Time for another long post from the Building Windows 8 Blog, this time its about the Windows 8 Mail app and Microsoft talk about the planning for the application and some of the common usage of mail apps. I like the Windows 8 Mail app even if its little fragile in the preview stage.
Get your self a coffee and checkout the blog post
When we started planning the email experience for Windows 8, our goal was to create an app that embodied the Metro style design principles. It needed to be fast and fluid, be great with touch and a keyboard and mouse, focus on your content, provide the right features at the right time, and fulfill our expectations of email on modern devices. Starting from scratch gave us an opportunity to carry forward the essential functions of an email app, while also designing features with a fresh eye and taking advantage of what Windows 8 offers uniquely.
How people use email today
At the start of our design process, we conducted research into how people use email today. Email has been around for decades. It’s changed a lot and so have our expectations.
Multiple email accounts are common. The average user has 2 to 3 email accounts. One is for work, one is personal, and another account might be used primarily for mailing lists and coupons, or isn’t used frequently, like an account from a school that you no longer attend.
We receive a lot of email. Our data shows that those who we would consider light email users receive more than about 180 messages a week, while heavy email users receive more than 2100 messages a week. These numbers are growing as more services come online and support newsletters, coupons, receipts, and other types of messages via email. We need to make it easy to quickly get through all your email.
Folders aren’t used that often. This is probably a surprise to many people who rely heavily on folders, which is a very common practice in many enterprise environments, and for enthusiasts. At some enterprises, users have up to 50 folders, while the majority of people using Exchange and Hotmail have far fewer folders. The right balance for Mail was to make folders easy to use, but not to optimize for 50+ folders and deeply-nested hierarchies.
Email is real-time. While email is often used for asynchronous communication, where you don’t expect an immediate response, more and more, the expectation is for an immediate, real-time response. After you sign up for a new service, you’re often told to expect an email immediately. We expect to be notified the instant a new email comes in and most people check their email frequently throughout the day or leave it running all day long so they can see every message as it comes in.
People expect consistency with mobile phone experiences. Many people are using their phones in conjunction with their PCs. In fact, they’re using their phones for triage, reading, and filing away of mail (among other things). The importance of consistency between your phone view and PC view of email are more important than ever. The use of standard protocols such as Exchange Active Sync as implemented in the Mail app are increasingly important, especially because this protocol allows for syncing of contacts and calendar, in addition to mail. (Don’t worry, support for other protocols, such as IMAP, are on the way.)
We took these trends into account as guiding principles as we began to consider how people would use the Mail app to manage their email, write messages, and stay up-to-date.