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Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Undo" When Sending Email

Paul Buchheit, ex-Google employee and Gmail co-creator, earlier this year argued that “all actions should have ’undo’”. Undo in interfaces is the button which reverts the last action you performed, sometimes with a full “undo history” to revert several actions (Undo exists especially in desktop applications, but also in good web apps). Indeed, because the Undo button is so common we’re almost trained to “do first, think later” in applications. But this thinking doesn’t always work. Google’s Gmail for instance has an Undo option for almost every other action... not, however, when you hit the Send button on an email! How often did you hit that button to realize a split-second later you, say, forgot to add the attachment*?

Paul argues that an Undo functionality is needed for Gmail’s Send button as well. He adds, “this will require adding a short delivery delay, like 10 sec, but it’s worth it.” (I like the idea, though there’s still the problem that we’re not used to an Undo option suddenly disappearing, which would be what happens after the 10 seconds... maybe there needs to be a countdown ticker as well, or is all this just shifting the same problem around?) What do you think?

*Granted, there’s a Greasemonkey script which will remind you to add an attachment if your email contains a word hinting that you may have wanted to add one (like “attach”, “attached”, “attachment”...).


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