Creatures of habit may hate the new Gmail redesign at first glance. Expect the mail you’ve become familiar with to change in a number of key ways. Some you may feel uncertain of at first, but the improved user interface is one you’ll come to appreciate as soon as you get used to the new layout and features.
Google informed G Suite users of major changes in the works, some of which you may already have noticed on your Gmail interface and others that will become available later. Colored tabs allow you to easily organize the content in your inbox in a way that makes finding the exact project folder you’re working on simple.
There are a number of changes and enhancements to the interface. How exactly is the interface changing and what are the benefits and drawbacks of these changes?
1. Keeps Overall Layout
The overall interface isn’t much different than what consumers were already using with Gmail. You’ll still find your folders and inbox links to the left and account features on the upper right. The advantage of a similar layout is that you will quickly adapt to the new Gmail UI design.
It makes sense that the layout would remain familiar. Since the entire focus is on the user experience and creating a user interface (UI) that is intuitive and helpful, it wouldn’t make much sense to completely change the basics of the layout.
2. Adds Snooze Feature
For the average worker, about 25 percent of their day is spent dealing with emails. It’s one of the activities that takes up time for workers trying to be more productive. If you’ve ever felt as though you’re drowning in a flood of emails, Gmail’s new UI feature, which allows you to snooze emails, is one you’ll want to look at carefully.
If you receive an email you know you need to respond to in the near future, but you’re under a deadline, you can easily snooze that email. Choose from options such as “later today” or “next week” to make the email reappear at a later date.
3. Features New Plugin Capability
It’s hard to see a downside in allowing Gmail to integrate plugins to help with productivity and task management. Click on “Manage Labels” in the left sidebar. You may need to click the “More” button to expand and see this option. Choose the tab for “Add-ons.” Click the “Get add-ons” link. A box will pop up that has a number of different options, including adding direct links to Trello, Asana, Docusign for Gmail and Quickbooks for invoicing.
The ability to add plugins helps with task management and makes it quick and painless to jump from one task to the next almost seamlessly. Reports indicate that the calendar will reside alongside messages in the new version.
4. Keeps Quick Navigation
Some of the features you already love about Gmail remain the same. Need to quickly access your calendar? Simply click on the grid icon next to your account in the top right of the page and you’ll be given options such as Drive, Docs, Calendar and Groups.
Icons remain the same and easily recognizable. This allows you to jump from your mail to your calendar before confirming an appointment, for example.
5. Preview Attachments
Perhaps one of the more interesting and intuitive features of the new Gmail design is the ability to quickly navigate to an attachment. If you’re waiting for a database file and the person on the other end sends it through, you can simply click on “View” from the inbox without even opening the actual email and view the file directly. This is a real time-saver for the busy businessperson.
One drawback to this addition, however, is that you risk opening something you may not want to open or clicking on the wrong link. It also pushes the lines of emails a bit apart by adding in the buttons. This may seem bulky and unfamiliar at first, particularly on a smaller screen. However, the ability to save time when working directly with a client or on a project is worth the minor irritation this causes.
6. Send Quick Replies
Have you ever received a text while you’re in the middle of something and sent a quick reply to the sender so they know you read the message? Gmail is implementing something similar with Gmail and calling it “Smart Replies.” This will allow you to pull up the email and send a short message. Gmail will also prompt you to reply if you haven’t done so yet, which means you won’t forget an important message to a customer.
Other User-Centered Features
These are just a few of the features Google is rolling out for Gmail users. There are also rumors of a one-touch unsubscribe feature to get you quickly off mailing lists that are filling your inbox with emails and added security features.
Some would argue that Gmail is simply catching up with other email providers and the things they offer. However, in a world where many small businesses and freelancers utilize Gmail for its ability to integrate easily with platforms such as Drive, these changes are a welcome addition for many users. Expect to see more changes roll out in the coming weeks.