After Notes 8 was released, we began hearing that users occasionallydidn’t notice important items (like meeting invitations) in their Inbox.
But why? Was itbecause the icons were too small? Was itbecause they were too similar to each other? Or could we improve scanning by removing icons for mail messages thathad already been read? To find out, weconducted a timed experiment: 24participants found target items on 72 Inbox screens that differed from eachother in the icon size, distinctiveness, and whether or not icons were includedfor read messages. We also asked theseparticipants and several other groups of customers which designs theypreferred.
Results showed that we could greatly improve scanning bymaking the icons more distinctive from each other. Making the icons bigger (within ourconstraints) didn’t help. Usersstrongly preferred eliminating the icons for already-read mail messages.
So, in Notes 8.5 you will see an Inbox that’s easier toscan, with 10 improved icons for mail message types. The biggest changes are removing the icon forread mail and using a blue star for unread mail. We also adjusted meeting workflow items sothat the most time-dependent ones (e.g., new invitation, reschedules,cancellations) stand out and those that are not so time-dependant (e.g., aninvitee has accepted your meeting) are subtler. No other changes were made to the icon grid.
Icons are a very tricky, visible part of the userexperience, so Denise Shaw, our visual designer, drew and redrew them moretimes than she can count until we were all satisfied. Now those of us using the new icons find thatwe need a new excuse for missing meetings!
Margo Ezekiel (Notes User Experience Designer) and Betsy Comstock (Lead Notes User Studies Team)