Sebastiaan De With: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

12 April 2012

Sebastiaan de With has an interesting take on reworking email bounceback messages:

That email I got back was apparently because my attachments were too large. I can barely read that email — let alone my grandmother. Machines can read it just fine, though. Here’s an idea: machines shouldn’t slap us in the face. They should help us along if they fail to do our bidding.

Sebastiaan’s proposal takes the standard ‘undelivered email’ bounceback message and reworks it to be more user-friendly. If I were to receive one of these emails I would better understand why my message failed to be delivered but I’d still have an undelivered email.

To me, the problem here isn’t that people don’t understand email bounceback messages, it’s that they’re receiving them in the first place. What if our email software could pre-empt these kinds of errors based on things we’ve done in the past?

A mockup of a dialog box alerting the user that there might be problems with the email they're about to send

So if I’ve previously tried to send large attachments to this email address that have bounced, perhaps my email software could warn me that the same thing might happen again?

(Yes, I know — this might work for situations where attachments cause email delivery failures but wouldn’t necessarily work for other errors such as ‘host unreachable’.)

Tagged with Ideas, Interfaces, Usability

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