Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Priority Inbox

While I’m waiting for Priority Inbox to roll into my Gmail account, I’m thinking about how differently people use email:

Deleters trash everything they don’t need anymore.

Sorters have labels or folders where they can file messages away.

Archivists save everything, but not in an organized way.

Hoarders don’t even bother to archive, they just let messages fall off the 1st page of inbox, into the abyss.

And don’t forget about the manic people who use their inbox as a to do list or subscribe to the Inbox Zero method.

Somehow, Gmail manages to work for all these people. There are enough options that if you want a very complex way to process messages, it works. But you can also leave the options at default and let messages languish, if that’s the way you operate.

In that sense, there’s nothing quite like Gmail. It gracefully straddles the line between simplicity and complexity. Facebook keeps failing at privacy, either choosing the wrong defaults or making it too difficult to change settings. Google Reader doesn’t offer enough customization options (so that plugins like Better GReader need to fill the void).

Then there’s Twitter. I haven’t done the research, but I’d bet there are more Twitter clients than for any other web app. Does anybody use the basic Twitter page? No! Because it sucks! People use Twitter differently, and each Twitter client caters to a different usage type. (Do you read all tweets, or just the most recent 10? Do you try to have conversations? Do you use it mainly to promote something? Do you have more than one account? Do you use lists?)

I dream of the day when everything is so easy to use, intuitive, and customizable as Gmail. In the meantime, Priority Inbox has appeared, so I'm going to go play with that. Any ideas to improve it?

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