Fast view on the Gmail UI/UX solutions

Email had been the most useful internet service until Web 2.0 and IP telephony were developed.  It was more than half of traffic in the networks in 70th-80th. Now the mail is fading because social networks and skype have better features in messaging. But still every person or company is obligated to have email because all conformations and passwords come there.  There are a lot of mail services but we want to check the most popular one – Gmail.

We cannot see any allusion to email on the main page of Gmail. If I am looking for mail service I need to know I am on the proper site. But here we can see big Google logo and small light gray text about Gmail. Advanced users surely know that Gmail is belonged to Google, but there a lot of newcomer who don’t figure it out. Empty avatar is right thing for social network because users want to fill the gap. I am not sure that it is right decisions for mail service but Google is building their own network and it has sense for it. The “Create account” link is moved too far from the “Sign in” button and they are separated by line.  They have to be designed together and have the same weight because here is only two options – sign in (if you have account) and register (if you haven’t).

The registration form is simply and good designed. There are gray tips for users in inputs.  Newcomer moves down and fills all information. Usually you need to fill only login and password. If I don’t want give to the service other information, I cannot skip some unnecessary inputs like “gender” or “birthday”. Often people give this data wrong because they don’t want somebody to know their birthday date.  So even if Google want to collect this info – there is no warranty it is true.

The top of Gmail page is designed very badly. Here are no icons for user actions (delete, reply, forward etc).  Here are page tabs for social notification and ads.  They are very wide and users can loose “Social” and “Promotions” tabs. The icons and names for “Primary” and “Promotions” are not understandable.  These tabs have to be in left menu under “Inbox” item.  There are unnecessary links “Starred”  and “Important” instead.  I think “starred” mails are some kind of archaism and nobody use them nowadays.  The right menu must have “Inbox”, “Sent”, “Drafts”, “Spam”, “Trash” and “Unread” items. You can’t open all unread mails in Gmail because here is no link. The pages navigation is in the right top corner.  If you scroll down the page there is no navigation. It is very stupid to put it on the top, not in the bottom under all the letters.

Each letter has unnecessary buttons like “Lebel” and “More” where we can mark it important or not. Even if we want to do it – it haven’t to be hidden. The useful “Print” feature is hidden also. The “Report spam” button is not clear and “Reply” button is in very strange place - right top part of the letter. “Reply” and “Forward” link are too tiny in the bottom.

If users want to fix something or to adjust they go to Settings and meet huge mess there. There are many unnecessary features like colors of the stars or choosing text/icons buttons.  I am pretty sure that 50% of them are not used by users at all. And I am pretty sure that 50% of users have difficulties in finding here what they want and another 50% have never adjusted their mail account.

Email service has to receive and send letters. Here it is really complicated to do. Gmail needs UX analysis because it has many excessive and unnecessary features but really useful ones are absent. 

Fast view on the Gmail UI/UX solutions, 2014

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