It looks like the Google’s Gmail team have revised their user guidance on deleting email. The delete action has now moved from the drop-down of possible user actions, to its own button over your view pane. In my opinion, the change signifies that GMail has stopped trying to educate users to archive all their email. Perhaps they found it was silly to keep those daily stock ticker notifications of their own stock wildly fluctuating, archived in their Inbox.
There is a lesson somewhere here for me. The lesson is not that you cannot educate your users into behaving differently; the lesson is – you have to give your users what they want! If they want to delete their old email, do not fight it by obscuring the delete button into a drop-down.
If your reading this and going “old news”, you have to forgive me for being so slow to catch on. I was trying out different locale’s on GMail and it seems the new web features were not available to me on English, UK. I thought it was a bit odd to tie the user selected Locale in with the actual regional deployment features (I might be wrong about this). I thought they would use my registered location (US) and give me the new features anyway. Then again, the new features just might not have been localized yet 🙂 a common problem with all web applications.
Related: Just recently, Guy Kawasaki talked about trying to simply “Sell”, instead of trying to enable “Buying” – “The Art of Rainmaking“. I thought this was very related. I feel, in the long run, Google’s GMail will be remembered more than Hotmail will. They were the first to realise the potential of giving away very large Inbox’s to their users in return for the right to show them targeted ads. I thought that that was a very smart move on their part. At that time, other email providers were struggling to bring users on board with paid email models. Perhaps somewhere down the line GMail folks decided that they would convince their users to stop deleting messages, which would be very beneficial to them. The basic premise behind that thought is, the more email the user stores, the more precise the advertising. While GMail did find the market – they couldn’t stop users from deleting their messages, atleast I did not stop doing so. At this point its useful to quote directly from Guy’s website,
Many companies freak out when unintended customers buy their product. Many companies also freak out when intended customers buy their product but use it in unintended ways. Don’t be proud. Take the money.