Using Google Calendars on your website
Having created a CMS (Content Management System) and integreated Google maps for a Gold Coast Accommodation Map and booking system, the introduction of Google calendars (BETA) was a much anticipated event.
Calendars are one of the most difficult items to program, so any system that standardises this and is freely available is worth researching.
What follows are a few ideas and research of the possibilities of how you could utilise Google Calendars to enhance your business via your website.
Co-ordinating your Google Calendar Website Desktop and Client Base
Anyone with recurring events or invoice reminders could benefit from this new solution. It is very exciting because -:
- Desktop calendar is easy to use
- Co-ordinates with your Google Calendar (fee SMS notifications)
- Can be co-ordinated with an onlne invoicing system that creates live pdf invoices
- Can be included as part of your existing website (only one web hosting fee) no additional monthly fees
- Can allow managing of appointments from your website and reduce work for receptionist or other staff
- Calendars are networked live for multiple people with password protection
"anyone can get a Google account and start thier own celendar free"
Steps in starting with Google Calendars
The basic steps to get started are:-
Sign Up to a Google account
Create a calendar
Add events and publish the calendar
Combining Google calendars with your website
You can access your own calendars and those of other Google users. They can provide an access code that allows you to get certain details without other access.
Access to your calendars is available via an API that allows a programmer (i.e. me) to send info to and from specific calendars. These are sent via xml and enterpreted by various languages including Java (my programming language of choice).
Access your desktop calendar for example you can set up any calendar that follows standard formats accepted by Google Calendars.
An example of this is using combining Microsoft Outlook and your Google Calendar.
One product that is useful and can co-ordinate between Google Calendars is Mozilla Sunbird, which can work from calendars on a server or your desktop.
"free SMS notifications via Google Calendars"
Why customise Google Calendars
Using a web developer (i.e. me) you can utilise the power of Google calendars and apply them to your existing client databases on your website.
You may run a Yoga school and want to be able to manage your classes and book private appointments in unused time. This is exactly what we are building in our Gold Coast Health and Fitness website.
This system would allow-:
- Clients to be Notified of appointments
- Clients able to view appointments online customised to our style
- Notification to you using both email, pop-up and free SMS (SMS limited to certain providers)
- Daily agenda can be sent by SMS free
- Available on mobile devices
- Can also be managed via a desktop application (Microsft Outlook, Mozilla Sunbird)
- Share your calendar with others where they can see if you are free
- Filter appointments to ensure clients are booking appropriately
- Ensure the colour scheme of the calendar matches your site
Australian Supported Mobile Providers for Google Calendars
- Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Limited
- Singtel Optus Limited
- Telstra Corporation Limited
- Vodafone Pacific Limited
"a plumber could get verificaton of his next appointment
whilst his head is under a sink
all automated via his website and Google Calendars"
Filtering your clients automatically via your website
Consider a system that finds customers for you (search engine optimisation) then filters them to see if they can fit into your schedule, books them and notifies you via a free SMS all without you lifting a finger.
Done well this is almost like a super efficient recentionist/sales person that works for free.
Google Maps from your appointments
Appointments can be setup with a link to a Google Map. Combining Google Maps with websites is also available.
At the Marine Discovery Centre virtual tour we combined a Google Map with our CMS and Flash to give a nice tour of the coastline.
An example of a publicly available Google Calendar
I hope this article is useful, if nothing else you may be aware of the possibilities of co-ordinating your Google Calendars with your desktop, website and business.
If you are interested in discussing the possibilities call Phil on 07 55320651 as with me the idea of free SMS notifications could be very useful.
Phil Hoile - GoldCoastLogin.com.au programmer
Griffith University Lecturer in industry courses
- e Business & advanced e Business