Emailing back and forth to set up meeting times is so 2000-late. In UX research, where scheduling research sessions with participants is a big part of the job (if you don’t outsource it), it’s a soul-sucking exercise in futility akin to that of Sisyphus. Also, if you don’t do it right, you can lose participants and that’s the last thing anyone needs.
Calendly (calendly.com) is the solution (actually this one is a bit of a cheat for the theme of this article; I’ve been using it for at least a year). It integrates with my Google calendar, so that by clicking a simple link, research participants can quickly and easily see my free spots, figure out what syncs best with their schedule and grab a time to participate in usability research or interviews. The appointments magically go into my calendar. No back and forth. And if someone needs to reschedule, it’s not a huge drag, or a feeling of having to re-do work that was already done -- there’s a link for that, too.
Calendly will also send my research participants a standard reminder 24 hours before their session.
Cost of Calendly for a year: $96. Never forgetting to prepare my participants again: Priceless
3. Typing less...way less
Have I mentioned that I spend a lot of time doing the same thing over and over? I type certain phrases, cut and paste certain links, visit certain locations on the web (or even in my own Google Drive) or share certain information on a daily or multiple times a day basis. Like my calendly link, for example (see above).
Typing all those words was getting to be a bit of a drag, but now I avoid all that through a handy little application called TextExpander (textexpander.com) that allows me to assign shortcut text for the things I type most often.
Rather than typing or cutting and pasting my personal Zoom meeting link with all its annoying slashes and numbers, now I just have to type “zoomlink” and it magically appears. This is especially handy for avoiding those last minute panics when you realize you forgot to send someone the meeting link. Presto! I’ve even used it to create shortcuts for entire phrases that I type most often, for example in emails. TextExpander even alerts me when it notices I’m typing the same stuff over and over...just in case I want to create a snippet.
Cost of TextExpander: Um...free, I think. I guess I’m on a freemium plan for now.
4. Talking more...way more
As voice has taken over my interactions with my iPhone, I’ve realized how much faster it is to just SAY what you want in an email. The Email Dictation plug-in for Chrome is supposed to let you do just this, from the comfort of your desktop. Kind of. In practice, I’ve found it’s a little buggy and not quite ready for primetime. I’m still waiting for the perfect solution to this. Anybody? Bueller?