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?
This link via Reddit to a page on Google’s site for GMail shows why I love Gmail so much. More than 70% of mail to hit the GMail system is SPAM. That’s a lot.
What’s amazing is that less than 1% of it gets through to a user’s Inbox. I can definitely see this in what hits my account. Using GMail for all of my emailing needs (I have 10+ accounts set up in GMail), I definitely get my share of SPAM. Especially to a couple of accounts I designate for use when I think I’ll get spammed. What’s great about this is that all of my email gets filtered and flagged by Google so I don’t have to worry about explicit SPAM messages for stuff I don’t care about. The one downside? Well, Google knows a lot about me. But so does the U.S. Government…
I read in another blog post the other day (I don’t recall where) that most people don’t realize when the bookmark Google applications, they aren’t secure by default. Even is you go to http://www.gmail.com/, GMail won’t redirect to the secure version. It will just serve your mail over the unsecure connection. The article went on to mention if you’re in GMail for instance, and open Google Docs, the Google Docs link won’t be secure either. This allows the information to be unencrypted as it goes over the wire. Thinking of this again this morning, I realized my bookmark for GMail was indeed insecure. So I changed the link from http:// to https://. The article also said that if you open other apps from GMail even on a secure connection they new window/tab won’t be secure, so you should have secure bookmarks for each app. I found this to not be the case. If your Gmail connection is secure via HTTPS and you open Google Docs or Google Calendar, that link will be secure as well. Just a little tip for all you Google app users out there!
We recently switched to using an in house application for sending our campaign newsletters for one of our websites. It turned out that the new SMTP servers we were using weren’t trusted by email services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. as being valid sources of email messages. In come SPF, the Sender Policy Framework which these services use to determine if mail is coming from trusted domains for the sender. So, we had our hosting provider jack in some TXT DNS records for us that would allow our new SMTP servers to be trusted by SPF.
I figured all would be well and good. Email through these servers wouldn’t end up in a Gmail account’s spam folder. Not so. Apparently Gmail cache’s these records for a certain period of time, which I’m unaware of the length of. A nice post from Chris Linfoot gave me a little more insight into what might be going on. He mentioned in a my reply to his post that Google may indeed have not refreshed the cached record to my TXT SPF answer. Beyond that, Gmail may even consider my messages spam even if the messages pass SPF. Apparently Google doesn’t really use SPF messages to determine what really is spam and what isn’t. Interesting. My guess is they use it somehow in trying to figure out what is spam and what isn’t, but they don’t use it as the general rule of thumb for what should be spam. Its just one of their metrics.
Recently, on my Windows machine at work, I’ve noticed Gmail being super slow. I hadn’t noticed this on my MacBook using Firefox or Safari. I had found a post here about this very issue and another one here about speeding Firefox up, but there were no real solutions. I’m wondering if Gmail has changed something recently or if there’s an issue with Firefox? I know I’m very tempted to just use my MacBook now for email since its not such a slug. If anyone has ideas behind this or even solutions, I know I’d like to here about them!