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Keep 'Em Moving

03 Feb 2005 by Matthew Linderman

It’s nice to see more sites keeping the flow going instead of just leaving people at dead ends (or requiring an extra step to keep moving).

Example 1: Email Messages

What’s the most common action taken after receiving an email? A reply. Yet email pages at Earthlink’s webmail site, and most other email services, usually require you to click through to another page to send a reply.

Gmail, on the other hand, wisely offers a reply box right at the bottom of each received email:

Example 2: Send This Article

After you “email this article” at a site, you usually wind up with a lonely confirmation message like this one from the Chicago Tribune:

Why not offer some more guidance? In addition to a confirmation message, the NY Times now offers links to the top 5 most emailed articles. This nice bit of relevant, contextual information helps keep people moving forward:

11 comments so far (Post a Comment)

03 Feb 2005 | JD said...

Btw, applying 'Keep 'em Moving' principle to TadaList, why not display text box to add new entry whenever someone is viewing a 'list'. This will eliminate the need of the clicking on 'Add another item'. [Btw it works correctly when I have already clicked on 'Add another item' once.] Also, how about placing the text box on top of list instead of at bottom?


03 Feb 2005 | Don Schenck said...

I just had an "aha" moment!

I was just over at the Cigar Aficionado forum, posting some pictures of me and some lovely ladies, and it occured to me:

When you log in to the site, you can choose to have the system remember your login. Well ... how about having that option at any time? In other words, I log in to a site, look around, and say "Hey, self ... I'd like to visit here again, it's pretty cool, and I don't want to have to remember my user id and password every time". So you click the "Log Out but Remember Me" button.

Just a thought.

(Oh, and in case you're wondering about the lovely ladies, just check my blog)

03 Feb 2005 | anon said...

what a fag

03 Feb 2005 | Don Schenck said...

Ha ha nice comment, "anon".

Along the same lines of my idea, I wish there was a way to create a permanent cookie. Or at least cookies that wouldn't be deleted without a warning.

03 Feb 2005 | Dan said...

Don: That's a good idea. That's something I've noticed but never actually noticed.

Matthew: The reason that GMail is the only web-based e-mail system that has this feature (don't quote me on the use of the word "only" in that claim) is because users haven't demanded it.

Think about it... you see the same thing with the auto industry. Have you noticed that all of the minivans nowadays have these crazy backseats that can fold in a million different ways and tuck themselves into the floor and shit? There was no groundbreaking technological advance that led to these features, it was a bunch of consumers collectively shouting, "Hey, these backseats are a bitch. Can you make them fold up and go away more easily?"

That's why in so many industries, the group with the most poorly utilized power and leverance is the consumer, especially in a medium as predominantly consumer-based as the Internet.

03 Feb 2005 | Michael said...


The german email provider has this feature for several months now. I don't know who was first and I don't care, but it is very useful.


03 Feb 2005 | Don Schenck said...

Dan ... can I still be a "fag"? *laugh*

I'm stunned. I actually contributed an idea here that someone considered "good".

I'm having a cigar on the way home to celebrate!

(No ... wait ... I always have a cigar on the way home. D'oh!)

03 Feb 2005 | sloan said...

Web applications fall into the same traps that traditional software does. The idea of a preview pane for email took some time to develop. The penalty of useless alerts and unnecessary steps is only magnified when dealing with such long load times as page downloads. iFrames, layers, and on demand downloading are helping. I am no web guru, so correct me if this exists, but wouldn't it be beneficial to prioritize the downloading of your content on a page. Can you force visible layers to download first and render BEFORE non-visible or do you just have to use JavaScript or whatever to do it?

I think we all take the way things are today as pseudo-laws and it is difficult to analyze the best case for usability based on the current state. It often helps to forget what the current state of something like email looks like and start from the beginning, with the problem you are solving. It always strikes my clients as odd that I want to take 3 steps back and analyze what the problem is that they are trying to solve instead of just FIXING what they already have. It looks like there are some people at Google working hard on that front... now to fix their Picasa application!

04 Feb 2005 | Paul said...

I note that in Gmail even though the reply box is there at the bottom, when you click in it to enter some text it takes you to a different 'reply editing screen'. So it's really just a big reply button that looks like an editing field.

04 Feb 2005 | Jesper said...

I'm stunned that, in the Earthlink screenshot, the Delete button is in the left corner, while the Reply button is "mid-field" so to speak.

(way) More often than not, you'll want to reply and not delete, and clicking the wrong button can be devastating!

05 Feb 2005 | Nick said...

There's a 'quickreply' Thunderbird extension that allows for instant responses, but it's not as nice as GMail's, which as Paul noted, is basically a 'reveal layer' button in disguise. The big problem with GMail is that it encourages top-posting, but interlinear replies seem to be going the way of Usenet, alas...

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