From Composing to Servicing

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some of those highlights. What are you reading this weekend?

product_2x4

On Product Management…

http://www.proficientz.com/two-by-four-product-management.html
Take a 2×4 to your product team.

 
 

On Starting Up…

http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2013/03/19/one-of-the-biggest-mistakes-enterprise-startups-make/
Service that professional business to start.

startup-service
mi-dealangel

On Modular Innovation…

http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/18/dealangel-api/
Rest in knowing of the new complementary streams of modular innovation.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672250/how-a-tiny-new-compose-window-could-reinvent-gmail
Compose yourself with increased efficiency.

design-compose

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

The Product Guy: Superfine in 09

Snowman&Bell The Product Guy had another superfine year in 2009, sharing and exploring products, their experiences, and many innovative startups and the founders behind them, while getting to meet and speak with many of The Product Guy’s steadily growing readership.

And, as 2009 comes to a close, as I did last year, let’s take a brief look at the top posts that made this year on The Product Guy so totally superfine….

 

#9 Quick-UX Credibility from Likexo to Etsy

Quick-UX Credibility is a measure of the starting point, the foundation of a product’s Credibility. A look at the popular (and not so popular) examples of web product Credibility online.

image

#8 World’s Best Programmer is… [w/ Respect]

The World’s Best Programmer wants respect.

And, respect is just one of those conditions prevalent within the environment of the World’s Best Programmer. In this last post in the series The Product Guy reveals just who exactly is World’s Best Programmer, and where/how they thrive!!

image

#7 Converted by an Android. A short story of Gmail, in parts.

Part 1 in a series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook, what brought about this conversion, why it took so long, and what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption.

image 

#6 jQuery Plugin: It’s CuteTime!

Many online social products, and more continue to, avoid a formal timestamp format… 2009-10-10 23:14:17 and Thu, October 29, 2004 12:14:19 PM … opting for more user friendly, "warm and fuzzy," human-readable styles… 9 days ago and 5 years ago.

As a result, the time has come for the jQuery CuteTime plugin. CuteTime goes beyond similar tools and lets you easily: convert timestamps to ‘cuter’ language-styled forms (e.g. yesterday, 2 hours ago, last year, in the future!), customize the time scales and output formatting, and dynamically update the displayed CuteTime(s) upon request and/or automatically.

image 

#5 The Future: Gmail, Social Media, and You

Over the past many weeks I have explored, elaborated, and exhausted the extent of the then existent exercising of resistance. Now, with such resistance eroded, drawn out through my conversion by an Android, an exploration into the Future of Gmail and the ‘Should Do’ … Readability, Simplify, Organize, Integration and Consistency.

image 

 

#4 Google: True Colors Shine Through

In answering the question of Desirability, "Do I want it?" the sub-category of Color Scheme plays an important role. Google Search is an outstanding example of a Good Color Scheme demonstrating alignment of both colors and messaging. Learn from it.

image

#3 Stardoll: Lost and Naked

When you look at a web page, the various elements of the page can often be seen coalescing into distinguishable regions and groups. Intentionally structured, or otherwise, these groups that constitute the page Layout play an important role in the web product’s Desirability. Stardoll is a great example of a web product with Poor Sequential Flow.

image 

#2 ThreeDots: The jQuery Ellipsis Plugin

Many online products employ ellipses within their products to improve various aspects of the User Experience, such as: allowing for easy summary scanning of page content, and fitting more diversity of content into a smaller space.

As a result, the time has come for the jQuery ThreeDots plugin. ThreeDots goes beyond similar tools and lets you easily and smartly truncate text for when: text is too long, text doesn’t fit within the available space, you want to employ highly configurable and flexible ellipses within your web product.

image 

#1 Quick-UX. Quick Heuristics for User eXperience.

Quick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX), consisting of the core components of Usability (‘Can I use it?’), Usefulness (‘Should I use it?’), and Desirability (‘Do I want to use it?’). 

Quick-UX provides a sure-fire, rapid way to obtain concrete and comparable means by which to assess a single product or compare its strengths and weaknesses to other products.

Growing in popularity by leaps and bounds since its original posting in 2008, this posting has earned prime placement amongst other, more recent, articles that made this year, 2009, SUPERFINE.

image

 

theproductgroup_logo_200909_thumb75
balsamiq_logo2_thumb26

This year also saw the launch of The Product Group (sponsored by Balsamiq Studios) in NYC as an opportunity for Product People of all sorts and levels of experience to meet, interact, and network, in a laid-back, conversational environment.  I am certain 2010 will bring many more exciting gatherings, discoveries, and opportunities; and for those reasons, this too, also helped make 2009 for both Product People and The Product Guy, superfine!

Group_Pic_1_20091001 DSC05663 DSC05662 DSC05661

Happy Holidays!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Future: Gmail, Social Media, and You

The Future: Gmail, Social Media, and You

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb35555It’s been many weeks since my conversion has been wholly complete, many months since it became my primary means of email communication, when I was converted by an Android, and years since I first started using…. Gmail.

Over the past many weeks I have explored, elaborated, and exhausted the exercising of my resistance. Now, with such resistance both worn down and overcome, drawn out through my conversion by an Android, let’s explore what improvements remain undone, those of the ‘Should Do’ variety that would directly facilitate the conversions of many, many more to the ways of Gmail.

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Should Do

00_gmail-all Perhaps the greatest challenge to Gmail is Information Overload and the ability to zero in on both what is desired and what is most important.

  • Gmail can often feel like a very, very long list of information with few visual cues assisting in the efficient user parsing of the data. Many things can be done to assist in this readability challenge.
    • Support grouping of emails / discussion threads, by tags, from, to, substrings, age, size, frequency of receipt as well as frequency of reply (or even average delay before reply to), etc.
    • The introduction of the concepts of hierarchy would allow users to zoom in on what is important, becoming less dependent on knowing the precise search, becoming less likely to miss the ever critical email buried in a long list or discussion thread. Beyond the custom coloring of tags (a labs feature) tags should be able to be grouped as well as support hierarchical concepts, sub-tags. This would allow for a bridging of the folder and tag paradigms within the Gmail experience. Of course, having the choice to use tags, tag groups, and sub-tags and their groups, together with folders would provide for even more flexibility of these means of thinking and empower the users to choose the paths best suited for them. Most importantly, these concepts, when implemented, should facilitate finding information without knowing the exact details incumbent to initiate a search, i.e. browsing, possessing the characteristic of easy historical reference of read and unread content within an organizational superstructure that can cut through the overwhelming list of lists experience of today’s Gmail.
    • Sorting and filters, dynamic, inline, and customizable, as well as saved filter rules, another concept that Outlook implemented very well by way of their Search Folders (the name itself almost necessitates a Google equivalent), would also help cut through the clutter.
    • Provide the option to display either the total number (read + unread) or total unread tagged items alongside the tags. In turn, this would provide the ability to immediately archive communications, while maintaining a visual cue of their existence. In this approach, tags could function as more than mere labels, but become more action oriented keeping track of such things as to-do items or other rapidly evolving and critical communication (that would benefit from being separated from the clutter of the Inbox).
  • Discussion threads for tracking communication evidently work well for some people. For others, the thread is a sure fire way to misplace an important subset of the conversation.
    • Enable the ability to disable threads altogether, establish new threads and sub-threads, remove components / emails / sub-threads from a thread.
    • Allow for archiving of selective portions of a discussion thread.
    • Permit discussion threads that consist of multiple modes of communication; a single discussion thread could consist of Google Talk, Twitter, and Email communications centered around a single topic.

Google has many products that have official, open API’s and hooks for cross-product integration; lacking in the case of Gmail . Open source and APIs play very google_apisimportant roles at Google. They …

  • accelerate idea creation — inspire and build upon,
  • leverage the power of the community — improving and extending the product through community ideas, learning and need discovery,
  • facilitate testing (and bug fixing) on greater scale,
  • increase the stickiness of Google products,
  • .. among many other value-added benefits.

And, greater attention to Integration and Consistency within Gmail would also greatly benefit its current and potential users by…

  • Enabling better cross-linking between Google products (e.g. between Google Calendar and Gmail) as well as amongst external properties (e.g. Gmail and OneNote). For example, including the Gmail live discussion thread from which the Google Calendar event was created would be a step in the right direction. In addition, Gmail and Google Docs could be more tightly integrated, with document revisions coordinated and displayed and accessible, alongside the messages within the discussion thread making use of the underlying document(s). Even integrating, to various degrees, with Google Analytics can provide greater understanding of effective communications, best times to reach out to people, best ways to get desired responses, etc.
  • Creating an open Gmail Labs, or Gmail App Store, for third party development of plugins and enhancements for Gmail.
  • Increasing openness, modularity and portability of Gmail and its parts by establishing an Open Development Platform to provide for the rapid evolution of the features and ideas of Gmail; leverage the strategy that has proven so successful in other Google products.
  • Blending the social media stream, from Picasa, YouTube, Facebook, and Orkut to micro-blogging, blog posts, and comments, building upon the current integration of Google Talk and Google Voice to further become the centralized, single place for all an individuals web communication.
  • Supplying a framework for the robust flexibility and customization of the UX and UI. For example, let users create their own buttons, button containers, and both custom and common actions.
  • Integrating more easily and seamlessly with the OS. Microsoft Windows allows the user to right-click ‘send to mail recipient’ on files.’ When Gmail is the primary email client of choice, performing such action should direct the straight to a newly composing Gmail message.
  • Experience and information management should be consistent from one Google product to another, most especially products like Gmail (tag-based organization) and Google Calendar (calendar-based organization) and Google Docs (folder-based organization).

Now

htc-hero-pictures-15 Now that I have switched to Gmail from Outlook, I couldn’t be happier that I was so coaxed into this long resisted position. But, the conversion could have been better facilitated, and more can be done to accelerate others still resisting. I only hope that this journey, together shared, was more than fun, but also illustrative and educational for those that use, may some day use, or are in positions of power and influence to improve the web-based email / communication platform, Gmail.

First converted to a fan of Android, the platform, then converted to a fan of Gmail, too. I resisted the Android, and succumbed. I, for much longer, both longed for and resisted the conversion to Gmail. Through all of this, despite the long path already journeyed, there remain many more steps to walk, specific steps that those overseers of Gmail can take to further enlighten the experience of ones as of now converted as well as those yet to be.

Remember & Share

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss out on other exciting product explorations and in-depth looks at the people and strategies behind them.

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn 
The Product Guy

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You and the Future of Gmail

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb3555htc-hero-pictures-15 Recently our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Through the darkness of masked potential so emerged new and exciting opportunities.

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Over the past many weeks I have explored, elaborated, and exhausted the extent of the then existent exercising of resistance. Now, with such resistance eroded, drawn out through my conversion by an Android, let’s explore what improvements remain undone, those of the ‘Should Do’ variety that would directly facilitate the conversions of many, many more to the ways of Gmail.

Should Do

Seemingly, the most obvious steps that could be taken in easing the path to conversion for the average Gmail user are those that would directly both Encourage and Assist in the change.

  • Provide tools that can synchronize email, to-do, and calendar with other client-based and web-based solutions; allowing for the parallel use of communication platforms.
  • Automate the complete or partial porting of existing email organizing and sorting rules to Gmail from platforms like Hotmail, Automate, and Outlook.

00_gmail-all

Gmail takes a very unique approach to t he email paradigm, from tags to discussion threads. Such uniqueness can take some time to adapt to, while also being very intimidating to both the experienced and novice web user. Gmail would benefit from helping users gradually gain comfort, be in control of the transition from one way of thinking about email to another, by addressing the needs for Familiarity and Usability.

  • Allow for multiple paradigms to co-exist. Let the user decide which parts of the current Gmail UX they want right now and what aspects they want to keep in their ‘old,’ more familiar ways. Maybe tags are too much for a user to absorb in conjunction with discussion threads. For example…
    • let the user optionally use a folder hierarchy if, and until, they want to toggle over to the tag model, and/or
    • allow for different signatures per email account; signatures with pictures, links, etc.
  • Allow for the gradual transition to the Google perceived ideal of email and online communication, as well as the non-committal experimentation with all and/or parts of this newer email pattern.
  • With the incorporation of the very commonly found preview pane, the ability to scan through communications and discussion threads can be seriously accelerated.
  • Permit email reminders and the capability to schedule emails to be sent in the future.
  • Gmail and the other Google communication and time management tools should ease the performance of multiple simultaneous tasks, composing multiple emails, scanning another, planning an event, browsing contacts, without having to open quite so many additional browser windows.

01_outlook-instant With Google’s integral strategic goal to ‘make the web faster,’ one place they can most certainly focus on is the Speed of Gmail. Using Google search for the web is the fast way to find something online. The problem with that, of course, is that the user of Google Search does not differentiate between searching for something on the web and something in their email box when both seem to possess the same goals — "find what I want." Further raising the need for speedy email searching, especially for those converting from Microsoft Outlook, is Outlook’s Instant Search, a near real-time search of all one’s indexed email. It’s super fast. So when switching over to Gmail or even experimenting with it in prelude to a possible conversion, to experience performance slower than that of Outlook as well as the average Google web search, for an application so very central to a productive day, it isn’t surprising to see some continue their resistance.

  • Beyond accelerating the speed of displaying search results, Gmail would greatly benefit from a form of Instant Search, as would its users’ productivity.
  • Initial loading of Gmail, as well as individual page loading, should be greatly reduced. With long page loads, Gmail often regresses to a website feel, away from the target application experience desired by all. One such approach can be to always start in an ‘Instant Offline Mode’ and then update and populate the content; at least in this way, users won’t be delayed in getting into their email and finding what they want. Only the updating of the content would be slowed — much more inline with current application behavior expectations.

Now

First converted to a fan of Android, the platform, then converted to a fan of Gmail, too, I resisted the Android, but eventually succumbed. I, for much longer, both longed for and resisted the conversion to Gmail. Through all of this, despite the long path already journeyed, there remain many more steps to walk, specific steps that those overseers of Gmail can take to further enlighten the experience of ones as of now converted as well as those yet to be.

Remember & Share

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss out on the exciting conclusion to this series exploring the challenges facing Gmail and the most important of what should be done next, and other exciting product explorations and in-depth looks at the people and strategies behind them.

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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From Iterating @ Google to LinkedIn’s Modular Innovation

Every week I read thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

01_finance-strategy

On Starting Up…

http://www.markpeterdavis.com/getventure/2009/11/bootstrapping-vs-venture-funding.html
On choosing the right financing strategy.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/iterative-web-app-new-look-for-gmail.html
The iterative and incremental design process at Google mobile and Gmail.

02_google-iterative
03_linkedin-api

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/linkedin_platform_pros_and_cons.php
A look at LinkedIn’s Modular Innovation progress.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Gmail & What You Think

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb355This is part 7, an interlude in the short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

For before I lay out my thoughts on what Google should consider putting on their ‘Should Do’ list, I thought I would share some of the great off-blog thoughts and advice from others who have been or may some day be converted to Gmail — more than a few with whom I agree.

What Other’s See

imagePosted by Antoine Bonnin

There is so much to do, I’m not sure where to start :).

Easy ones could be to allow folder creation (instead of labels) and an option to sort emails in your inbox (by dates, name, etc).

It would also be great to use Ajax instead of refreshing the page when opening an email, the email content would appear as others slide down (tough one to explain without an image).

Posted by Ilana Schwartz

Top 3 wish list for gmail:
1. Preview pane
2. Tabs for inbox, email in progress, other folders.
3. Sort by (as mentioned)

Posted by Ilana Schwartz

Some are required, by law, to save information and folders seems to be easier conceptually. It does mirror how info is saved to an os.

I could do without folders, but I think that Gmail lacks convenience without preview pane and a variety of sorting methods.

But maybe I’m taking too small a view – I’m quite interested in these fundamental changes you would make…?

image Posted by Eric Sunderhaus

Further mirror functionality in Outlook that users have come to rely on.

Such as..
1. Allow screen capture function similar to Outlook.

"Window Key" + "Print Screen"
"Control + V"

2. Allow users to easily change default email in operating system from Outlook to Gmail so that when applications trigger an email message they don’t immediately open Outlook; but rather Gmail.

Posted by Antoine Bonnin

I agree with llana, preview pane would be a nice feature, so you can easily go through each emails without getting lost in the confusing "email UI".

The "search" is so not user-friendly, you can tell Gmail was created by engineers for engineers :)

image Posted by Luca Candela

I think Gmail is ripe for a serious overhaul… most of the features and settings aren’t easily findable, the legibility of pretty much all text is poor, the interface doesn’t make very good use of big screens…

In general I see a lot of space for improvement, although I’m a fanatic of the service.

image Posted by Roberto Champney

Luca, has a point. Gmail’s has some serious usability problems. I can’t ever remember where things are and even to create a new message it is hard to find the function (even though it is right there in front of you; but some genius managed to make it almost invisible). I use it as backup and for its calendar sharing feature, that’s about it.

I like the thread approach, but things can get scary after a few threads are going on. Also the lack of a "drag ‘n drop" capability makes it more a hassle than good all outlook (try attaching 5 files and you get my point)…

good luck…

image Posted by David Garrett

I think step 1 should be more from a business requirements standpoint than a user experience solution. In other words, they need to accommodate all the services that Hotmail and others provide, such as calendar tools but, at the same time, include some of their own unique tools and link tightly with Maps, YouTube, etc. and seriously consider how those services can play into the evolution of gmail.

Posted by Luca Candela

Matt, I STRONGLY disagree with you. Gmail doesn’t need to be beautiful but needs to get better at being usable. Right now it’s downright distracting. Live mail is way better at letting you know instantly what is what and what’s the purpose of everything.

"If they do it that way there’s a good reason for it" it’s the kind of mentality that keeps progress from doing its job. I grew up in a small town surrounded by farmland, and it’s the kind of rationale old farmers would come up with when they had no better way of arguing against some improvement or change in old ways of doing something.

Gmail is an awesome product that was put together by people worried about a few things but definitely not about making it easy to use. It would take very little to make it a better product and I for one wouldn’t miss the old interface AT ALL.

In fact, you can check some interesting experiments in skinning with the style plugin for firefox, if you can’t find it just let me know and I’ll give you the links.

image Posted by Vera Lugovskaya

SORTING
The absence of sorting was a big issue for me. I needed to be able to sort by Sender. After a while I found "Filter". It kinda solved my problem but column sorting would improve usability a lot.

PRINT
Another detail which was bothering me was "Print All" when I needed to print one message from a thread. It seems recently they added "Print" to message features which prints one message though I still feel that "Print All" should be a second choice in the Message window.

LABELS VS. FOLDERS
I agree that labels are limited. Besides they have "Tree" widget in their GWT library. I wonder I they don’t use it in GMail.

image Posted by Matt Gist

Gmail should keep pegging away as is. People should get used to the fact that something like a web-based email client should be highly-customizable and ever changing.

Gmail might not be beautiful, but it wouldn’t be designed the way it is without exhausted research and data to support why it is design the way it is.

If people need acclimating, then the best thing would be tutorials and such.

image Posted by Bob Stoneburner

Actually what Google is doing is probally the best strategy. Provide Android as an open source platform with multiple communication options in a single client, (email, online presence, schedualing, video conferencing, SMS, ect). Get traditional Microsoft OEMS to build smart phones on your mobile platform. Ultimately cost and level of integration in the cloud (with mobile being a primary access point) will drive adoption of which email system users select.

The Next

First converted to a fan of Android, the platform, then converted to a fan of Gmail, too. I resisted the Android, and succumbed. I, for much longer, both longed for and resisted the conversion to Gmail. Through all of this, despite the long path already journeyed, there remain many more steps to walk, specific steps that those overseers of Gmail can take to further enlighten the experience of ones as of now converted as well as those yet to be. But, that, my friends, that part of this short story, I will save for next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Gmail – Sweating the Small Stuff

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb35This is part 6 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

Part 6: To Resist

Recently our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Through the darkness of masked potential so emerged new and exciting opportunities. But, to fully grasp this fortune, these new degrees of productivity, it is important to pause, take measure of, and understand the crux at the heart at the core of the resistance to Gmail.

I am often asked, more so in the days since my recent conversion to Gmail, what is was, specifically, precisely, that caused me to build up such a strong aversion to a product such as this. And, the final piece, pieces, that made whole, almost immutable, my resistance to this conversion where the slowness, and the abundance of the little things.

Tiny Things

My on again, off again relationship, my basic resistance to Gmail was many-fold and lasted only until most recently. It was often the tiny things that got under the skin and kept us apart.

These things that grate at our well being, drive us apart when everything else feels surmountable, like pebbles, individually dismissible, together formidable, and in this case, significant in their contribution to the resistance heretofore exercised in the prelude to my conversion to Gmail.

Enough

Such infractions within this relationship had a cumulative effect:

Of course, to a much lesser extent than those explored in prior weeks, nonetheless, one of those pebbles, was the lack of customization of Gmail and Gmail related products (e.g. Google Calendar). And, by customization, I am referring to the abilities of plug-ins and other functionality aspects of these products whose counterparts in Exchange and Outlook had proven a comfortable harbor — one which I did not long to depart. Sure, calendar coloring by category is a tiny feature, a tiny thing, but one that I had grown accustomed to, one that has been there for me in helping me group and highlight important or critical elements — the similar offerings from Google Calendar, colorizing by calendar, not category, did not pass muster.

01_outlook-colors-calendar

02_google-calendar-colors

Another, inconsiderate act upon which I was frequently subjected, and even continues to this day, with greatly decreased frequency, relates to another notable series of infractions. Gmail never meant me any harm. I know that. It, I have believed, has always had the best intentions in trying to meet my needs, even trying to protect me from harm. But, its rigid treatment of spam, its very powerful spam filtering, … some interruptions occurring mid conversation … has resulted in me losing more than a few messages over the years.

03_gmail-spam

04_outlook-spam

It’s the tiny things that served as a persistent reminder to the Gmail resistance, individually minor, almost insignificant, but there nonetheless, unchanging, unmoving, and reminding me of all the other bigger things, that too persisted in like form. It’s the daily, tiny things that, when the larger ones fade from sight, serve has reminders to all the problems in the relationship that remain, remind us and eventually succeed in ensuring a persistent divide unbridged…

 

…that is, of course, unless, until you have the chance encounter, with an Android.

 

 

The Next

And, these propellants of reluctance, delayers of adoption, the fundamental causes of my resistance to what would eventually be overshadowed and forced aside, through the coercion of an Android to my conversion to the ways of Gmail, will, my friends, have to wait until next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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More Gmail Problems – Slowness

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb3This is part 5 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

Part 5: To Resist

Recently our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Through the darkness of masked potential so emerged new and exciting opportunities. But, to fully grasp this fortune, these new degrees of productivity, it is important to pause, take measure of, and understand the crux at the heart at the core of the resistance to Gmail.

00_gmail-all

I am often asked, more so in the days since my recent conversion to Gmail, what is was, specifically, precisely, that caused me to build up such a strong aversion to a product such as this. And, the final piece, pieces, that made whole, almost immutable, my resistance to this conversion were the slowness, and the abundance of the little things.

Slow Play

The slow ticking, deafening to one waiting for the anticipated. Uncomfortable, the overbearing beating experienced, slowly. For far too often, especially when compared with its (Gmail’s) client-based counterparts, the tortuous drip of the less than instant search…

01_outlook-instant

…as well as the much lamented loading and screen transitions …

02_loading-gmail-1

02_loading-gmail-2

…that seem, even to this day, to reassert themselves and do cause the reluctant reassessment, of reversion from this conversion. And, impediments enough prior to that, too fostered, bolstered the overall aversion.

Thus Be Slow

This product, whose existence in my heart was a duality of contradiction, both courted and simultaneously resisted, placed further strains on this relationship that was still yet to be through its exhibition of yet another form of slow, adding unnecessary ballast to an already firmly cemented resistance.

This flame, with whom I oft flirted and fled, constantly tempted me, showing me a directional inclination to meet my needs and address my concerns. Such innovations were Gmail’s enchantments.

Dressed in exciting and alluring features befitting many a niche market and wanton suitor, myself not excluded, Gmail showed off such items as inline Netflix — great for that quick, one-time thrill; directionally appealing, but not enough upon which to build a long term relationship.

03_gmail-netflix

My family is a small one, but with everyone having their role and doing their part, up to now always getting along. Sure, there’s the occasional spat. But, in the end the family has always come together, harmony reached, OneNote sharing with Outlook, email and notes kindly cooperating and linking up with calendar, etc.

04_onenote-link

05_calendar-link

Gmail looked like it may someday get along with the whole family. However and again, its slowness came into play. Oh, sure, it worked hard in demonstrating the desire to improve and move in this direction, but lacking in facility, and those of which to bring home to and boast about.

But, for sealing the deal, a broader, some more whole approach, more generally appealing would be needed.

Separations

Passionate reunions were, over this long courtship, ignited…

06_gmail-gears

I waited, just outside, for what seemed, maybe even was, an eternity, to be able to take Gmail out and offline. But, while the time did eventually come, and did go a long way in wearing down my long established resistance, freeing myself and Gmail in our travels, enjoying our time in the park, on the plane, in far off places, places where WiFi had yet to reach.

… but, each and every time ending in disappointment, each subsequent breakup more disheartening than the last.

And, while dazzling, this flame, with whom I flirted, was a slow burning one. The evidence of aforementioned inclinations dwindled, giving rise to apprehensions of illusions, concerns of progress in ways most fitting to the needs most relevant, most pertinent to my resistance.

Little Things & The Resistance

But, what of the other reasons for my resistance, which managed to be sustained from the early days of the private Gmail beta to the most recent of but few weeks passed? What sort of little things could have kept me apart from Gmail for so long a time? For surely there must be more to such a stalwart position as has been held by me, and I am sure many others still, for, for them, the resistance most definitely continues. And, indeed there are. In addition to…

Exiguous Encouragement,
Inescapable IO (Information Overload), and
Suffersome Slowness

… there too are the staunch galvanizers of resistance …

Tiny Things.

The Next

And, these propellants of reluctance, delayers of adoption, the fundamental causes of my resistance to what would eventually be overshadowed and forced aside, through the coercion of an Android to my conversion to the ways of Gmail, will, my friends, have to wait until next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Another Gmail Problem – Inescapable IO

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb3534This is part 4 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

Part 4: To Resist

Recently our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Through the darkness of masked potential so emerged new and exciting opportunities. But, to fully grasp this fortune, these new degrees of productivity, it is important to pause, take measure of, and understand the crux at the heart at the core of the resistance to Gmail.

I am often asked, more so in the days since my recent conversion to Gmail, what is was, specifically, precisely, that caused me to build up such a strong aversion to a product such as this. The constitution of my answer is thus…

Inescapable IO (Information Overload)

00_gmail_discussion-thread Almost on par with the deficiency of means of acclimation available to (potential) Gmail converts, is the onerously persistent burden of IO — Information Overload. From the beginning of Gmail there have always been discussions, a construct of threaded conversations, automagically grouped, combined, amalgamated into lists.

00_gmail-all Lists, and of lists, bombarding, overwhelming with line after line after line of content with no simple, no familiar way to dig out. A monotony of information, endless in its flattened constancy. Of course, this is a monotony not universal to this method of interchange, for where others have embraced the grouped order hills (sub-folders) comingled with sowed valleys (sorted) and ranges (folders), Gmail plows this all down in lieu of a different order. By these flattened plains, stretching outward, there is no way to easily zoom into what is important, have a sense of past, localized exchanges. With the horizon the only visible bound, without knowing exactly of that for which you seek, it is easy to become lost, no characteristics, no landmarks to point the way, no approach to lead the way between the here and there.

However, in this new order, for as far as the eye can see, there exist few instruments to either approach or approximate the supposedly archaic structures of the prior lands (Outlook, Exchange, Windows Mobile). Digging is limited to the most simplest of shovels, requiring a precision of intent previously unnecessary. For buried deep within a list, unsortable, unorganizable, may be that sought after thing, yet only revealed to the skilled, the lucky, in finding the magic word, the keyword.

02_gmail_search

And then there are those younger conversations, active, full of life, in the here and now. Conversations woven into threads, subject-locked, compressed together, layer upon layer, each exchange compounding each further layer another more, until at last, with the grounds of this conversation deeply rooted, only then, within this vastly growing mound does one realize that there may be more than one or two who have suffered the fate of being buried alive, messages unread, deep within the endlessly scrolling, organizably deficient, active discussion threads; where many an unread message have before, too been lost.

gmail-thunderbird-screenshot Sure, such structures have their merits, especially in contrast to those ‘archaic’ (Outlook, Exchange, etc.). But with no means by which to avoid or mitigate the suffocating enclosures of the hierarchically challenged experience, with few approximating tools, with the IMAP equivalents merely presenting additional schmutz to the pile that was already heaping layer upon layer of Information Overload, with minimal ability to shift around, to lessen the burden, the paths toward maintaining the productivity and efficiencies of time past can easily be obscured.

The Resistance

But, what of the other reasons for my resistance, which managed to be sustained from the early days of the private Gmail beta to the most recent of but few weeks passed? For surely there must be more to such a stalwart position as has been held by me, and I am sure many others still, for, for them, the resistance most definitely continues. And, indeed there are. In addition to…

Exiguous Encouragement, and
Inescapable IO (Information Overload)

… there too are the staunch galvanizers of resistance …

Suffersome Slowness, and
Tiny Things.

The Next

And, these propellants of reluctance, delayers of adoption, the fundamental causes of my resistance to what would eventually be overshadowed and forced aside, through the coercion of an Android to my conversion to the ways of Gmail, will, my friends, have to wait until next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Del.ico.us Furl Reddit Google Add to Mixx!

The Gmail Problem – Encouragement

gmail_logo_stylized_thumb35[3]This is part 3 of a short story of personal exploration and development by one new to the daily employment of Gmail, long resisted, long desired, and eventually brought to conversion by an Android.

Part 3: To Resist

Recently our journey began. From the humble origins of Outlook to the portable synchronicity of the Windows Mobile platform, I did travel, did evolve, as needs, desires, and demands of communication and productivity so evolved and changed. Through the darkness of masked potential so emerged new and exciting opportunities. But, to fully grasp this fortune, these new degrees of productivity, it is important to pause, take measure of, and understand the crux at the heart at the core of the resistance to Gmail.

I am often asked, more so in the days since my recent conversion to Gmail, what is was, specifically, precisely, that caused me to build up such a strong aversion to a product such as this. The constitution of my answer is thus…

Exiguous Encouragement

00_gmail-all

To be unwelcomed into foreign arms was foremost the chief reason for my resistance. Over the years I have proven myself adaptive, willing and eager to try and learn new skills, especially of those that possess the potential to further optimize my relationships and time spent thereupon. This cause, perhaps the best embodiment of my duality of desires, the eagerness to embrace, coupled with the strenuous resistance to adopt, too had solutions’ twain — to either or both acclimate or assist.

To acclimate, the more desirous of the paths would have been to support an easing shift, a reduction of the jagged peaks on this most mountainous path to the gentle current of reorganized communication. To teach one, myself, how to swim this new stroke in this new lane, would be to show me, teach me, facilitate my gradual, incremental evolution. Providing an environment wholly novel and new, with no path to acclimation nor encouragement in transition, a total dunking in the deep end, from user interface to other parallels of familiarity that could bring me forth, predicates the alternative, of the lowest common denominator, to assist.

01_google-apps-sync To assist, the tools of self determination would enable the toe dipping into the Gmail pool. To be able to straddle, with one foot in each, the choices, both presenting their own unique experiences, both available to cater to my liquid needs, would have, in an unforceful fashion empowered me to, myself, make the decision as to when I felt I was fully ready to jump into this new pool. Recently, and for far longer at 03_google-syncthe exclusive enterprise level, tools of synchronization do exist, but fall/fell short in timing and implementation — from seamlessness to bidirectionality; capabilities becoming better addressed and more widely available since my full on dive in.

 

The Resistance

But, what of the other reasons for my resistance, which managed to be sustained from the early days of the private Gmail beta to the most recent of but few weeks passed? For surely there must be more to such a stalwart position as has been held by me, and I am sure many others still, for, for them, the resistance most definitely continues. And, indeed there are. In addition to…

Exiguous Encouragement

… there too are the staunch galvanizers of resistance …

Inescapable IO (Information Overload),
Suffersome Slowness, and
Tiny Things.

The Next

And, these propellants of reluctance, delayers of adoption, the fundamental causes of my resistance to what would eventually be overshadowed and forced aside, through the coercion of an Android to my conversion to the ways of Gmail, will, my friends, have to wait until next week.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the eventual adoption of Gmail in one’s daily life, by one once thoroughly addicted to, dependent on, the primarily client-based solution of Microsoft’s Outlook,

what brought about this conversion, (1) (2)
why it took so long, and (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)
what should be done to encourage greater Gmail adoption. (8) (9)

Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Add to Social Bookmarks: Stumbleupon Del.ico.us Furl Reddit Google Add to Mixx!