|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.