Scheduling time to meet with someone is one of those things that’s just hard enough to be annoying, but probably not complex enough to need a whole new tool to simplify it. It’s one of those problems that makes for a perfect example of how-to, or how-not-to, create a great product.
Often in the product world we find a problem we want to solve and end up creating a far more complex system to solve it; one in which the user has to change usage patterns or require ramp up time. As a result, minor problems and annoyances (like scheduling meetings) don’t get dramatic improvements because the cost v. benefit v. ramp-up never quite get to a point in which the user is willing to change their habits to gain the benefits from a new tool. “I’ll just send an email” or “I’ll just use a spreadsheet” can kill the potential for “robust” products. And rightly so, email and spreadsheets are comfortable, versatile and already understood between groups.
That’s why I have been bullish on extensions, especially the Google Chrome ones.
The good ones are able to find a balance between:
- A lack of ramp-up time.
- An integration into the tools and workflows I already use.
- No requirement for other parties to have the platform in order to use it.
An example of a great extension I was introduced to recently is Assistant.to. Assistant.to is a Chrome extension that links to your Google Calendar and extends your Google Email composer so you can easily drop-in potential appointment/meeting times as text and links in your email. There was no setup, all the interaction happens within the GMail composer, and the form factor works in a way that needs no additional explanation or signups for the receiver.
It is a must have tool for sure! Here are some screenshots of the workflow: