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Posts Tagged ‘Email’

The Problem With Gmail’s New Look – A Lack Of Color

November 11, 2011 2 comments

I know a bunch of people have written about the new look to Gmail since it was officially launched in the beginning of November (Google blogged about it here). Some people are complaining about the way it was reorganized or certain specific changes like losing text labels and turning them to graphics – most of which I agree with – but no one that I have seen has discussed the lack of color in the new Gmail and how that affects efficiency when composing an email.

What do I mean by this? Well take a look at the old Compose Email interface from Gmail previous to their change at the beginning of this month. When I am referring to the color I am not talking about the overall light blue coloring because while that’s nice and all, it seems to be a simple theme change that can still, I think, be achieved within Gmail. What I am referring to is the way that the highlight color icon has a ‘T’ with a yellow background and a small highlighter with a bright yellow tip. At a glance, I can immediately find this when I am composing an email because my eyes are immediately drawn to the bright yellow. Similarly, to the highlight option’s left is the Text Color option which has the same ‘T’ only next to it is a color palette of six different colors. Again, that makes sense logically and conveys the message of what the button does without any words AND the user’s eyes can quickly and easily find it. There is almost no learning curve or memorization required here – it just makes sense.

Now let’s look at the new Compose Email interface and look at those same exact buttons. You’ll notice that everything is in the exact same order as it used to be but the loss of color on the buttons makes a huge difference when trying to find specific options at a glance.

For some reason, someone at Gmail/Google decided that instead of having a ‘T’ on a yellow background it would make more sense to just put the T on a gray field. Next to it, is a picture of an ‘A’ which is underlined which somehow is supposed to tell me that it is the text color option. The only reason I can think of to switch the symbols themselves – never mind the lack of color – was to make it match the Microsoft Word buttons for the same option but even here Gmail’s designers did a halfway job.

Above, you can see the same buttons taken from Microsoft Word 2010 and while the Gmail Text Color option does match Word 2010’s in terms of formatting it only does so if we assume that everyone who is using Gmail/Word 2010 only sees in black and white. As well, if the point here was to copy the Microsoft buttons why did they only copy some of them and not go whole hog and copy them all? However, I must reiterate that the most important issue for me here is the complete lack of color. I am well aware that it is only taking me an extra couple of seconds per email to format things the way I want them formatted but the reasoning for just getting rid of all the colors – which are helpful visual cues – just eludes me.

Has anyone else found this to be annoying as well? Did I just bring something to your attention I shouldn’t have because now I’ve ruined it for you too? (If so sorry.) Or am I totally alone on this? Let me know!

As for Gmail – do you think you could give us the option to turn colors in the Compose Screen back on? That’d be swell!

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Dear RIM: Enough With These Tiny Email Attachment Size Limitations!

September 19, 2011 3 comments

 

Me with the @BlackBerryScene Team @ Yonge & St Clair Toronto after I won my 9800 Torch (that's what the card in my right hand is).

As my regular readers know, I use a BlackBerry Torch 9800 and I love it quite a bit. Heck, I’m using my Torch to write this post right now. I am a BBM addict and love the keyboard. But there are certain things about BlackBerry devices which are really, really starting to grind my gears. One of these is the email attachment size limitation both incoming and outgoing. The email size limitation on any BlackBerry running BlackBerry 6 Operating System (OS) or earlier – this means any BlackBerry which came out before the recently launched BlackBerry OS 7 devices – has a limit of 3 megabytes (MB) for the size of attachments that can be received and sent from a BlackBerry device. Even if your device is running the brand new OS 7 it only ups the limits to 11 MB.

As well, message content gets truncated (cut off) at 60 KB (kilobytes) with the older OSes. With OS 7 you are allowed 300 KB before it gets truncated. At first glance 60 KB sounds like it should be more than enough. After all, as each character is only 1 bit and there are 8 bits in a byte, 60 KB means you have (roughly) 60,000 bytes * 8 bits/byte = 480,000 characters. That works until you realize people send HTML based emails which take up A LOT more space.

These sizes are WAY too small for the second decade of the 21st Century Read more…

Marketing With Tact, What Not To Do

June 8, 2011 2 comments

It is that time of year again that every year I and millions of others like me are made to feel left out while others celebrate. You’d think that as a Jew and missing out on all the major Christian holidays most everyone celebrates I would be used to this sort of thing but this issue is entirely different. What is happening now that makes me feel left out and reminds me of something I don’t need reminding of? Father’s Day.

I don’t make a secret of the fact that my dad passed away almost a decade ago but at the same time I don’t shout it from the rooftops. I get on with my life every day and try and live for the most part unaffected by this loss…and you can insert the rest of what you expect me to say about it here because I can’t be bothered to write it.

 

What just annoyed me and spurned this post is receiving a marketing email reminding me that Father’s Day is coming up. It gave all those sappy lines encouraging me to buy their product only one thing…who the heck am I buying it for? Right, no one. Thanks for the reminder that my dad is dead, Company X.

Now I am not expecting the whole world to stop because I have experienced a loss that the majority of other people my age haven’t.

I don’t expect to not see ads for Father’s Day/see the day mentioned on TV, in magazines, on billboards, and in storefronts or to hear talk/ads for it on the radio. I am sure there will be a ton of posts all over the internet leading up to the big day and I wouldn’t expect anything less.

However, what I think we can all expect from marketers or advertisers who are sending out email blasts is at least the attempt to get us to fill out a poll with information about what is relevant to us when we sign up for these lists. I don’t need to receive an email at 1 AM to remind me that my dad is no longer amongst the living. Never mind the fact that these email blasts are more often glanced at and deleted so I have to wonder about the conversion rate from an email blast these days.

I am mildly surprised that we don’t have this option available to us more often than not. In this world which is growing more complex and bombarding us all with more and more stimuli on a constant basis I would think marketers and advertisers would be striving to make their messages more and more targeted and relevant to help cut through the noise. We are also living in a world where we are getting more and more Politically Correct (PC) every day. I would think that targeted marketing would be a very important part of targeted marketing. We should be trying to do our utmost NOT TO attempt to market Ash Wednesday to Jews, Hanukkah to Buddhists, Super Bowl Sunday to Buffalo Bills fans, Vesak to the Muslims, etc.

What I know right now is that this is one email list for which I will be hitting the unsubscribe button, post haste.

At least that’s my opinion on this. What do you think?

REVIEW: The Thank You Economy By @GaryVee & An Open Letter To Gary

March 28, 2011 6 comments

I just finished reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book called The Thank You Economy. Gary, or @garyvee as he is known on Twitter, describes himself in his Twitter bio as a guy who is all about:

Family 1st! but after that, Businessman, @winelibrary, @Vaynermedia, Author of @TYEbook and a dude that Loves the hustle (hard work), people and the @nyjets

His bio on his own personal website is uber long so I will just say he has accomplished a lot and if you’d like to read it, check it out here

On to the book. I really enjoyed reading it and if you are already interested in social media (I know Gary hates that word as he says in the book but that’s what the world at large calls it so we are sort of stuck with it now) and how it relates to business in the 21st Century I recommend reading this book. Anyone can learn from it, from students to CEOs (if they’re open to hearing about something new where the ROI [return on investment] is long-term). I finished the book’s back pages as I sat on the TTC subway today waiting for my 30 minute trip which got stretched into an hour somehow and while I waited I wrote an email to Gary as he encourages people to do in the book. I received a very nice response directing me to a number of contacts but none were – as far as I could tell – suited to my own little review of the book. Actually, I don’t know if I would call the email I wrote a review of the book so much as comments and suggestions for the book so I will also review it a bit.

The book is well written. I am given to understand that he had a ghost writer write it – although I do not know the level of involvement Stephanie Land had in the actual writing of the book I am going to assume that Gary is more the type of guy who paces around a room with energy and just reels of his thoughts in sequence and Ms Land wrote them down. He probably then read what she wrote when she translated his verbal gestalt into words on a page and approved it but nonetheless he didn’t, it seems, actually do the writing of the book. I read that he had a ghostwriter in the acknowledgements – ya I read those.

The book definitely brings out Gary’s passionate feelings on the matter of social media and is sort of a guidebook for all of us of the generation that is slowly but surely taking the reigns of business and the corporate world from the Baby Boomers – Gary was born in 1975 making him part of the tail end of Generation X. The book gives us a lot of great case studies and examples of successful businesses in the 21st Century where companies chose to use heart and pull customers in to their orbit and then keep them there. He also mentions companies that sort of did the job but then failed to follow through – such as one company that made quite the boom with some of their advertising and then just failed to keep up the conversation online afterward. He gives opinions based on his own life experiences and their results and really makes you feel as if you are listening to him talk as he goes through the different aspects of the Thank You Economy.

It’s all in all a great read, very easy to get through, understand, and a lot to relate to. It is broken up into very easy to digest bite size chunks because, as I am sure @GaryVee of all people know, these days we are bombarded (and bombard ourselves) with so much constant stimuli a book with uber-long chapters and sections becomes difficult to pick up and actually get through. The book is designed for reading when you have 10 minutes to site down with it or and hour to sit down with it and that’s great in my opinion. Read more…

The BCC Option In Your Email

July 2, 2010 1 comment

This post was updated & edited to include the cartoon from The Oatmeal (seen below) on January 5, 2011.

I recently got an email from a member of my shul (Jewish word for synagogue) who didn’t have a reason to know my personal email address as I’ve never emailed them and they’ve never emailed me before. The email was about the launching of their new business. Now while that email in of itself could be considered spam its content is NOT what this post is about.

This post is about people’s seeming lack of ability to use the BCC line instead of the TO line when sending a mass email. If you do not know what BCC means allow me to translate the abbreviation. It means “Blind Carbon Copy”. What this means is that every address you put in that line/box marked BCC is hidden from every other address you put in that box. I can only assume that this person who emailed me got my address from someone else who didn’t use the BCC and that is how your address spreads around the world.

That is also how your address gets to spammers and spyware mailing lists. Let me explain how that works. If one of the +150 people who were recipients of this email decide to hit the Forward button and send it to a bunch of their friends without using the BCC box and they further don’t take the time to delete my and all the other email addresses from the list at the beginning of the forwarded message my email address just got into another untold number of people I don’t know’s address books anywhere in the world. This is especially true if some of those people decide to repeat the forwarding process in the same manner. Now my email is out there and if one of those people gets a virus or spyware or is themselves a spammer guess who just made the list of people to email? Me and every other one of those +150 recipients of the original solicitous email. (Which, remember, was essentially spam in the first place).

To quote Wikipedia: “It is common practice to use the Bcc: field when addressing a very long list of recipients, or a list of recipients that should not (necessarily) know each other, e.g. in mailing lists.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_carbon_copy for more as it really does explain a lot about BCCing.

Maybe the problem is that people who aren’t technologically inclined and/or weren’t brought up using email simply don’t understand what they’re doing when they don’t use the BCC line and email en masse. I will try now to further explain it using more Baby Boomer/run of the mill technological concepts (as I jokingly did in a Twitter conversation – a tweetversation? – with @r_tania_n last night):
Would you want someone to start posting your phone number and address all around the world on walls in public places? Think about the guy from Lifelock who in commercials puts his Social Security Number on a cube van sidewall and has it driven around town. The reason the commercial makes a point is because usually this is info you don’t want everyone in the world to have. The same goes for your phone number(s). Sure most of our house lines and even lots of cell phones are in the phonebook and available on the internet in numerous places but we still don’t necessarily want people to have it stored in their address books (or written in their personal phonebook like my mom has kept for as long as I can remember near one of the phones in the house). This would be especially true if you knew telemarketers has webcams set up to rove the cities looking for phone numbers for them to call. There’s a reason countries have set up National Do Not Call Lists (American DNCL Canadian DNCL).

In conclusion please, people; please learn to use the BCC line & teach others who don’t know how to use it to use it too! (Or send them to this blog to teach them & get me more traffic).

[Above Picture via The Oatmeal “If You Do This In An Email I Hate You” Post here]

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