I will admit that I am an avid gmail user. I will also admit that I swear by everything that Google does, for the most part. But I think that everyone that tries out the Priority Inbox will agree it is a gift from the Gods.
I’ve been using it for only a day and I already feel, somehow, more accomplished after viewing the prioritized emails.
In terms of HCI guidelines, this new feature fits the 8 golden rules very well. The feature is consistent in terms of color scheme and general layout of each message in the inbox. It is quick and easy to switch from priority inbox to the general inbox, just as before all a user needs to do is chose the link on the left and the layout shifts accordingly. This also handles feedback. A user knows when they are in their priority inbox versus the regular inbox as the link highlights and the layout changes. If a message is not a priority and should be, the user can select a wireframe “priority” icon in the inbox, continuing the labels metaphor, and the message will move to the “Important and unread” portion of the inbox. Notifying the user that it is now a priority and the system makes note of that for future sorting. When a user is done reading all the important messages, the priority section of the inbox shows a message: “Woohoo! You’ve read all the important messages in your inbox.” Yielding closure for the user in a cute, playful, and unobtrusive way.
I have found that reading my mail has become easier and faster, as the sorting process doesn’t take as long anymore. It’s surprising to me that this feature isn’t available in Yahoo! or Hotmail or even Outlook.
Cheers to Google 🙂