An Inconvenient User Experience: Gmail Drafts

Summary

  1. I love Gmail.
  2. If you accidentally discard a draft its gone forever.
  3. I think Gmail should send discarded drafts to trash.
  4. You can vote for that feature here.

I love everything about Gmail except one thing…

Discarded drafts are unrecoverable without warning. I accidentally clicked the Discard Drafts button while scrolling by a different part of the page in Gmail. I also happened to have an important long-winded response selected. After the accidental click, it was “discarded”. Or in Gmail terms, “deleted beyond all recognition, and NOT held in the Trash like deleted messages, you should’ve used Google Docs, and your hair looks funny.”

Me: “Geez Gmail. Settle down. We’re all friends here. I just want my draft back.”

Gmail: “No.”

After googling “accidentally discarded drafts” I found that I’m not the only one whose had this problem. There are Gmail users who have lost drafts of love letters to children, important business responses, and other irreplaceable or inconveniently lost documents.

I should have known better.

The popular answer on Google discussion threads are, “You should have known better. You should have used Google Docs.” …

Should we? The Gmail interface doesn’t explicitly or implicitly say that I will not be able to find discarded drafts in the Trash. There is no confirmation to explain the consequences of this irreversible action. Granted, if you’re in the inbox, when you click Discard, there is a temporary “Undo” period. But user beware the Discard Drafts button in the Drafts section.

No warning when discarding drafts in Gmail

Angry little button

There is nothing about the “Discard Drafts” button that says,

“I will delete the (expletive) out of this draft, son. Do it. I dare you. What! WHAT! (slaps you in the face).”

That’s the message the button should convey visually.

Instead we get,

“Hey bud, I’m a normal button. Grey even. Need a back rub. There. Therrre ya go. That’s it. Shhh…”

The Discard Drafts Button: Accindentally discarded drafts in Gmail
The message is not consistent with the severity of the action it initiates. Glance through the book [amazon_link id=”1592535879″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Universal Principles of Design[/amazon_link] and you’ll learn about creating things in such a way that the user can’t fail. I recommend the section on Affordance.

A love letter

Dear Gmail UX/UI Design Team,

You guys are great. You got it 99% right and its only gotten better over the years. Its just that the 1% you missed happened to delete all my junk.  Please send discarded drafts to the Trash so that the click happy-fingers of myself and other Gmail users have a reasonable safe-guard against accidental discardationmentness.

Sincerely,
Paris Vega
AKA Guy whose lunch was stolen by the “Discard Drafts” button.

Yes we can (if there are enough votes to prove users care)

I’m sure Google gets millions of complaints daily. To their credit they have a robust help/support system. After voicing my concerns in Gmail Help they directed me to a place where you can vote on new features for Gmail. Low and behold “Discard drafts to trash” is in the Helpful Additions section.

gmail user experience suggestion

If you are a Gmail user and a decent person, please go there now and vote for this feature.

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Published by

parisvega

Biosphere-dependent life form, living on planet containing only known biosphere within observable Universe.

5 thoughts on “An Inconvenient User Experience: Gmail Drafts”

  1. Good point. I have not been caught by this. I want the yellow star which means "Starred" 🙂 to be moved to the far left when I am viewing the message. I toggle it off after reading an item that has been starred by a filter.

    Like

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