Incremental Improvements in Gmail Should Help Enterprise Adoption

Google Apps Enterprise Edition users have seen some a number of small changes to the user Gmail user interface. While some are cosmetic — colors, borders, highlights — others should ease user adoption and comfort with Gmail. One of these changes is the Move to button that appeared this morning.

One of the big differences between Gmail and other email servers, like Microsoft Exchange, is the difference between folders and labels. With folders, when you move an email from your Inbox to the folder, the email actually moves into that folder. To find the email, you need to browse the folder or include the folder in your search.

Gmail labels work differently. In Gmail, all of your email resides in “All Mail”. Gmail uses the power of Google’s search technology to find and display your messages.

When you label and Archive your message, you are removing it from the “Inbox” and adding the labels to the message. While clicking on a Label name looks like opening a folder, you are in effect searching for all messages with the Label.

Labels offer more than traditional folders in that: (1) You can put multiple labels on a message without having to copy the message into multiple folders; and (2) Searching and finding messages in Gmail is fast (no comparison to Outlook).

The Move to button adds the label and archives the message(s) in one click. As such, it looks and feels like you are moving a message into a folder.

User Interface enhancements that mask some of the differences between Gmail and other email systems will only enhance users’ acceptance. With this feature, users can work with the familiar “move” concept without loosing Gmail’s superior search capability.