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When planning for a calendar on your website, there are a number of factors to take into account. Each of the bullets below contains examples of calendar projects with which Beacon Technologies has had direct involvement in analysis and design and/or development and integration.
- Mobile-friendliness– Check your website analytics to determine the frequency in which your mobile visitors use the existing calendar or events listing on the site. In most cases, it is one of the most frequently used areas of the site for mobile visitors, other than “Maps & Directions,” so you’ll need to take special care to make sure it is usable on multiple mobile devices and screen sizes. Even if you can’t invest in a complete responsive design at this time, be sure to plan for the calendar to be usable on mobile devices. For example, Beacon customized Hannon Hill’s base calendar to be responsive and display events in the most appropriate layout for the screen size being used by the visitor for University of the Virgin Island’s calendar.
- Room scheduling– Consider if your web-based calendar should also integrate closely with a room scheduling or other back-office system. If so, it is much easier to plan for that integration at the outset of the project rather than afterwards. Beacon assisted the University of Hartford, for example, with an integration with CollegeNet’s scheduling software as well as Framingham State University’s integration with Active Data Calendar.
- Ability to submit events– Will your website visitors be able to submit their own events for display on the website calendar (perhaps after moderation and review)? If so, be sure to evaluate whether the selected calendar software can accommodate such functionality. As reference, the University of the Virgin Islands’ “Submit Event” form offers this functionality by automatically creating a Cascade asset/page for review and approval by an administrator, when the form is submitted by the public visitor.
- Categories and filtering– Many website calendars, particularly for schools/colleges/universities and large companies that have many events per month, need to provide the end user with a way to display just the categories that they are interested in, as well to filter for a particular audience (students, faculty, customers, etc.). The University of the Virgin Islands calendar allows the visitor to filter by category and audience, as well as to display a printable PDF format.
- Calendar display/layout– Traditionally calendars are displayed in a month “grid” view like the one at the University of the Virgin Islands, but that’s not always the most appropriate layout for the number or types of events. Smaller companies and schools with fewer events per month may prefer a “list” layout like Lees McRae College or Winston-Salem State, where more events can be listed on one screen without using the grid format.
- Search-ability– Be sure to consider whether the calendar will be searchable via traditional search engines as you will most likely want the public to be able to search Google, Bing, etc. to find your events. Search engine robots are often unable to scan dynamic or very long URLs, so calendars that use physical pages (like the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s calendar) versus database query strings are often more “search engine friendly”.
Do you have a particularly great website calendar to share? Did you have any special challenges in creating a web-based calendar? Please share your experiences below!