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

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From Sliding Offline to Adapting from Bad

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_failure

On Product Management…

http://www.theaccidentalpm.com/z-product/why-failure-is-a-product-managers-best-friend
Adapt with results of the good and the bad.

modularinnovation_slide

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.webpronews.com/google-adds-offline-editing-support-for-slides-2013-01
Slide into presenting offline with ease.

design_translate

On Design & Product Experience…

http://alistapart.com/article/translation-is-ux
Transform your experience with a shift of the word.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From Criticizing to Google’s UI Enforcement

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

01_criticism

On Starting Up…

http://zenhabits.net/criticism/
Starting up requires the grace of accepting criticism.

02_android

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.androidguys.com/2011/03/31/mips-releases-statement-googles-ui-crackdown/
Google’s lessons in UI enforcement.

03_usatoday

On Modular Innovation…

http://blog.programmableweb.com/2011/03/23/usa-today-api-now-serving-reviews-and-snapshots/
USA Today, now delivering more Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From Being Google-y to Consoling the (API) Masses

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

02_scvngr

On Design & Product Experience…

http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/12/scvngr-ceo-seth-priebatsch-the-game-layer-is-coming-sxsw/
Designing the next Level-up … in your real-life.

03_apigee

On Modular Innovation…

http://mashable.com/2011/03/11/apigee-to-go
On consoling the masses of Modular Innovation.

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Memorable Utility. Evaluating Convenience through Quick-MI.

clip_image001Through increased utility and stateful behavior, products are able to improve the User eXperience (UX) as well as strengthen the bond of the relationship between product-product and user-product. This manner of contribution, to the strength of products’ relationships, is better understood and evaluated via Quick-MI’s category of Convenience — 1 of the 5 components of Quick-MI.

In my ongoing discussion of Quick-MI we have already explored the importance of…

…as essential components for successful Modular Innovations. Quick-MI consists of 5 components, or categories, that bring to light critical variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend. Modular Innovation (MI), along with a product’s User eXperience (UX), combine to become strong indicators of a product’s adoption and success.

As previously described

Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree to which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards, greater degrees of Modular Innovation.

In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Convenience are…

  • Utilizability
  • Memorability

Each variable and category (e.g. Convenience) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.

Utilizability

Utilizability is at the measure of how useful the product is from various, diverse, points of entry. Utilizability can also be seen as a look at how product and people relationships are maintained and fostered under non-desktop browser situations. It is a look at the diversity of means by which the product may be put to use by the user. Utilizability consists of 3 sub-variables, whose values are summed to constitute the final Utilizability variable value:

  • Offline Utilizability
  • Mobile Utilizability
  • Alternate Utilizability

Offline Utilizability assesses the dependence upon a persistent Internet connection of a given product. Furthermore, Offline Utilizability evaluates the extent to which the capability permeates all facets of the product. Some products make use of another product called Google Gears in order to provide additional functionality to their products; sometimes also including the ability to use all or part of the product Offline. Google Docs, for example, makes use of Google Gears to provide local, portable access regardless of the current state of an Internet connection.

The Offline Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no Offline use of the product exists,
  • 0.5 if some of functionality the product can be used Offline, or
  • 1 if all of the functionality of the product is able to be used whether or not there exists an Internet connection.

01_offline-google-calendar Offline Google Calendar possesses a subset of the functionality as its online counterpart, being limited primarily to the display of the calendar information, earning it an Offline Utilizability variable value of 0.5.

Mobile Utilizability evaluates the degree of Utilizability of a product from a mobile product. A mobile product can be anything from cell phone, to PDA, to any other device with handheld-portable intent. A good example of partial Mobile Utilizability is Facebook’s mobile interface. While Facebook does provide an easy-to-use interface to much of its key functionality, the mobile version of Facebook limits the capabilities (e.g. no access to Facebook apps) that are Utilizable from a mobile device.

The Mobile Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no Mobile (portable device) use of the product exists,
  • 0.5 if some of functionality the product can be Utilized via a Mobile device, or
  • 1 if all of the functionality of the product is Utilizable via a Mobile device.

02_techmeme Another example can be seen in Techmeme, a product that provides all of its non-mobile functionality to a user’s mobile device, achieving a Mobile Utilizability value of 1.

Alternate Utilizability addresses the “other” of Utilizability. How does a product “help” the user use it – beyond Offline and Mobile Utilizability? For the purposes of quick assessment, Alternate Utilizabilty is limited to assessing the degree of Utilizable data and functionality facilitated via alternate products and services. Through what 3rd-party products (digital or physical), or other online 03_identi_ca services, can the product be Utilized. A new product worth following, Identi.ca, with an Alternate Utilizability variable value of 1, is working on implementing the Alternate Utilizability concept via the OpenMicroblogging protocol — that will eventually allow people to send and receive their Twitter and Identi.ca “tweets” from any Laconi.ca (the ‘guts’ behind Identi.ca) server — completely independent of the current status of the Twitter service.

The Alternate Utilizability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if none of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate products,
  • 0.5 if some of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate products, or
  • 1 if all of the product’s data is accessible and utilizable from alternate services and/or products.

Memorability

Most products have some degree of Memorability; typically in the form of Setting Memorability. The more that is remembered, the more Convenient is the interaction as well as the underlying functionality, to use and benefit from, and so too are the relationships that facilitate the retention, reconnectivity, and, of course, memory. Memorability is the saving of conditional information and is represented as the sum of 2 sub-variables:

  • Setting Memorability
  • Stateful Memorability

Setting Memorability evaluates the degree of Memorability of user settings. Not all settings are always remembered. For example, some products may or may not remember a customized color scheme.

  • If none of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 0.
  • If some of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 0.5.
  • If all of a product’s Settings are recalled upon a user’s return then the Setting Memorability variable value is 1.

04_hootsuite People who use Hootsuite are happily familiar with the product’s ability to recollect all of the user’s settings and display configuration upon each successive return, earning it a Settings Memorability variable value of 1.

Stateful Memorability evaluates the degree of Memorability of user state – the portions of the experience which, upon user interaction, indicate a preference or customization, but are not directly settable as a user setting. For example, some products may allow the user to re-arrange the UI, moving some windows around, while minimizing others. Within similar products, the user is manipulating the state of the product, and the degree of Stateful Memorability is seen as to how much, if any, of the window positions and similar customizations are retained upon the user’s later return to the product. Another abstract example: Imagine a user Utilizing a product and getting to step 12 of 45 before having to leave. A form of Stateful Memorability that this product may provide is allowing the user to return later to continue from Step 12 and move beyond it, from the desktop, or even a portable device.

The Stateful Memorability variable’s value is…

  • 0 if no state information is remembered,
  • 0.5 if some state information is remembered, or
  • 1 is all state information is remembered.

05_eyeos Classic EyeOS, a web-based operating system, recalls some of your state information, icon placement, etc., from session to session, resulting in a Stateful Memorability variable value of 0.5.

Conveniently Quick

Success of a product is more than having the most awe inspiring UX. There is a lot more to it. Another component, another dimension of sustained success online is Modular Innovation.

Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.

Important to successful relationships is the ease with which one can re-establish and return to those relationships. This Convenience, when present, can strengthen and even encourage the stronger Modular Innovation relationship and bond through well done implementations of utility and retention, Utilizability and Memorability. These conveniences are another key to understanding the trend of Modular Innovation.

Remember, Convenience is just 1 of 5 categories that make up Quick-MI. The other 4 categories are…

Through all 5 categories, combined, a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.

Enjoy, Discuss & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

PS Try it out, tweak it, learn more about Modular Innovation and share you experiences.

Modular Innovation 201

image What is Modular Innovation?

Modular Innovation can be briefly described as the products and platforms consisting of or facilitating…

  • Relationships (people-people, products-products, people-products)
  • Control of Experience (from creation to storage to interaction)
  • Ownership of Content (personal content from comments to friend lists and more)

You can also see the trend, itself, being referred to as “Modular Innovation,” much in the same way the term “Web 2.0” is still used today.

The products and concepts that constitute Modular Innovation are those that connect, enable, produce, enhance, extend, and make use of these relationships and, in turn, users’ online experiences with them.

Modular Innovation is increasingly everywhere these days…
Facebook Connect
@anywhere
Crowd sourcing
FourSquare
API’s
Expensify
Plugins
Chrome
Data exchanges
SugarSync
Google Maps
PBWorks

… and many more products, forms, and methodologies.

For the rest of the article, I will walk us through the path of the online product from a time before the prevailing trend of Modular Innovation to today, and set the scene for what is to come.

Web Problems 2.0

It’s hard today to find an online product that hasn’t in some way been touched by Modular Innovation. You might look to the old blogs as a pre-Modular Innovation, with their initial incarnation as log-oriented websites, and the most rudimentary relationship common between website and website visitor of the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 eras.

Some products still holding fast to the ways of the Web 1.0 and 2.0 worlds…

Web 1/2.0 Products Missing Modular Innovation…
JD Supra
http://www.jdsupra.com/
a forward thinking legal 2.0 product leveraging the UGC of the legal community, but starkly lacking a public API allowing for the accelerated growth of the community by way of 3rd party apps for participating
Turbo Credit Solutions
http://turbocreditsolution.com/index.php
all the entered information is one way; there is no extracting of entered financial information or connecting to any of the services it purports to help with, nor any other desktop- or web-based financial tools
CommandShift3
http://commandshift3.com/
fun and wonderful experience, but lacks any sort of ties to the outside world beyond its basic screenshotting functionality; it could, for example, allow for the creation of accounts, remember expressed views and comments, allow users to save these comments, allow for a widget that can be inserted on websites of recently reviewed / rated items

Interestingly … A Flickr

The very popular product, Flickr, launched at the start of the Web 2.0 age has prospered, in no short order due to its understanding of the importance of interconnectivity and relationships, built into its early foundation. Flickr demonstrated a unique foresight into what would propel it onward through Web 2.0 and beyond, by embracing many of the, at the time yet defined, underpinnings of Modular Innovation.

Building Blocks

Building upon the pre-Modular Innovation archetype of blogs, discussed in the previous section, the Modular Innovations that are blogs today are now seen with clear characteristics of Modular Innovation like…

Allowing bloggers to download / export their content (and often upload it to other locations and competing blog platforms)

Connecting Twitter and Facebook in various manners

Permitting bloggers to drop-in custom plugins and even full commenting sub-systems

In Web 2.0, we had looks, feels, AJAX and communities. Through Modular Innovation, we have relationships, modular products and other services that facilitate the relational parts… all the components, and the Internet environment within which they, Modular Innovations, thrive.

A Modular Innovation can be small, a feature or mini-mini-product, or large, a module-connector service, a social network. Modular Innovations alone, and more so when combined, lead to users’ information that is increasingly…

Portable
Shareable
Interoperable
Customizable
Redundant / Replicated
Accessible

…and, basically, their own, the users’, to do with as they wish, to control via the Modular Innovation(s) within their personally controlled online user environment —a user experience both open and dynamic.

Modular Innovation puts the people in control – of their content and their interaction with it. The people can easily share their data, export it, import it, customize privacy, across different social networks, products and other environments. Their data becomes modular, flexible, and portable. Users’ experiences consist of many modules that make up their total user experience. Content and functionality, with greater Modular Innovation becomes further decentralized across these modules, each providing a single, small or large, set of abilities or experiences, that together break down the walls (silos) that are the proprietary platforms, and empower the people, the users of the Internet, to be in charge of their data and their experience.

As modules leverage open standards, people are increasingly able to publish their content to multiple destinations, manage their content across a variety of products. As Modular Innovations relationally increase so too decreases, as is being seen by way of …

OpenSocial,
Facebook Connect,
Twitter @Anywhere,

… the need to re-find friends, or re-re-re-publish one’s content, as well as port and integrate their personal, content creations with other services, other Modular Innovations. Modular Innovations are increasingly empowering the user through the enabling of greater flexibility and control of interaction with the user’s own data. Data that, through more and more Modular Innovation, is becoming …

increasingly portable,
increasingly integrated,
increasingly customizable.

Products that are or facilitate Modular Innovation are the ones that have proven themselves among the most persistent and continue to gain increasing acceptance in the current evolution of the social and interactive relationships of the Internet.

Looking Forward

There already exist many complex frameworks actively being developed and evolved that will definitely be major influences in shaping the course of Modular Innovation. These modules, or Modular Innovations, can represent a single or group of features and functionality, or a service or framework that augments or allows for new inter-module relationships to be established.

A Modular Innovation often described as a framework that “allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries.aka Semantic Web

A Modular Innovation that represents an image oriented feature set that allows for the easy connectivity to and from other resources as well as the inclusion of the production functionality within and between other Internet products. aka Flickr

Through combining and connecting and customizing modules, an owner, a user, is in control to customize their full experience and interaction with their own content as well as that of others.

Through the connectivity and relationships of modules, users’ ownership of the content that flows through is also strengthened, as well as those relationships among the people with each other and the Modular Innovations with which each interacts.

As the tendrils of Modular Innovation deepen and spread, the user experience becomes progressively more defined by the modules and the relationships between the modules and the individuals using them, not the network or any single product (or feature).

Enjoy, Discuss & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

From the Buzz of Modular Innovation to Success in Redesign

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

01_fundraising-tips

On Starting Up…

http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/11791/9-Quick-Tips-Learned-While-Raising-33-Million-In-Venture-Capital.aspx
Quick and useful tips on raising venture capital.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://sixrevisions.com/web_design/the-three-golden-rules-of-site-redesigns/
Finding success in site redesign.

02_redesign
03_google-buzz

On Modular Innovation…

http://blog.programmableweb.com/2010/02/09/google-wastes-no-time-in-launching-google-buzz-api/
Modular Innovation’s disruptive capabilities demonstrated via Google Buzz.

 

What are you reading this weekend?

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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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

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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

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Enjoy & Tweet!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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