Our commitment to carbon removal
Recently, we announced paid plans for professional use, but we did something else too: we have committed to contribute 5% of all subscriptions to the removal of carbon atmosphere. As an ambitious company we believe it's our responsibility to help fund carbon removal. Even if our contributions start small, they'll grow as we grow. Our paid plans start at $8 per month, meaning that the average user will contribute ~$5 per year. It may not look of much, but multiply that by the number of paid users – and numbers start to add up: 1,000 users = $5,000 contributed; 10K = $50K, 100K = $0.5M. That's a lot of money! The project is organized by Stripe, our payment provider, who handles all payments and automatically direct 5% of all payments to the Stripe Climate program. Thus, we ensure that to live up to our commitment, while making it crystal clear, how much you are contributing with each payment. 'Historical emissions via Stripe Climate' We can only recommend diving deeper into the works of Stripe Climate, but the short story is, that they work with top scientific experts to invest in the most promising carbon removal technologies: > Existing carbon removal solutions such as reforestation and soil carbon sequestration are important, but they alone are unlikely to scale to the size of the problem. New carbon removal technologies need to be developed—ones that have the potential to be high volume and low cost by 2050—even if they aren’t yet mature. Since we just launched payments there is little to report on our contributions, but we'll make sure to keep you updated on progress. Finally, a massive recognition to Stripe for driving the efforts and making it so easy for businesses to take responsibility 🙏 Sign up to Venncal today and upgrade to a paid plan here.
Rethinking calendar design
At Venncal we set out to rethink the design of calendars to fit the purpose of adding plans to our calendars. This post outlines some of the design principles behind Venncal. Think of calendar. Think of how years, months, weeks, days, hour and minutes are organised. That's how we all know a calendar. It has come to be a fantastic way for our brains to think and structure our plans in time. More accurately, it's a fantastic way to read our own plans. In part, it works well, because we know all the events in our own calendar, making the calendar a simple structure to recollect plans from our memory. However, when making new plans the calendar becomes a mess – especially when coordination with other people's calendars. We either start ping-ponging gaps from our calendars or try to stack guests' calendars on top of each other in an overwhelming scrabble through plans that we have little knowledge about. Joining calendars into one unified view When planning with others, wether it's a workshop or a party, it no longer important what each individual has planned. What's important is when each individual doesn't have anything planned. Looking for gaps the easiest way to identify a time that works for all guests is joining all calendars into one unified view. Visually it's like stacking each calendar on top of each other and then go looking for gaps. The traditional calendar design is poorly equipped to join many calendars, because it desperately try to provide the reader with all the information of all the events. However, since the focus here is not the events, but the gaps, there is no reason not just to consider a given period busy or free, collectively for the whole group. Sure, it can make sense to know the context of the surrounding plans (before and after), but the prerequisite is finding a mutual gap — a time that works for all guests. Inverting the view, highlighting gaps Traditionally the calendar highlights the events in our calendar, those are the coloured items on our blank canvas. It serves the purpose of reading a calendar well, since the event and event details are what we're looking for. When looking for our available times, the same view is not far from a deliberative obstacle course for your intended action. It's such a counterintuitive user interface. Many solutions different apps have tried different ways to solve this, yet few has done it well. The solution is simple, really. Just inverting the colors would switch the attention-grabbing elements to align with the intended action. Lovely! The most important design decision here is that we're keeping the calendar layout – the structure that we've tought our minds – that allows us to easily to read, scan and think of plans through time. Most events looks the same, why start over every time? Every time we create something in our calendars we have to consider quite a lot of details: the date, duration, time, location, title, calendar, guests, and more... The result: a ton of input fields to complete every time we want to add something to our calendar. But more often than not, the things we put in our calendars look a lot a like something we've added before. So why start from scratch every time? Obviously we need the flexibility to customize an event to its every detail, but there no reason why creating yet another 30 min. zoom call isn't a few clicks away. What can we predefine? The duration, location, title, and calendar. What's left? The date, time and guests. Should be four clicks away, tops. Further, when creating a new event to our calendar we fill out information in the order we read them, but often that's not the same that we think about them. For example, it feels intuitive (to the developer!) that the event title is the first thing to complete. But who really ever considered the vent title before the date and time of the event? Venncal is striving to design a creation flow that works the way you do. Once we realize this, it becomes apparent that even in our own calendars, we're better off removing the noise of appointments and reducing the overhead of starting from scratch every time. This is what we're building at Venncal. The best possible scheduling flow, no matter who and how many your guests are. Sign up here
Calendly vs. Venncal
We've all had someone send us their Calendly link to book a slot in their calendar and though efficient for many situations, it can feel impersonal to the person on the end. So, how did we improve on that experience? Sharing is half way there – receiving is the other half Wether using Calendly or Venncal, sharing linkes are defined with a set of scheduling criteria in a template (Calendly calls them Event Types), like the duration, within which time and date range, etc. These criteria are used to lookup availability from integrated calendars and present it to the recipient to choose from, which Venncal present in a much improved view that resembling the calendar week-view. 'Calendly and Venncal booking link UI side by side' We do this to accommodate people in prioritising a timeslot over a specific day and provide a better overview of the available times. This too gives non-users an easier way to compare with their own calendar in another tab. If the receiving user, too, has integrated their calendar with Venncal, we'll automatically find the users' mutual availability, giving full confidence that the selected time works for everyone. Calendly use a small green dot on the options to indicate which times work for both parties. When sharing a link doesn't feel quite right The problem with these booking-links is that they can feel impersonal, and to be honest, they are. However effective it may be, it sends a signal of disengagement, which as an antisocial pattern and feels rude, though it's rarely the intention. How is it different from an invitation, which feels super personal? It's a matter of personalisation. Booking-links are general, one for all templates, while an invitation or a reply to an e-mail is personal. Recently Calendly added a Single-use links and Add times to calendar features, which may've been a way to address this, but there's no personalization, so what's the use? 🤷♂️ With Venncal, templates become personal links with one click, and everything from title, to location, times, and participants can be personalized. Another way is simply copy/pasting availability into an e-mail with a click of a button. Lastly, with Venncal's privacy settings it's possible to skip the entire back-n-forth, by granting individual access to checking mutual availability. That means no links, no invitations, no e-mails, just one shared calendar. Sidenote: Booking links are not all bad! They're fantastic for automating workflows, like adding a scheduling page to a website, automated e-mails etc. Most meetings involves more than two people Calendly and Venncal alike works well for scheduling 1-1 meetings. However, a lot of meetings – like workshops, dinners, etc. – include more than two people, which Calendly doesn't support. Luckily Venncal does. When scheduling something with multiple guests, Venncal works just the same. One, two, or any number of guests, Venncal finds mutual availability for all guests and merges them into one single calendar, easy to read and select from. In that sense it works a lot like Doodle, except with zero overhead of manually copy/pasting availability from a calendar in one tab and into Doodle in another.