Tag Archives: email

Bebo Design feedbuner forwards Gmail how-to HTML invitations listserv mailing list Mozilla Online News Outlook social networking Thunderbird troubleshooting Usability user interface design user interface design usability

Bebo.com and Usable Social Networking Invite Systems

Upside-down Jellyfish for an upside-down invite system An apology to anyone who got an unwanted invite to social networking site Bebo.

I tend to join and try out a lot of social apps as I run into them. I was signing up for Bebo when I got to the part of the process where you add friends to your account. First I saw the section I wanted, “Friends found on Bebo who are in your address book:

Next, there’s a section, “Friends of friends on Bebo who you MAY know:” I started down this list but noticed many duplicates from the first list. Normally this kind of duplication is a minor usability issue, since it wastes some screen real estate and a small amount of user attention. But in this case the duplicates were so prevalent I scrolled back to the top and clicked the “Add Friends” button.

Had I kept scrolling, I would have seen the “Invite friends to Bebo from your address book:” section with every email address checked by default.

Every social networking site has a feature like this, and it fuels the exponential growth that some of these sites experience. But sending an in-site friend invite is very different from sending a email invite. Most of us have email contacts who fall into various categories – friends, co-workers, people we’ve bought stuff from, former bosses, friends’ parents, etc. Very few people would want to actually send out invites to every single email address in their address book, so that should never be the default behavior.

So, yeah, sorry for the Bebo invite spam.

In other news, I just sent out over 3300 emails to people who voted in the baby name poll and left their email address.

Tricky little issue in Gmail – how do you find the original sender of a forward?

DSCN9755 I ran across a confusing issue in Gmail and I’d like to share what I did to resolve it.  It seems that Gmail won’t show you the original sender of a forwarded email by default in many cases.  Here’s how I found the issue and what I did to correct it.

My wife and I have a shared blog that automatically sends out updates to subscribers via Feedburner.  Feedburner is a great service if you have a blog, and you can use it to subscribe to my feed and get updates when I write on this blog as well.

When friends and family reply to an email from Feedburner, it goes to my email address and I need to forward it to my wife so she can read it too.  I use Mozilla Thunderbird as my email client so it’s easy to set up a filter to do it automatically (look under Tools –> Message Filters).  But when the forwarded email showed up in my wife’s Gmail inbox, it showed only me as the sender – with no mention of the original sender, so she couldn’t tell who was replying to our blog.

Gmail does let you see the original full text of the message – there’s a little down arrow next to Reply with a menu that includes “show original.”  Email headers are hardly user-friendly, though, so that’s not a very good solution.

It turns out that Gmail shows the name of the forwarder, not the name of the original sender, on forwards that are sent as an attachment.  If the forward was sent inline it’s easy to see the original sender in the body of the mail.  By default, Thunderbird sends forwards as attachments and I think Outlook has a similar default… in any event this is pretty common behavior.

To fix it from my end I went in Thunderbird, to Tools-> Options and selected the Composition icon.  Under the General tab, I changed Forward Messages to “Inline.”  This does the trick.

It would be nice, however, if Gmail made this a little more apparent in the user interface.  Maybe saying something like “[forwarder name] forwarding from [original sender name].”  Or it could be worked into the way conversations are viewed as threads.

This may not be a very common issue, so it might not warrant a change to Gmail, but it’s a small enough usability tweak that it might be worth it.  Hopefully you found this post helpful.

Weekly listserv journal – HTML in email

I hate html in emails, and I guess Outlook 2003 now blocks it by default (because otherwise it would spread viruses, which all previous versions of Outlook have been experts at).  Someone brought up this issue from a designer’s point of view.  A lot of the newsletters that people actually signed up for were being bounced back.  Some people agreed with me that even if readers can turn the blocking off, would they want to?  Journalists can track traffic with html newsletters, but users don’t care about that.

As part of a class project I’ve been reading the Online-News mailing list and responding to some of the issues and discussion brought up there.