Gmail user interface problems

Question: do you design an application for power users or novices?

Ideally, your design is so mindblowingly uber-good that it works perfectly for both. In the real world, however, you make compromises.

Take Gmail, for instance.

I have a Gmail account – mostly so I can publish an email address baldly on this blog and not worry too much about spam. First of all, Gmail’s spam protection is very, very good. And secondly, it’s not my primary account, so I don’t really care too much.

So I’m a Gmail novice … I go there about once a week. (Mail sent to my Gmail account is forwarded to one I check daily.) When there, mostly I just look at what comes in … any email I write, I send from my primary, account.

But occasionally I want to send an email from Gmail. And it never fails: I always have to hunt, sometimes for 20 seconds, for the Send Mail button. Of course, there isn’t one:

It’s called “Compose Mail.” And it’s hidden, almost – certainly way less prominent than the Archive, Delete, or Report Spam buttons. (To say nothing of the Search button.)

Is this good design?

There’s no question Gmail is great technology. But I doubt anyone would call it great design … even if it may work for power users.

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Other thoughts on Gmail’s design
Joel on Software forum, Paul Kedrosky (a great speaker, btw, heard him once at VEF), Walt Mossberg, Richard MacManus, Dan Brown (very comprehensive piece!), Topix blog.

[tags] UI, user interface, GUI, gmail, google, email, design, john koetsier [/tags]

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