How to build a better email experience
Answered => “What is the future of email as far as business communication is concerned?” on Quora.
=> My answer…
Will there continue to be a need for basic and direct synchronous communication? Yes, of course there will be.
Will the general nature of that message packet change? I suppose it’s possible but it seems unlikely. There’s the message and there are attachments, done. For the most part, an email is exactly what it claims to be, an electronic version of (snail) mail. Email is the defacto ubiquitous simple communications protocol. It’s going to take a lot to dethrone that.
However, might the interface and User Experience change? Yes, one would hope so. While the protocol and interaction are perceived as synonymous, that is not necessarily the case. It’s as if every written letter should be read under a lamp with a 60 watt bulb and then that lettter be stored in a shoe box, and only a shoe box. This would be funny if it was weren’t sad but true.
So where is the opportunity if the protocol isn’t going to change? And perhaps also the interface needs to remain at least somewhat familiar?
The opportunity to move beyond the current archaic system is to add a layer unseen by the end user to the UX that is for recognition of context as well as filtering.
Seriously, does everything really have to come into one folder? At the same time? From it doesn’t matter who it’s from? Yes, I know there are filters and tags that can be set up manually but that hardly seems state of the “voice recognition” and text parsing art.
A computer can beat a Jeopardy champion but my in-boxes still look like a hurricane hit them. Where’s the progress? Fixing email seems to be up there with the common cold…no matter how many try, no matter how hard they try, it can’t be cured. And of course, there’s the issue of one-to-one vs collaborative group communications. That too can be viewed as context and filter, yes?
I’m not going to be a fool and try to predict the form it will take but I will say that in the future “email” will facilitate and enhance the communication experience, not just enable it.