Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why I don’t like Outlook: Reason #122 – Folder Display

I am forced to use Outlook at work.  There are many reasons I don’t like this, including the fact that it doesn’t comply with normal email standards, and I cannot check my mail through my chosen client. 

Due to some silly rules, when off campus I cannot even use the Outlook client, but instead must use the web interface.  The web interface does not work with Firefox, of course. 

Take a quick look at the way it presents the folders:

hunt for the inbox

What do you see first?  There is a very unhelpful ‘popout’ effect going on with this list, even at the reduced size seen here.  The two least important folders are in bold with coloured numbers beside them: deleted and junk.  I have to hunt for the inbox in alphabetical order. 

Granted, my inbox is actually empty (yay!) so that’s why it isn’t bold, but it is so critical, it should be right at the top.  I hear often from colleagues about the wonderful usability labs at Microsoft.  They brag about the ability to recruit and test with ‘real people’ instead of the undergrads us in academia are often forced to use.  However, it doesn’t seem to help them solve basic usability issues like this.