Community Calendar: The Beta Release

Feb 18, 2016

Last November, we promised to release a new set of features for creating, listing, and promoting community events within Core Publisher starting this winter. Our team has been working hard, and we’re pleased to announce that the beta version is now live.

What do you mean, "beta" version?

It means we're working with a few stations to stress-test Community Calendar under diverse conditions in order to expose — and fix — potential problems before they cause meaningful trouble. We know how important events are to many stations, and we take our obligation seriously to provide a smooth experience for stations who come to the new Community Calendar from Public Events. Existing data should transfer into the new system seamlessly; event information should display correctly; and the on-boarding experience should be easy.

We’re releasing this first version to a small group of stations — starting with KUOW and WFSU, and then KPBX, KRCC, Michigan Radio, and WSKG. All have agreed to try out Community Calendar in their Core Publisher sites with real data and to share their experiences with us so we can make tweaks, if necessary. Don’t worry — these stations are keeping their existing Public Events sites alive for the time being, so their audiences won’t see any change during this beta release.

In the meantime, we’re using this opportunity to do as much as we can to prepare the way for a successful wide release later this spring. For example, based on what the beta stations tell us, we’re optimizing our training program to make on-boarding the next set of stations as easy as possible.

In addition, we’re talking with admins at these stations to get their feedback, and observing them via screen-share as they use the Community Calendar tool. This helps us discover bugs more quickly than we could on our own, and it helps us identify workflow improvements that might not otherwise occur to us. For example, after speaking with four people at KUOW and WFSU, it's become apparent that we may want to improve the way stations edit venue information.

The Current State of Community Calendar

Although Community Calendar is still in development, a large portion of key functionality works very well right now. For stations that enable the calendar feature, it’s possible to migrate existing events from Public Events into the new system, view them in order by date, and click on individual events to see details.

The images below show part of an events-listing page (left) and an event detail page (right). We designed these pages with plenty of white space and clear information hierarchy so users can easily scan for key information on large or small-screen devices.

Community Calendar is responsive, and is clear and functional on mobile phones. The events listing page is on left; an event detail page is on right right.

On both page types, the typographic treatments for title, venue, and categories are distinct, helping users home in on information that matters to them. In addition, we visually "chunk" information into logical groups to make it easy to find title, date, venue address, cost, or description. 

For administrators, we’ve created the “Manage Community Calendar” page (left) — the starting place for finding all of the tools a station needs to handle events.

Note the section called “Approve Events” — in this example screenshot, you can see there are 4 events pending approval, so you know there’s a little work to do. If there weren’t any, the message would tell you so. In addition, there are links for other events-management tasks. These should be familiar from Public Events and, according to one of our beta station admins, is "very intuitive" and "a lot more user-friendly."  

What's next?

There are plenty of other elements to show off at this point, but for now I'll leave you with a mockup that shows some of the additional features we are considering developing next. We can't promise they will necessarily come soon, but they reflect what we are thinking about as next steps. 

  • Filter/search functionality: We're exploring how to enable end-users to find events by keyword, date, and category. In the mockup below, the calendar selector widget is open so that a user can jump to all events on a particular day.
  • Category links (see the blue text, "Classical Music" or "Community Events" below): Events in the new calendar tool can be associated with up to three categories — that's as of now, not in the future — so that a music festival might belong to the categories music as well as family, and outdoor events. In the future, we'd like to let users click directly on category names to jump to a selection of related events. 
  • Underwriting messages (see the column on the right). We intend to enable Community Calendar to display the same underwriting messages that display elsewhere on a Core Publisher site. Just like in Core Publisher, it should be possible to target an ad to a specific page or event — or to prevent certain ads from displaying.

A mockup of Community Calendar that illustrates things we are working on, such as underwriting, and things we are considering how to prioritize, such as filter and search functionality.

We're looking forward to providing this tool to all Core Publisher stations that want it. For non-Core Publisher stations, we are working on providing an alternate solution for handling events — please stand by for more information.