The re-inventors: Hotmail
June 5, 2010
Work-hard, Team & Re-invent
There have been a lot of complaints about Hotmail. such as the noted post Hotmail vs Gmail.
With the post from Dick Craddock, the Group Program Manager for Windows Live Hotmail, it seems Hotmail wants to re-invent the Hotmail. The main points of invention are
(1) easy to read your interested mails — mainly focus on user usability
(2) easy to share your mail attachments — easy switch between different computers
(3) able to use hotmail on the phone — more and more people check mail on the phone instead of computer
Dick Craddock seems to brain storm quite amount lately for preparing the re-invention of Hotmail. He compared the differences between mail, chat, and social networking. The conclusion he got is that Email is still a major tool we are using today. Another interesting post also from him described that over 50% of users delete their mails right away after reading the income mail. Do you think you also delete your Email after reading?
The third post from Mike Schackwitz, the Program Manager, Windows Live Hotmail team, which is in the same team as Dick Craddock, pointed out some impressive usability research methods, which include
- Quantitative surveys
- Field trips
- in-person focus groups
- Fast turn-around panels
- Direct feedback
- Tracking peer-to-peer recommendations
- Internal beta testing
- External beta testing
The methods used by the team are quite extensive. However, if they can include some more measures for the user interface design. It would possibly can help to improve the always-similar Hotmail user interface.
The team is also working on the spam control, a major complain of Hotmail. Dick Craddock gave a pretty thorough analysis of spam control. Krish Vitaldevara,Senior Program Manager, Windows Live Hotmail, also wrote a great article describing the detailed techniques used in the new version of Hotmail.
- More advanced IP and content filtering
- Spammer infrastructure detection and destruction
- Time-traveling filters
- Personalized spam filtering
The smart screen IP spam filtering algorithms applied in Hotmail are simple but effective methods. There are also many other spam filtering methods, such as Bayesian statistics methods, memory based methods, key-word based anti-spam methods.
Even with all these promising features, there is still a concern of the user adoption of the new Hotmail. The main reason for people to fail to switch from one Webmail to another Webmail is not solely because of the Webmail technology. Very often, it is the inconvenience involved in this process stopping users from switching Webmails. For example, if one user registered an account in the popular social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Myspace with one mail address. It is very hard for this user to switch his/her principal mail address to another mail address. How to solve the user adoption issue is very much beyond of the Hotmail team’s control. There are multiple factors involved in the technology adoption. Many of those factors are in a macro-scale, which are often regulated by a company rather than by a team within the company.