RE: [Evolution] CHI'96 paper on mail usability and some thoughts

      1. The use of these features should not be a hidden feature,
           or an advanced setting.  It should be presented to the user

      2. Users should start using the feature the sooner the
           better.  How can we insinuate this to users?

An obscure to use feature is just like a feature that is not present
for most cases.

I absolutely agree with this one.  I worked on a mail client for a few years
(that was never released, sadly), and we worked on a couple of things that
we thought were cool from this perspective:

1. We tried to make it really easy to setup filters, by allowing people to
drag messages from the inbox to a filter "button" (or was it directly to a
folder?).  You could drag just a column (a table cell) of a message as well
as the whole message, so it was easy to setup a filter like:  "Move all
messages from <...> to folder <...>" with a single drag from the cell in the
"From" column and "Ok" of the dialog that popped up with the prebuilt
filter.  It wasn't necessarily intuitive, but it seemed to be a good
metaphor.  Certainly easier than the 10 or so steps in Outlook.

2. We always wanted to implement some "user watching" where we'd observe
them perform some repetitive task and then ask them if they wanted to
automate it (sort of like Microsoft Word does, except presumably more
useful!).  Done well, I think this has the potential to help expose nice
features to users.  We never did anything useful with this, however.

Just my 0.001$US.


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