Why Gmail continues to win me over

I’ve been using Gmail for a few years now.  For the past year or so I’ve been managing my Gmail accounts in Outlook.  About a month ago Outlook quit sending messages for me (I think it’s related to putting VSTO onto my system, but a fresh build is upcoming so I’m not working to hard at fixing it) and I’ve been using the web UI a lot more.

Little things continue to impress me.  I like how it can figure out what emails belong in a thread, even if they haven’t been part of a Fwd or Reply chain.  Today I got a shipping notice in one of my Gmail accounts and it really impressed me to see what Google had put in the side bar.  One click and I could be at the tracking page for my shipment.

Of course I didn’t notice that until after I’d opened a new tab, navigated to UPS and cut and paste the tracking number into their webpage.  Little things like this are what get users stoked about an application.  As a developer it’s extremely difficult to figure out what, when and where to put these little nuggets.  “Dog fooding” your application will give you a better chance at winning over your users, but in the end it you really need to ask them for ideas, listen intently and then take action.