Sorry, if you’ve come here for dating tips, they’re on my other blog. Today, we’re focusing on events and their relevance to time and date.
When it comes to events based websites, time and date can be tricky to perfect. People’s lives are often busy, which means finding the time to do something difficult, this means planning to book an event is difficult before you even begin to narrow your search online.
First things first, people are busy. Before we consider anything, it’s important to remember users decisions are impacted by many factors in their own lives before visiting your website. With those who work weekends vs those who work weekdays, those who prefer being up early, vs those who are night owls, some people are willing to wait, whereas others may be last minute.
You might not be able to improve your customers' busy schedules, but perhaps you can help show them where you fit in.
Time in context
To do this, you need to focus on what factors might affect users choices in booking an event. This is by no means a comprehensive list - but are some of the common themes we see running on a day to day basis.
First of all, consider if date and time are the main drivers for your users.
With events based websites, it’s easy to focus on time and date as a tool. However, you should consider whether date and time is the most important factor in a users choice to begin with.
That said, often other factors in tandem with dates can be a really powerful feature for users.
- Price - When are the cheapest prices?
- Availability - When can you find a time with room for 8 people?
- Quality - When to go for the best experience, if an event is outdoors, might be summer.
- Busy - When are the busiest times? People may prefer a busier/quieter atmosphere.
Consider whether these factors are primary drivers for people planning to book, consider having them available as additional filters and tags.
Consider how immediate are your users' needs, is it right now, days or months in advance, or even next year?
Starting from this exact moment.
Example of this might be an urgent/last minute appointment or booking such as a doctors appointment. In this instance, it might make sense to show the next available slots upfront in the upcoming days or even hours.
In the future
Starting with a larger scale of time and letting people drill down.
On the other end of the scale, what if you’re planning a long holiday. Usually planning for these starts months or even years in advance. In this instance, it might make sense to start broad, in months/years. Even look at seasons, winter vs summer.
If your business attracts a lot of tourists, people often research venues/attractions in advance. Make sure you’re priming them with what’s on for before they arrive. Consider interactive calendars to help show the variety and quality of your offerings not just now but in the time to come.
People who have a day or two, or even a week, free may be looking to “fill the time”. An example of this may be a museum, where users look to plan a visit for the whole day.
How long are people spending at your venue?
If we know how long users typically spend at a venue, we can help format the events/content in a relevant way. Thinking of the museum example, perhaps a day by day or even a week schedule is useful. “What’s on today”.
Are people attending a series of events?
Consider how these look in a calendar, it is obvious they’re connected?
Consider how best to visualise? Timeline of events?
Multiple people/Aligning schedules
If trying to plan one’s own schedule isn’t difficult enough, what happens when you are planning for other people as well?
If people often bring friends to your events, consider how they might share this information with friends.
Don’t have time to implement some of the bigger changes? There are always little things you can do to help your users too.
Right time, right place.
Time and date formats are often a simple but overlooked issue, make sure they’re correct for your audience.
Consider who your audience is, if you appeal to a worldwide audience, then numerical formats for dates can be confusing.
For example, here are three common date formats:
- EU - 01/01/2018
- America - 01/01/2018
- Japan - 2018/01/01
It’s not immediately clear which numbers reference the days/month in this example.
Ways to solve this might be:
- Use the user's location to determine which time format they use in their locality.
- Use the name of the month for less ambiguity, eg. 1st Jan 2018 and Jan 1st 2018 are still both understandable, assuming your audience is English speaking.
- If you frequently receive users from across the world, consider letting them set their own date/time preferences.
What are the default values?
What's the first thing users can see, often this can impact a users decision greatly.
Consider what might work for them, is the default value:
- What’s closest available to today?
- Is it a popular time amongst your audience?
- Or could it be the last date selection they entered into your site?
Having these in mind can often inspire users and help create some familiarity.
What happens when there aren’t time slots available?
Equally, telling people when there isn’t anything available is just as important. Don’t let this be a dead end, help them find something else that meets their expectations. Show related events, explain what tweaks they can make to their filters to find something else suitable.
Hopefully, with these tweaks, you can start to make improvements to your site. Remember, there’s no time like the present. And, if you’re looking for help with your user experience and implementing these, get in touch. Keep an eye out for part 2!