User Research for Email Project

In ITP, Project Development Studio, Thesis

I’ve placed a huge emphasis on user research for my email project given the sheer scope of the undertaking. From the digital product perspective, there is no product that is more convoluted and unruly as email and that’s why it’s been important for me to establish design constraints by talking to users. I took notes on some key sentiments and behaviors through my conversations and put it all together in an affinity diagram to uncover trends. The post-its or rows that have stickers on them means they’ve been identified as a re-occurring trends or are particularly interesting to me.


Affinity Diagrams

















[Click here] to see the questions I used throughout the user research process.


[Click here] to see the prototype I used to demonstrate my email concept. *Not all participants saw this exact version of the prototype.



User Response Archive


Chris M.Alex B.Matt C.Zeshan M.Aaron U.Mike W.Katie S.Mickey G.
For reading, Chris uses his mobile phone 70% of the time. Desktop 30%.Reads and writes mailnly on computer.On mobile, he reads about 80% of the time, 20% composes.On mobile, he reads 60% of the time, composes 40% of the time.Motivation for checking email is 80%work, 20% personalUses email 80% for work, 20% for personal.Checks her personal email when she wakes up and goes to sleep.Uses his mobile 90% of the time for email vs. Desktop 10%.
Uses email 80% of the time for work, 20% for personal.Uses mobile to vet his emails.Outisde of work, he uses his mobile 70% of the time to deal with is 80% work, 20% personalHowever ends up taking the same amount of actions ofr work and personalChecks email every 20 minutes.Checks personal once or twice otherwise.75% of email is work related.
Checks email once an hourWhne on mobile, he reads about 70% of the time, writes 30% of the time.Checks email in the morning and noon.Checks his newsletters in the morningchecks email based on motificationsChecks with notifications, scans the preview message.Checks her work email on mobile after she leaves the office, on commute, at night.While on mobile, reads about 75% of the time compared to composing.
Checks email in the morningChecks email when bored or procrastinating.Checks email based on notifications, as they come in.receives all the content he wasvia email newslettersOnly responds to very important messages on mobile.Mainly reads on mobile, checks for importance.
Uses his commute to deal with emailsƒ write emails that need to be done.Checks email in the morning.Uses mobile email a lot more now that he is tight on time.checks emails with notificationsWhen at work always has gmail open.
Has gmail open throughout the day.Checks emails with notifications, everytime phone buzes.Receives about 500 newsletters a day, needs to unsubscribe.For very personal things he doesn't use email, uses textPrefers to compose on desktop.
Reads newletters if he has time. They are mainly fashion(business), news and concerts.Reads very few immediately.Does have a collection of newsletters that he regularly checks, mainly bloggy type things.Checks personal email only once or twice a dayUses iOS mail app.
Uses iOS mail app, uses mailbox for notifications.Doesn't like composing on the phone.Uses the Gmail app.Has a few newsletters he checks, all others he deletes.Composes simple yes/no emails on mobile.
Uses mobile to do quick responses for light hearted things, otherwise, composes mainly on desktop.He receives news, article oriented newsletters and has established favorites.Uses a different app for every address
Uses email as drop box.
Uses gmail app.
Uses email for notes as well.


Chris M.Alex B.Matt C.Zeshan M.Aaron U.Mike W.Katie S.Mickey G.
No delete or archive, just reads email.He only archives, no folders.Doesn't archive, uses folders for organization.Archives, doesn't delete.Archives and uses search.Used to do folders but no archive and now is moving towards archive.Work gmail very organized, files everything in folders.No folders or archive.
Uses the unread marker as a means to see what he still has to deal with.Uses email as a central hub, To-Do list.Has a to do list by checking what emails he has left in his inbox.He sorts by unread and then responds on moble in rapid fire fashion.Search not as good on mobile.Scans email on mobile to rememeber what he wants to deal with later that day.Personal email is a mess, no filing or archiving.Does not care about read/unread.
Deals with emails as they come for the most part.Has all email archived by EOD everyday.Volume is not an issue for his system.Has diferent types of email for his various @email addresses.Inbox zero is unrealistic, not aiming for that but likes to take action on almost every emails.Responds to emails when he has free time on desktop in batches.Never reads newsletters, wishes she didnÕt sign up for them.Reads every email that comes in and deletes or leaves.
Very Clean inbox.Reads, files or deletes every email.Manages volume with his system.Ignores newsletters.Always opens emails from friends.Relies on search to find emails.
Diregards the majority of his newsletters, unsubscribes from them once a quarter.Ignores newsletters for the most part.Deals with work emails first then deals with personal.Retreives using search.Just clicks on important emails.


Chris M.Alex B.Matt C.Zeshan M.Aaron U.Mike W.Katie S.
Likes utilitarian, quick and simple.Loves the satisfaction of cleaning inbox, archiving.Likes very clean format that gmail app uses.Loves chat format of slack, convo/threads.Likes how simple outlook app is .Like google inbox grouping.Likes on mobile how it shows all emails, doesn't group into threads.
Likes dictating email.Uses pin feature and likes it a lot.
Likes to delete or archive in one swipe.Likes the swipe to archive.
Likes all emails from several different addresses to arive in one place.


Chris M.Alex B.Matt C.Zeshan M.Aaron U.Mike W.Katie S.Mickey G.
Doesn't like seperating out work and personal.Does not use gmail tabs, doesn't want to adapt.Doesn't like all email in one place, likes seperation and tabs.Wants a ctrl Z, undo functionality.Scared of email trying to be too intelligent .Wants to be able to flag emails that should be sorted a certain way.Doesn't like gmail tabs because she views it as additional spam.Doesn't like auto sorting caetorization.
Hates threading on gmail, hard to find things.Would like consolidated email, to-do, notes.Promotional emails are an issue.Specificy types of notifications.Would like to have attachments be clearer.Doesn't like mixing professional and personal emails.Doesn't like email threading.Problem with volume of junk email.
Not easy to use attachments on mobile.Wants more automated organization.Still has unneccesary formailty of actual letters.Doesn't like the volume of unwanted communicaiton that doesn't require his attention/action.Never uses snooze becomes the entire inbox becomes snooze.Volume is biggest problem.
Inbox is too much of an interface for email.Folder are old and out of date.Wants better attachments for mobile.Currently not satisfied with any mail app, uses outlookScared to loose important emails in groupings.Volume prevents her from actually getting value out of her newsletters.
Doesn't like iOS threading.Itinerary ticket search never works, has trouble finding email with search.
Sheer volume of newsletters desuades her from organizing.


Prototype Critique
Tim F.Alex B.Matt C.Zeshan M.Aaron U.Mike W.Katie S.Class and Other
100 Total decisions, choose them wisely.Scared of losing control of his email system.Make email news for RSS feed.Attachments tabs.Easier to take action on mobile, simple swipe.Think about how to make email for the modern freelancer.Why not have a to-do tab and pin to that.Gamification of inbox Zero.
Control/minimize variables.Chill mail, Chill box.Need more utility, how twitter sorts out media.Prioritize email.Text is short, conversational and infofrmal. Email is catch up, media, formal.Decsion fatigue.Ticket sorting.Parse song names and present preview.
Minimum effective dose. (MED)Make the social model more of a feature than a separate app.Inbox section, sperate out media, newsletters into different visual categories.Sort by action, read vs response.Does not want a learning curve, hard to change habits.Mobile is preseting this information as digestible when it is not.Giphy api, more visual responses.
Decision fatigue leads to shorcuts, either reckless or no decisions.Change the concept of the newsletter into more of a follow model.Not compeling to change ways unless it makes life much easier.One person involved in email could actively tag a convo/thread like slack.What does an Email paper look like?
Too much space, will be hard to find important emais.Rather would read the NYT than newsletters.Some things are good to have but don't need decision or attenion.Integration with web info, credentials, provide context.
Uses texting even professionally.How can you help people deal with their email fasterÉ gifs?
Remove newsletters.Easier to delete than subscribe, short term fix.
What if email were sorted by person like texting.


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