I read that Google is going to modify Gmail so that users can choose to not use the threaded Conversation View. Since it’s beginning, Gmail has threaded conversations together so it’s easy to see all my communication on each “thread” or “subject line”. However, that is not the chronological (sorted by date) way that Outlook and many other email programs tend to show messages.
Google has pushed hard and held firm to the “new way” of threaded conversations rather than chronology.
But they have “thrown in the towel” and will offer users a choice.
This isn’t the first innovation of Gmail that Google had to adapt to more traditional users’ expectations. Remember the folders vs labels war of a year or two ago? Gmail’s original author staunchly refused to provide folders, wanting to help people adapt to the much more flexible labels idea. But after a couple of years of users’ complaints, Gmail added folders.
What does this have to do with us? I’m glad you asked.
I think it’s important to push the technology envelope with innovative advances. But most people are not early adopters, and if you want many people to use your tools, you need to make evolutionary changes rather than revolutionary changes. It must be easy for people to take a small step in using your tool rather than a large step. You can more effectively introduce a new way to work by advancing in a series of small steps rather than large jumps.
Software designers in Campus Crusade: Take note! Stay connected to your users. We’re about advancing the mission more than advancing the technology.
What do you think?