My client’s office in San Francisco has a corner called the UX area. Here’s what happens as I type “UX area” in Google Calendar as the location for a meeting:

What are the chances any of those are what I mean?

Autosuggest, which is such a great help for searching the web, is a worse-than-useless distraction in a calendar app. Why? Probability.

Searching the web is likely to be an expansive activity: You often don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, so you will probably welcome a discovery from the far-flung universe of possibilities.

But creating an entry in your calendar is the opposite. It’s a narrow, personal, intimate activity. You know precisely what you mean and want. A calendar entry reflects the comparatively small circle of people and topics and places you personally deal with.

So your act of creating an entry in your calendar is highly unlikely to be helped by intrusions from the far-flung universe of possibilities. And even when Google Calendar autosuggests something theoretically useful like people from my contacts list or history, that only slows me down. I can finish typing “Mike Starbucks” much faster – even with my thumbs – than I can redirect my attention to an autosuggestion list that changes with every character I type, scan and scroll through the many misses to find a hit (if any), and then tap/click that listing.

And don’t even get me started about the times Google Calendar defaults to a prepopulated date in the past…

Had Google thought more about probability than about throwing in their existing technology just because they could, they would have left autosuggest out, making Google Calendar actually more efficient to use.

Keep these coming. Send them to us via Twitter or Facebook using the hastag #wtfUX or email them to: wtfux@uxmag.com with "#wtfUX" in the subject line. Include as much context as you can, so we get a full understanding of what the f%*k went wrong.

Image of man with phone courtesy of Shutterstock.

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As a guy who grew up 10minutes away from Block UX Mabopane South Arica, I hear your point but however the far-flung universe consists of normal user's, as ux principle’s would say, consider every user as computer illiterate and make their life easier. Individuals like yourself and I who see functionality beyond its borders well... we fall under a smaller demographic of what I would consider personal preference experienced user's

Don't be offended or get defensive. I just have a differing opinion. Instructing me to calm down implies that I'm all sorts of worked up. Don't worry I'm not. But thanks for the recommendation.

I was going to go point by point again in a long drawn out fashion. But I can tell that would be pointless and just fall on deaf ears.

I agree differing views are healthy. I just think when someone in this industry writes an article disagreeing with or critiquing a piece of software, they should also give solutions based on empirical data not just a dose of their healthy opinion. If a critique happens to just be solely based off of opinion, I know they can happen, offer up a good solution. People tend to benefit from this. It brings about new healthy viewpoints and ideas.

In the grand scheme of things, this supposed egregious design decision and your opinion on the matter really isn't as big of a deal as you and I are making it. I guess everyone needs to vent about something somewhere.

Cheers.

"My client’s office in San Francisco has a corner called the UX area. Here’s what happens as I type “UX area” in Google Calendar as the location for a meeting:"What did you expect? Google is offering physical locations that it would typically show in maps and search results. If none of them match, place your location in there and hit done. End of transaction. Why is this so infuriating?

"So your act of creating an entry in your calendar is highly unlikely to be helped by intrusions from the far-flung universe of possibilities. And even when Google Calendar autosuggests something theoretically useful like people from my contacts list or history, that only slows me down. I can finish typing “Mike Starbucks” much faster – even with my thumbs – than I can redirect my attention to an autosuggestion list that changes with every character I type, scan and scroll through the many misses to find a hit (if any), and then tap/click that listing."You may type Mike Starbucks, but no one is forcing you to accept the suggestions they are offering. If you know you don't need their suggestions, hit done. Can you complete your task without selection a suggested location? Yes.

I find your Mike Starbucks example a little odd. How is offering up physical address not helpful? Especially for stores and restaurants. What Starbucks are you going to? What if there are 9-10 Starbucks within 5 miles (Manhattan). Mike Starbucks surely hits the mark! I know exactly what Starbucks you are meeting Mike at. What if you actually selected the location you needed to go to? There are benefits in doing so. Letting you know the fastest route, how to get there, and what time to leave.

"Had Google thought more about probability than about throwing in their existing technology just because they could, they would have left autosuggest out, making Google Calendar actually more efficient to use."This assumption is laughable and borderline absurd. Did you ever think that you may be an edge case and that you just happen to not leverage this feature? If you don’t need it, don’t use it! It isn’t required for you to finish your task. To assume that they made this product decision without considering the end user, use cases, and existing data is nonsensical.

Enough is enough. As an industry, we need to end these types of frivolous articles. We need articles with real substance. Outlandish opinion articles like this are why I stopped reading most of the content on UXMag.

 

Calm down. Take a breath. Differing views are healthy for the field.

 

 

 

Of course that extra functionality might be useful sometimes. The question is how often.

 

 

 

Take a look at your own calendar: How many entries are there for this week? Of those, how many need an exact street address, directions, and estimated travel time? Unless you visit lots of unfamiliar places for a living, I suspect it's a small percentage of your entries.

 

 

 

Yet Google Calendar’s autosuggest is in your face every time. Of course you can reject its suggestions. But a blinking autosuggest list, like a blinking ad, takes effort to ignore. That's why I called it a distraction.  A feature that might be helpful only a fraction of the time should appear only on request, not intrude every time. I don’t consider that an idle opinion, but sound UX practice.

 

 

 

As for the Starbucks example, the point is that I know what I mean and Google Calendar does not. So it rarely guesses right.  I work in downtown San Francisco, which has as dense a concentration of Starbucks as anywhere. But when making a calendar entry, I know which one I mean. Whenever there's a risk of forgetting which, I can quickly add a word or two to specify.

 

 

 

But when I type "Starbucks" as the location in Google Calendar, its autosuggest list changes (blinks) 4 times as I type and ends up suggesting an apparently random 5 Starbucks -- out of the dozens in San Francisco  -- not including the one across the street from my office where I'm making the calendar entry. 

 

Don't be offended or get defensive. I just have a differing opinion. Instructing me to calm down implies that I'm all sorts of worked up. Don't worry I'm not. But thanks for the recommendation.

I was going to go point by point again in a long drawn out fashion. But I can tell that would be pointless and just fall on deaf ears.

I agree differing views are healthy. I just think when someone in this industry writes an article disagreeing with or critiquing a piece of software, they should also give solutions based on empirical data not just a dose of their healthy opinion. If a critique happens to just be solely based off of opinion, I know they can happen, offer up a good solution. People tend to benefit from this. It brings about new healthy viewpoints and ideas.

In the grand scheme of things, this supposed egregious design decision and your opinion on the matter really isn't as big of a deal as you and I are making it. I guess everyone needs to vent about something somewhere.

Cheers.

Interesting and odd. This auto fill is the one feature that keeps me on android. 

I would suggest you consider the broad use case that occurs when you use Google calendar across the googleshpere and not just in calendars. Take for example the below scenario.

I plan to meet my friend after work on Wednesday at Plan Check. I start making the appointment and type in Plan Check, and Google suggests two Plan Checks, the one in downtown LA and the one in sawtele. Well I know I am going to sawtele so I tap on that one. Then on Wednesday as I am chatting with coworkers near the end of the day Google now notifies me that there is heavy traffic on the 405, and if I want to get to my appointment at Plan Check I need to leave now. So I pack up and head out. As I am walking to my car I tap the Google now card which links to Google navi so I can check the actual traffic situation. I can easily see that if I take an alternative route it will be faster so I select that one. I then get into my car, start it up, and plug my phone in to USB. Instantly Android Auto starts up and my previously selected route is the top tile on my main Android Auto page. Tapping the tile I can start navigation and be on my way.

It is by far an easier task flow then having to search an address, check times regularly, and eventually re-search an address on a brand new outdated car navigation system.