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Gmail adds a delete button


The GMail team announced their latest "feature": they added a "delete" button to the interface.  Previously, you had to select "delete" from a dropdown menu.  Granted, it certainly is debatable whether or not this qualifies as a feature vs. an enhancement.  But we'll let that detail slide for the purposes of this entry.  Don't worry Google, your secret -- the fact that it only took 2 minutes to add -- is safe with me. :)

But GMail's new addition struck so close to my heart!

When Gmail launched, it was revolutionary in a few ways.  The amazing AJAX interface, the automatic grouping of conversations, and lightning-fast search all made for an interesting product.  But there was another key advantage: with 2 gigabytes of storage, you never need to delete anything.  You archive it instead!

GMail hyped the 'archive' function, and obscured the delete mechanism.  Archiving your mail became a philosophy.  "Archiving is better" Google proclaimed.  But would the world 'get' it? 

After introducing GMail to my mom, the first phone call I got was - you guessed it - her asking me where the delete button was.  I energetically explained the merits of archiving mail, and she "got onboard" to some extent.  But by the end of the phone call, I had still told her to look in the dropdown for delete.  I'm confident she was not alone - people are simply used to deleting mail they don't want.

FF to 2006:  GMail has placed a "delete" button right next to the "archive" button.  Oh no - what happened?  Don't worry, the "Archival Movement" is still strong. GMail's help topics almost humorously discourage the use of the delete button.  Perhaps Google got too many support requests - maybe it was cheaper to add a delete button then hire another four customer service reps.  Perhaps not enough of the world 'got' the whole archiving "thing", and they decided to cave in.  That must have been a sad moment for someone at GMail.  (Don't worry kid!  You're ahead of your time.  Ten years from now, nobody will delete.)

Google's struggle with the "delete" button relates quite well to MindSay. 

Building a site like MindSay, we have had certain ideals from the start: a clean interface, useful features, unobtrusive advertising, etc.  We started out using Livejournal's codebase, but we were different.  We were NOT Livejournal.  We got rid of "current music" and mood icons.  We thought they were junky, and reeked too much of LJ anyway.  MindSay had its own agenda.

This move was not easy, however.  It was not easy to explain why we did it.  I'm sure we lost a few bloggers, too.  (In theory, we gained a bunch more, people who liked our clean and unique site?!)

Adam and I continue to make diffucult decisions.  It is difficult to make changes that we believe are 'for the better' with the site, but changes which we know will upset a few people.  Sometimes we make the right decisions, sometimes we don't.  We try a lot of different things: we like to see what works and what doesn't. 

We put up a "Photos" button in the header.  We were afraid adding buttons like this would "junk up" the site.  We almost didn't do it.  Turns out the "Photos" page is now our 5th most popular page.  Damn.

I'm sure we will have more opportunities to improve the site, and I'm sure we will upset a good number of people in the process.  But do remember we are trying to act in the best interests of MindSay.

In any event, keep your eyes peeled for more "delete" buttons.