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There’s a Lot to Love About Gmail’s New Design, But Google Overlooked This One Critical Mistake

Never forget the little things.

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BY Tom Popomaronis - 26 Apr 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you aren't already aware, Google just refreshed the design of their beloved Gmail, and it's a really solid improvement. With 1.4 billion users of the email platform, to say that this redesign was a massive undertaking is an understatement--the magnitude of the roll-out is intense.

And before we dive in, if you want to opt-in to the new design, you need to sign into your personal Gmail account and click the 'settings' gear icon at the top right. Once you click it, you should see a "Try the New Gmail" button and viola, you're good to go.

There's a lot to be excited about, but there's something simple they overlooked, which could result in a bit of frustration by the eager early adopter crowd.

What I Love

It's worth noting that I'm a 'I have a tool for everything' kind of guy. For note taking, it's Evernote, Dropbox Paper, or good ol' fashioned notepad, depending on the flavor of the meeting. The first thing I love about the refresh is their built-in sidebar with Google Keep integrated. Why does this matter? It 'keeps' you contained within the Gmail platform without having the need to open another app. Where I'm sure I'm not going to rush to Gmail the next time I need to take notes, it's going to be an interesting evolution in Gmail adoption, for sure. It's an A+ feature that I expect will go a long way.

Along the same lines, I can't tell you how many 'to-do' platforms/apps I have because I've lost count (sounds counterintuitive, I know). Just like Google Keep, they have implemented a native 'to-do' list to keep you more organized. I'm not a skeptic at all and see myself being a heavy user. Now, a real 'nice to have' would be enabling e-mail specific 'to-do's' and if you're reading a particular e-mail that has a specific task, it would add a great organizational layer.

The Miss

I'm going to caveat this with a reminder that I'm a Product Manager by trade. With a redesign of this magnitude, I have high expectations--expectations that with the overhaul comes streamlined process, less clicks, and clutter. That said, if you want to opt-in to the new design with your company Gmail, I'm sorry to say that you can't do it with the click of a button. You'll need to contact your Google Administrator (whoever has admin access at your company) and ask them turn it on (which isn't an easy task). This was borne out of the mutual excitement my boss and I shared over the redesign, but collectively, we couldn't find an option to enable company-wide.

Think this sounds trivial? There are well over 50 million company accounts (that data is from 2013, mind you). The problem I have here is the unnecessary friction it causes and the time-waste with employees searching how to enable it (#guilty). For medium-sized organizations, I feel bad for their G Suite administrator because of the inbound requests they'll be getting. You now have hundreds/thousands of people trying to figure out who their administrator is in the first place followed by relentless spam.

The thing is, It's something that could have been easily avoided.

What Google Should Have Done

It's simple. Similar to the 'opt-in' process on your personal account, Google should have had a button that says, "Request the New Gmail with Your Administrator". Then, one of two things could happen: (1) the administrator gets a standard e-mail with a link included on how to enable or (2) a notification the next time the administrator signs in.

Look, I'm beyond floored about the redesign. It's sleek, minimal, and long overdue. However, the modern-day bar is high and as are my expectations for Google.

And to Google: I won't be mad if you can fast-track that button request. My organization really wants this refresh. Please and thank you.


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