GMail Usability Issue – Spam/Delete Buttons

I work on web applications every day and usability is a huge issue, mostly because you’re dealing with such a diverse set of users. The same goes for any web application out there. Something about GMail has been nagging me for a while now, and I just lost my proverbial #$@! over it this afternoon. Whoever over at Google decided that it was a good idea to put the “Report Spam” button exactly to the right of the “Archive” button? I’m guessing the same person that though putting “Delete” next to “Report Spam”. The issue I have here is that when I’m on cruise control working on my computer, I sometimes inadvertently click the Report Spam button when trying to Archive a message. Yeah, I should probably slow down a bit and it wouldn’t happen, but it does. So my biggest question to Google is that are these buttons needed right next to each other? Honestly there is no relationship between “Archive”, “Report Spam”, and “Delete”. They do completely different things and if you don’t catch a mistake, you might lose messages forever. My suggestion to Google is this; put “Archive” and “Report Spam” all the way to the right of the menu bar.

My general rule of thinking here is that “Archive”, “Labels”, “Actions” all mean you want to keep a message and move it somewhere else. “Delete” and “Report Spam” are get this message outta here forever types of actions. So, Google, switch this up so we don’t accidentally screw up our Inbox. Please? Pretty Please? With sugar on top?

5 thoughts on “GMail Usability Issue – Spam/Delete Buttons

  1. Arrogant Software

    Google is all about being proud and arrogant about what you (they) can invent (regarding software), and of course MONEY, not about usability, flexibility or customization. Google products have scarce UI behavior options, period. Oh, sure there’s plenty of nifty color choices (we had that in the 90s) and nifty fancy labs (useless) “inventions” but basic UI customization is scarce, period.

  2. Bill

    Well, I think the scarce UI behavior options are all about trying to keep things as clean and simple as possible. I find that in itself a good thing. However, two buttons like Archive and Report Spam adjacent to each other is a little silly. Imagine if Cancel buttons directly abutted Ok buttons. People would probably click the wrong button half the time. So in this case, I agree that these buttons should be spaced apart. But in all, I like Google’s applications (sometimes not the information they garner about me by my use of them however).

  3. Anonymous

    I customize the gmail interface with firefox but I haven’t moved the spam/delete buttons yet. They fold-up and group all kinds of *frequent* actions that you DON’T want them to group, then there’s an entire inch of wasted screen space near the top with “Gmail Calendar Documents Photos Reader Web more” at the top which I never use, and above and below the gmail logo / search line all of which could be grouped or hidden until you want it – unless of course your company is all about marketing not usability. Doesn’t google have enough money? Can’t they back-off the marketing-only-UI-push for awhile? Since when is user customization bad – you code a page called Advanced UI Customization and place a line at the top that says don’t change this unless you know what you’re doing. They’ve spent a million person-hours over the past 10 years to make the UI “fancy” and more annoying every 14 months, but zero work on allowing the user to generously customize the look and feel. Why is user UI customization a bad thing? Are you and google afraid that idiot users are going to get the UI in a confused state? If THAT’S possible then the customization functionality (that doesn’t yet exist) wasn’t designed right. Very few UI options and they turn all their new annoyances on by default otherwise no-one would use them.

  4. Lisa

    Apparently this was not changed. Granted it’s free to use but what good is it if they keep changing it without asking first and not fixing what is annoying?

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