The Internet Times Supplement

Open letter to David McDowell Sr. Director of Product Management Yahoo! Mail

In Technology on August 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm

This is my open letter to David McDowell Sr. Director of Product Management Yahoo! Mail


The proposed justifications for the new ´all shiny and wonderful´ email just do not gel with me and many of the people who I have dealings with. I have received a second email with several ´justifications´ as to how this will benefit me.

¨What You Can Look Forward To When You Upgrade¨ – I have seen what is proposed and the justifications for me doing so are extremely shallow. Note that I have been with Yahoo from almost the beginning and have been VERY happy with the service provided. However, I am working with the adage ´if it isn´t broken do not fix it´. Yahoo Mail does EXACTLY what I want it to do and the changes will make me (and several hundred of the people I deal with) simply walk away. As we exit through the door to a bright new alternative we will inevitably shout out to those entering ¨do not do it!!!!¨

In case you are wondering, I am not a stick in the mud, I am someone who appreciates a good product that simply works. I have seen and heard from many who have switched (or inadvertently done so) and gone ¨WTF?¨. A simple (dare I use the word) Google of this and the comments here will surely show you how disastrous this will be if you force change on people who neither want it or need it. The comments here are simple indicators of how ill thought out the ´new´ version is. Did you do any UI testing in the real world? Clearly not given the simplistic problem of the ¨Why do I have to scroll back up again?¨ issue raised by many. There are many other issues regarding usability that raise the question (and many others too) ¨Why?¨. Letś look at the justifications you provide:

1. Faster email. Err… faster than what exactly? At my office I have a T1 link but use a system that is bogged down with (required) AV and security. At home I have a high speed ADSL that suffers from the vagaries of others in the area peaking with Netflik d/l´s and other factors. On the move I have several devices (Blackberry, iPhone etc) that are subject to bandwidth and signal/noise limitations. All of this before I encounter the deferred packet sending from an internal email server/s and the vagaries of different service providers. SO… how EXACTLY is the new email ´faster´?

2. The latest Yahoo! Mail spam-protection technology – What? A simple generic statement from you with little or no qualified or quantified justification. Are you saying I will get NO spam? Somehow, given the techncentric capabilities of professional spammers I am certain that they will quickly circumvent whatever (and this is?) ´spam-protection´ you would care to put in place.

3. Easier-to-use design – Easier than what EXACTLY? I refer you to the comments above which are indicative of the lack of attention to detail which is endemic in development currently (Well, it LOOKS pretty AND it IS purple). SO?

4. Unlimited email storage so that you can keep everything you want – I, and many others, do this already. This is nothing new and certainly NOT ´Awesome´.

Yahoo appear to be moving forward with little or no consideration (or common sense) in relation to why you have so many long-standing customers and a huge installed base. Yahoo Mail is NOT broken. Yes, provide options or a suitable different interface for those with different requirements. Do NOT do this at the expense of those who have provided you with a solid base through which you (and this includes YOU) have been able to make a good living through people like US using Yahoo.

A while back you promoted ´Yahoo Classic´ yet proceeded to make changes to a ´classic´ interface that interfered with its usability.

You WILL lose people in huge numbers as a result. I HOPE you will not force people to CHANGE. Someone else promised this and look what happened. We are not all mushrooms and there are many email service providers out there. You should listen to users rather than bean counters and those who go ¨Yeah! I can get it to do this…¨ which has nothing to do with the real world and how people actually use email.

BTW Please employ people who understand how to develop a user interface. It is clear what little thought your developers have put into ´usability´just on the basis of the comments above.

Best regards…


My comment has not appeared here for some reason…

  1. ¨Well said! Recently I was “upgraded” involuntarily, and I find the new mail program fraught with bugs. Just today I have had problems with e-mails not opening….

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