IBM; Gruen, Daniel; Moody, Paul; Kerr, Bernard; Wilcox, Eric: Reinventing E-Mail, IBM Research, Cambridge 2003, pp. 33.

THEMES: IBM\Research | Gruen, Daniel | Moody, Paul | Kerr, Bernard | Wilcox, Eric
META STRUCTURES: CH\...\ReMail | LN\...\12_Mail-Manage...
YEAR: 2003

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The Collaborative User Experience (CUE) team in IBM Research has spent nearly a decade studying email. Not only has email become one of the most pervasive and successful collaborative tools available, it has also become a key component of IBM's Lotus Software offerings. In many ways, email can be seen as a victim of its own success - users increasingly suffer from overload and interruptions as well as use email in a manner for which it was not intended.

To meet the challenges in researching email, we have taken a multifaceted approach to data collection. This approach combines lessons from a variety of sources, ranging from formal lab tests to feedback from customers gathered in informal settings. Our research has included:
  • field studies,
  • statistical analyses of the structure of people's email,
  • collections of email histories,
  • traditional usability tests,
  • focus groups,
  • design explorations,
  • stories and visionary design pieces,
  • experimental tools that subjects could run using their own mail, and
  • directed functional prototypes that people can use for real work with their own mail.

Our observational and market studies, conducted primarily through focus groups and interviews, have identified a number of key areas in which to make user-focused improvements to email tools.