Email usability

Discussion articles

  • Confirmation Email, Automated Customer Service Email, and Transactional Messages
    "Transactional email can be a website's customer service ambassador, but messages must first survive a ruthless selection process in the user's in-box. Differentiating your message from spam is thus the first duty of email design."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • Bush vs Kerry: Email newsletters rated
    "Both candidates for president of the United States offer email newsletters with much good content to excite supporters, but miserable subscription interfaces and several other usability problems."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • Email newsletters pick up where websites leave off
    "Users have highly emotional reactions to newsletters which feel much more personal than websites. In usability testing, success rates were high for subscribe and unsubscribe tasks, but users were frustrated by newsletters that demanded too much of their time."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • Email newsletters: surviving inbox congestion
    "Newsletter usability has increased since our last study, but the competition for users' attention has also grown with the ever-increasing glut of information."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • Newsletter usability: can a professional publisher do better?
    "The Washington Post's email newsletter earns a high usability score. It's particularly good at setting users' expectations before they subscribe, though the unsubscribe interface has some problems."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • Targeted email newsletters show continued strength
    "E-newsletters that are informative, convenient, and timely are often preferred over other media. However, a new study found that only 11% of newsletters were read thoroughly, so layout and content scannability are paramount."
    (Jakob Nielsen - Alertbox)

  • The information architecture of email
    "At least several times a year, I try (I really do) to set up folders to sort my email. I am an information architect, after all. Setting up folders is, according to my job description, my area of expertise. Actually, I suck at setting up folders for email. Gmail is Google’s foray into the free email market, and attempts to address these inherent limitations. Gmail revealed to me my email behaviour--something I hadn’t previously given much thought."
    (Dan Brown - Boxes and Arrows)

Research articles

  • Lessons from the ReMail prototypes
    "Electronic mail has become the most widely-used application for business productivity and communication, yet many people are frustrated with their email. Though email usage has changed, our email clients largely have not. In this paper, we describe a prototype email client developed out of a multi-year iterative design process aimed at providing those who "live in their email" with an improved, integrated email experience. We highlight innovative features and describe the user trials for each version of the prototype with resulting modifications. Finally, we discuss how these studies have recast our understanding of the email “habitat” and user needs."
    (Daniel Guren, Steven L Rohall, Suzanne Minassian, Bernard Kerr, Paul Moody, Bob Stachel, Martin Wattenberg, Eric Wilcox - IBM Watson Research Center)