Aquarium Blog

Thursday, December 04, 2003

What is the problem with the new Hotmail?

My coworker Manuel came to my desk to complain that the new Hotmail layout was optimized for a resolution of 1024x768 pixels. I think at 800x600 it is still very usable, but I have to agree that I don't like some details about the new version.

First and most annoying of all: Message links are javascript links. I really hate every site on this planet that do this. I don't want to get in a REST vs. Javascript links debate. I see it is an usability problem.

Why is using javascript links broken? Because you cannot Shift+Click on them. I do this all the time, I think of it as the Scoblesque way of surfing the web. As I am a developer, there is too much information outhere that I wish I could grasp, but I cannot. I have no time to loop from searching a page for a link to reading its content, clicking on the back button, waiting for the page to reload (I think Hotmail reloads faster now), and searching for next link. So what I do is to open the main page, I get myself in "search mode", I Shift+Click+Alt+Tab on every item I think is relevant because of the subject. Then I switch to "read mode" and I read them one by one. I close them as quicly as I see they don't cut it. Hopefully, in a few minutes I have closed them all and I am ready to continue my work.

I am very used to do this with news sites (There is a news site from my country that I hate so much for this same reason. I guess I should give them my feedback in another post.) and in Hotmail which is actually the only web mail I use.

So, please guys... The Web may not be as a rich medium as Longhorn Avalon will be, but right now it has some productivity features. Don't blow it! Every time you take functionality like this out of it, you are hurting us. Now I remeber I saw something like this in the Microsoft Support Knowledgebase before. You could not Shift-Click on the items in the result pane, but you could Righ-Click and open the item in a new window (I have no idea how they did that). Fortunatelly it is working ok now.

Second, the big MSN star and logo on the right: The objective is us to love MSN, isn't it? Ok, it is not working. The GIF file is actually 22KB, which is not a lot, but it must take from 3 to 4 extra seconds on a dial up connection (I haven't tried). The real problem is the amount of screen real state it sucks. It takes around the 20% of the screen in 800x600 with.

You already took the banner upthere. We are used to it, we know we are using a free service. Why do you need to put such an annoying logo on the right side?

I feel I should email Hillel Cooperman and ask him his opinion, even when MSN is not his department.

Besides this I think I like the new layout more than the former. Good job guys!

My wish for the next version: Eat your own dog food. If you can build Hotmail completely in ASP.NET then ASP.NET is already the best web application platform. If you cannot, then help improve it.

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