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During the many interviews I have had with customers and partners about WebApp usage and missing features, one specific feature was mentioned several times: 'filter rules'. Especially for users who get tons of emails from different email lists 'filter rules' is a key feature to keep inboxes clean and thereby simplifies your email management.
Also according to studies, professionals spend up to 40 percent of the workday on email management. That leaves little time to get the rest of your work done. Fortunately, you can dramatically reduce the time you spend on email management, without becoming less effective at work, by following some simple rules: send less emails, check only a few times per day and efficient use of wizard rules.
The last months we have been working on a new design for this feature and have checked with many power users which design they prefer.
From customers who still use our WebAccess we have been told that the rules system is too limited. To clarify this, I will give an example. Once you are receiving several mailing lists that should be moved to one specific folder, the WebAccess rules do not allow you to make a condition where multiple addresses could match. In WebAccess only one condition and one action can be specified.
Outlook users can benefit from a much more extensive rules system. The wizard offers both server and client rules, millions of combinations are possible. During the interviews with less experienced Outlook users we learnt that the possibilities in Outlook make it unusable for them because they don't know where to start and what all the options mean.
During the customer interviews we quickly came to the conclusion that the new filter rule system should offer more possibilities than WebAccess, but should be less complex than Outlook.
It was funny to hear that all more technical users are enthusiastic about the Thunderbird filter rule system because it has a lot of features and that on the other hand non-technical users often responded that it still is too complex.
In the new design of the rule creation dialog, users will get a wizard to create the rule by composing a sentence where the condition and actions can be selected.
As multiple conditions and actions can be added, we solve the limitations of WebAccess and with the new user friendly wizard users can create rules quickly.
The first version of this new rule system is included in the WebApp 1.2 release. Later on, actions and conditions will be extended to have even more options. For now, we trust that more people will get a clean inbox by this new user friendly rules system.
In case you experience other Outlook/WebAccess usability issues which we can implement or improve in WebApp, please share them with us. Let's manage our email and professional life by using these tools, and not let email manage your life in 2013!