Once upon a time, personal email accounts were places to send notes to friends and family, or to receive updates from mailing lists on topics of interest. However, in 2016 most of that communication has moved elsewhere, yet the use of email products remains quite high. Through a series of interviews with 150 personal email users and several larger surveys, we set out to qualitatively and quantitatively understand current personal email use behaviors. We show the importance of email for managing receipts, events, travel, and deals and how email has evolved into the largest Business to Consumer communication channel. The design implications of this work will highlight a few application concepts created from these insights which move away from email as a reverse chronological list of senders and subjects.
Frank Bentley is a Senior Principal Researcher at Yahoo, where he leads User Research for Yahoo Mail, Messenger, Flickr, and View. Frank’s research identifies new product opportunities in communication and digital media based on findings from iterative user research and through the rapid prototyping and field evaluation of new concepts. For the past 10 years, he has taught a Mobile HCI class at MIT, which has also reached over 75,000 students on the EdX platform, and recently taught a new course called Understanding Users at Stanford.