

2) For Outlook, there’s always a constant tug of war between needing to simplify an experience and wanting to provide users with the most efficient way to accomplish their tasks. For an application that is historically known to be heavy, complicated, and geared towards the power user, I realized that our users have a massive appetite for change and simplification. They want our experiences to be fast and best in class. When designing products at this scale, change is good and welcome, only when done thoughtfully and with the user in mind.

NEXT PROJECT

03

Agenda

A fresh take on personal productivity