A quick crit of HEY email

HEY.com is a new email service by Basecamp.

It’s great, I love it.

But it’s got a fair amount to improve on which are some pretty surprising oversights.

So I thought I‘d jot down some notes here – maybe the peeps at HEY will see this and act.

# 1. It’s not accessible

HEY isn’t very accessible. I haven’t done a proper audit but here’s some things I spotted.

  1. It doesn’t work very well when JavaScript isn’t available. This is a shame because they do a fair chunk of rendering on the server which is great, but not enough to show users an actual email.
  2. When tabbing through the page, focus is lost and so you don’t know where you are.
  3. The keyboard shortcuts are cool but I don’t think they’ll work very well for screen reader users who shouldn’t have to learn custom shortcuts to move around the UI.

All of these things are really easy to fix.

# 2. There’s no way to sort different emails by the same email address

HEY lets you put email into 3 buckets: the ‘imbox’, ‘the feed’ and ‘paper trail’. This is brilliant. But it does it based on the email address.

So if you get some emails that are marketing and some that are directly from that person, from the same address then really I‘m forced to keep the marketing email in the imbox.

The same goes for emails in the paper trail.

# 3. It’s very easy to forget about the feed and paper trail

This is for 2 reasons:

  1. They’re second class citizens and completely out of view. There’s no notification of way for me to know that I’ve received emails in these sections.
  2. The HEY menu is basically a fancy looking hamburger menu. This means that as much as I know those links are there, it’s a suprisingly big barrier to getting into this sections.

This is really bad and puts the onus on users to remember to check these things on a regular basis. This is exacerbated by issue (2) above.

# 4. The feed items don’t get read and they’re difficult to scan

The feed is a great idea for a bucket but it would be so much better off it worked and looked like the imbox.

Just show users new and seen marketing emails. These are easy to scan and they disappear once I’ve read them.

# 5. They call the ‘inbox’ the ‘imbox’

This is not a typo but it’s not good. Just call it inbox. Plain english is good. You need a really good reason not to keep things simple. And despite the sales pitch, I don’t think it’s a good enough reason.