Low-contrast colors in Outlook.com Beta Calendar
The color scheme used by the new Outlook.com Beta Calendar - particularly on the Month view, which this feedback is referring to - is a huge step backwards in user-friendliness and accessible design.
I make extensive use of categories in my calendar, with each category using a different color. With the pre-beta Outlook.com Calendar, the calendar appointments on the Month view were displayed as a solid, high-contrast, rectangular block of bold color with the title in bold text inside the block. The colors and styling closely matched those used in the Outlook 2016 desktop client, which made it very easy to visually identify the appointments when switching between desktop and web clients, and the boldness of the colors made it easy to identify the different categories, and to see how "busy" or full the current month was looking, at a glance.
However, with the new Beta Calendar in Outlook.com, the page looks washed out, bland, dull and dreary. There's hardly any color anywhere on the page. Depending on the category used by each appointment, most appointments now just consist of very light-colored, low-contrast text with no rectangular block of color in the background at all. The text itself has some color, but again it's so light that it's nearly impossible to tell the text colors apart from each other.
Some of the appointments do have a rectangular block of color behind the text, but the block color is now super light and difficult to see, rather than nice and bold as before.
As a result, it's now very difficult to tell the categories apart from each other, especially for the appointments which no longer show a rectangular block of color behind the appointment title (which is the majority of them).
This also means the degree of contrast between text and background color is very poor, which is a big problem for those of us suffering from visual impairments, such as cataracts, which directly hinder the ability to read low-contrast text. As a result, the new calendar fails badly in the area of Accessible Design. It should be noted that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 states that text should have a contrast ratio at least 4.5:1. The new Beta Calendar utterly and completely fails this requirement, and therefore shows a total disregard for Microsoft's visually-impaired users - including paying customers who have purchased Office 365.
Microsoft's web designers would do well to read and learn from this article on the importance of good contrast for web text:
At the very least, Microsoft should allow the user to choose the color scheme used by the calendar appointments, by offering a choice between the old, bold color scheme - as used by Outlook 2016 on the desktop - and the newer, washed-out, low-contrast scheme used by the current beta. Then customers can decide for themseleves which they prefer.
I should also point out that the calendar month widget shown in the left-hand sidebar of the calendar page has also lost the background coloring that previously was shown to highlight the days of the current month. Now, the widget uses the same background coloring for all the days in the widget, including the last few days of the previous month and the first few days of the next month, which is not helpful.
Thank you for your feedback! The deployment for an option to switch to more saturated calendar colors in the new Outlook is now complete.
If you would like to try out this experience, please click on the gear icon in the top right of your calendar module to access your settings, and toggle “Bold event colors”.
Totally agree with loss of colour blocks being a retrograde step 9though I preferred the pastel hues in the old calendar to the child-like bright colours in the beta calendar)
I agree also! Color blocks are very useful for distinguishing each category at a glance. Please offer the option to return to the old color scheme in both Outlook.com and, while you're at it, the Windows Calendar app. Haven't examined many other new features but like the vertical scroll very much. Please keep on improving the Calendar. Who knows, I may adopt the new (beta) version some day.
I agree - I'm glad to see that the categories have colors like the old calendar. But, the color needs to be more prominent, more contrast. I have to struggle to see the category color. It needs to be easy to see at a glance.
I agree! I color coordinate each family member's activity and color code things as "work", "vacation". With the new drab colors, they don't stand out enough to easily look and see which kid has what going on that day.