Category Archives: Email

Email usability (part 2)

The email usability crimes continue apace here. I received this in today’s inbox.

Email usability

The email was about two members of staff that are retiring. It seems a nice idea to highlight that two valued members of staff are leaving the organisation. But there are a few problems here.

  1. There is no summary about what the email is about, just attached documents.
  2. Why is the information about their retirement contained within a PDF? I can’t show you the PDF, but essentially it is text that could easily have been entered into the body of the email thus reducing the scannability of the message, the speed with which I can digest it and the size (Mb) of the communication.
  3. They inserted JPGs of both members of staff in the email.
  4. They included a print quality image of one of the staff members – 4Mb in all staff members inboxes!!!

Usability lessons

  1. Include a summary of what the email is about, especially if the main bulk of content is going to appear in an attached document.
  2. When referring to members of staff, why not link to their profile on the intranet rather than including bulky images in an email. This may encourage adoption of the intranet.
  3. Make content suitable for the medium through which it is being distributed. That means reduce the size of images!

I will have to find something else to write about or I’ll quickly be tagged as being the email usability guy – not the most exciting specialism!


Email usability

I arrived at work to find the following email (pixelated to protect the innocent below) in my inbox:


The problem being that I was so keen to look at and see the application, that I never got to the end of the email. I clicked on the link in the 5th paragraph and never read the 7th paragraph.

This simple issue caused me to reboot my machine 3 times (call me stupid but I thought it might help), disrupt 3 co-workers for help and grow increasingly negative and frustrated towards the product.

What usability lessons can we learn from my frustration?

  1. When writing an email don’t assume someone will read all of it before clicking off and doing something else.
  2. Place all warning/notes a link in very close proximity to the information they relate to (I am guessing this is an example of Rankin’s “locus of attention” in action).
  3. Don’t bug your co-workers until you’ve re-traced your steps (but it’s human nature isn’t!).