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I have a product where users can schedule content to post to social networks. The users may have their account set to their local timezone, while running a campaign which requires them to schedule content for another timezone.

An example of this would be a user who is running their account from an office in New York, but running an advertising campaign targeted at an audience in Los Angeles.

Should the user be able to choose the timezone of the scheduled time when creating the scheduled post? Or should they always expect to set the scheduled time in their own timezone, compensating for the time difference themselves?

When they view a list of posts they've scheduled, which timezone should display for the scheduled time?

  • +1. I've dealt with this before while scheduling content with Buffer and Hootsuite, but never considered handling time zones from a developer perspective. – Alan Jun 3 '15 at 13:43
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    If you don't let the user customize it, always at least say what time zone it's in. – Keavon Jun 4 '15 at 6:03
  • The US and Canada switch to daylight-saving time on a different schedule than the rest of the world—thanks to George W Bush—so there are many weeks a year where a calculation error is more likely. Make it easier for users. – JeromeR Aug 19 '15 at 20:35
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Make it explicit that the scheduled campaign will run in the LA timezone to reduce any confusion. MailChimp does it quite nicely with their Delivery by Time Zone feature http://mailchimp.com/features/timewarp/

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    MailChimp is the absolute champ when it comes to UX. It's often used in examples of what to do, to follow, and never to show "yeah well mailchimp has done that awfully, dont do that". – Mave Jun 4 '15 at 6:53
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The user will be expecting it to be, by default, in their time zone. Anything other than this will cause confusion. However as @RizwanJavaid has highlighted, for some markets/projects (and I would say social media is one) it is perfectly well expected to be able to change this.

  • "The user will be expecting it to be, by default, in their time zone." There are actually 2 sets of users here: the user of the software that the OP is making, and the social media user that will receive the message. The success of the action of the first set of users depends on whether the second set of users receives their message at an appropriate time in their timezone. I do NOT want to be woken up 2 hours early because some guy in New York forgot to set his clock right. – Nzall Jun 3 '15 at 14:13
  • @NateKerkhofs maybe I'm old but do many users really have notifications that would wake them up for a messaging system that could support spam (apologies to the OP, not accusing you)? – Chris H Jun 3 '15 at 15:47
  • @ChrisH In theory, it's possible. If someone has a twitter notification for any DMs he receives, if someone DMs him about the message, and if the notification sound is loud enough. I know I've been awoken before by receiving a notification for an app in the early hours. – Nzall Jun 3 '15 at 16:08
  • @NateKerkhofs, I mean does anyone really turn those audible notifications on and not silent the phone when they sleep? (e.g. I use an app so my phone will make noise for incoming calls/texts from a very select set of people, while only blinking for IMs from the same people) – Chris H Jun 4 '15 at 9:43
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    @ChrisH Just last night, I was kept awake longer because I received an email notification. Some phones also do not yet support silent periods. I know Android didn't support priority only mode without an extra app until Lolliop. There might be apps for older systems, but not everyone knows about those. And you'd be surprised at how complacent people can become once they're used to a problem, even if they learn how to fix it. – Nzall Jun 4 '15 at 10:15
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I often find myself one time zone away on trips, and dealing with my calendar on OS X or Windows Office is a mine field. I can summarize the problem as "too many choices": The calendar programs all try to do something clever, and not only do they not do what I need but I never quite know what to expect. Configuration options only make matters worse, because the options don't correspond to what I need to control, invariably result in more complex behavior, and always leave me wondering if I could fix the problem by changing a setting. So my suggestion is: Do The Right Thing, but above all keep it predictable.

I would expect that for a localized campaign, what matters is when the content gets delivered (prime time, rush hour, whatever), i.e. local time. But some users might be more interested in when the event will happen, so they can monitor for problems. Which type of users do you have in your business? If you need to cater to both types, I would start by showing both times in the list of scheduled posts. E.g., two time columns (and maybe a way to hide columns you never care about).

If none of your users cared about time at the target market, it would be an easy call. But assuming they do, I would model the interface for scheduling the events on an appointment calendar:

  • For events whose participants are at a certain location, always choose the time zone at the event location. It doesn't matter where I am as I schedule the event, it doesn't matter what time zone my computer is set to. This would apply if your campaigns are typically limited to one market (i.e. one time zone).

  • For events that are accessible regardless of time zone (in your case: not limited to a local market), choose a reasonable point of reference and stick to it-- i.e., don't change it when your user changes location. This would be an account-wide setting.

In short, the rule would be: use local time unless there is no "local time". This does require that the event's location can be determined before the time of the event is chosen.

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In my opinion, the best thing you can do in this case is the following:

  1. The user configures the time to send the message according to HIS timezone.
  2. The program immediately shows the corresponding time in the following zones:
    • Pacific timezone;
    • Atlantic US timezone;
    • UK timezone
    • Western Europe Timezone
    • Pacific Australian timezone.
  3. Any time the user reconfigures the sending time, the other timezones are updated accordingly.

99% of social media (essentially everything outside of China) are used by users in more than one timezone. the 5 timezones above contain most social media users outside of India and China, so you can plan accordingly. The reason why you should show multiple timezones is that A) your program should be able to be used internationally, without the need for the user to configure the target audience every time; and B) A campaign that's aimed at a certain timezone might be relevant for people in another timezone, even if it's just so someone in another timezone knows not to disturb anyone in that timezone participating in an event from that campaign.

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As Golden Krishna says bes tinterface is no interface. So ask the user the localisation of the meeting and ask him the time of this meeting.

Take into account or ask him if it is local time.

Ask from where he comes and specifies him automatically the time in two formats its real localisation and the time of the localisation meeting with a table with all GMT frame.

But please don't ask him to calculate and specifies the difference.

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