How small user interface changes have big consequences for users…

I am a huge Google fan. I love my gmail account and use it every day. I realize it’s being developed as a work in progress. But I thought that the two small changes they made recently having big consequences for me was an interesting study.

They tout that you never have to delete emails; you can archive everything and you do get a whopping 2686 MB to store your email. But I am a heavy email group user and I don’t really need to save the hundreds of emails I get a day. So I quickly learned that I could delete them, and to do so I had to check the checkbox and then, from the “More Actions” drop-down, select “Move to Trash.”

A few weeks ago, probably responding to user feedback, they changed the language on that link to say “Delete.” It really threw me off. It took an entire day (light years in internet time) for me to adjust and easily find the menu item I wanted.

Today they took a bigger leap – they removed the “Delete” choice from the drop-down box, moving it outside to the menu bar and giving it its own button — conveniently labeled “Delete” — right next to the “Report Spam” button.

While I applaud the change because, in reality, the Delete button needs to be much more accessible in an email program (even if there is tons of space for archiving or saving), it was very abrupt. No notification, no quick interrupt on my first log in to say “We heard you and…” I would have appreciated that. Now, I keep adding a star to everything instead of deleting it. I’m hopelessly frustrated.

Tomorrow I will have adjusted and all will be well. But a little bit of a “heads up” might be a nice gesture next time they make a seemingly small change to the user interface.

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