It’s the simple things that will piss off the users of your startup’s app and even the biggest companies don’t seem to get it. The product team at Gmail is especially bad at interface design. Here’s another example of a team sacrificing usability for either a perceived need that doesn’t exist or for their own benefit at the expense of their users.
Good ole Gmail development team just really can’t get it together with their incredibly bad interface. This is a minor interface example, but a perfect way to show that no one there is really thinking about the user along with the myriad of other problems with their interface.
When you receive a long html message in Gmail, Google clips the message and provides a link at the bottom of the message for you to view the entire message in a new tab. This is frustrating and nonsensical on a couple of levels, but let’s first take a look at the reasoning for this from the Gmail help site.
Message text is clipped
To ensure that messages load quickly, Gmail displays only a portion of the text of long messages. To read the full text of a clipped message, scroll to the bottom of the message, and click View entire message.
So, in order for me to see the entire email that Gmail wanted to have “load quickly” for me, I have to click a link in order to open it in a new interface element (tab). That doesn’t feel any quicker.
Now, to get to the link, I have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the message, figure out that I can’t see the whole thing, then open the message in a new tab and then scroll back down to where I was in the message. Sigh…
Now, when the message is loaded in the new window, there are no interface elements for me to interact with or delete the message. Now my use of the message and Gmail is delayed even further. Another barrier to usability, because I have to close the tab and go back to the primary Gmail interface in order to delete or forward the message.
This is all especially frustrating for me, because I use a service called Sanebox, to make my use of email more efficient, but in order to respond to the list of filtered emails I receive in a digest from Sanebox, Google forces me to load a message in a new window.
Finally, I load web pages all day long in my browser, does Google really believe I need a long email to load more quickly than the dozens of pages I view in a given day? My suspicion is that this has nothing to do with making emails load quickly for me and has everything to do with the load / bandwidth used on Google’s servers.
I’ve been a user of Gmail since it first launched and there are many things that I like about it, but the negatives to my productivity just keep piling up and I’ve gotten to the point where I only use their interface when I absolutely have to and instead use an email client to avoid this train wreck of an interface.