I just wanted to take a few minutes in the blog to say thank you for the many great suggestions you’ve passed our way and to show you a few of them. One weakness in the way we handle suggestions now is that while we have a way for everyone in our company to see the suggestions and add follow up ideas, we don’t yet have a method for opening up that process to you as our customers.
So I’m going to use this blog post to lay out for you 10 of the customer-given ideas currently in our Basecamp site over at the excellent 37signals. Please post your comments about these ideas to the blog and you can help us refine them.
Fair warning: this blog post will be long and the ideas are in no particular order.
Improve mail filter controls for users. Our current mail filters work by searching all or part of a message for a keyword and, when the keyword is found, the message is moved to a folder or deleted, etc. There are more powerful filtering capabilities out there that allow for more complex searches and handling. Our customer referred us to: http://www.cyrusoft.com/sieve/.
Draft messages in the webmail client. When a message is being composed, if the close button is clicked and the message wasn’t saved, a window should pop up asking, “Do you want to save this as a draft?”.
Password expirations. Some email administrators would like the ability to set time limits on the age of a password. Users would be prompted to change their password after X many months.
Trust sender added functionality. One customer pointed out that while “Report spam” marks a message as read, moves it to the spam folder, and submits the offending message to spam-learning system, “Trust sender” only adds the sender to a safelist. It was suggested that the message should instead be moved from the spam folder (in the case of a false positive– rare, but it does happen) and marked as unread to mirror the “Report spam” functionality and save a few clicks.
Sort messages by size in webmail. This has been an oft-requested feature. I am happy to report to you that our recent Hackathon saw this feature created and the testing began. It may be a few more weeks before we can put this feature on the main webmail servers, but it’s coming soon!
Make more email addresses clickable inside webmail. Right now, if you use webmail to view an email that was composed in plain text and that message has an email address inside, that address is clickable and a new webmail compose window pops up (this is good). But if you use webmail to view an email composed using HTML, the computer that composed the message has already made the address clickable, but as a “mailto:” link that opens up your default desktop email client like Outlook. The suggestion is to hijack that “mailto:” link and make it pop up a new webmail compose window instead.
Improve spell checking inside webmail. I’m going to cheat and put a couple of suggestions under this one heading. A customer suggested that we allow user-specific dictionaries that can be added to dynamically– the way a word processor program does. That way you type your email and add your sig line that includes “ACME Corporation”, and when the spell checker chokes on ACME you could add it to your dictionary and never be warned about it again. Several customers have pointed out that we can improve spell checking when composing using HTML, and support for more languages could be added.
HTML signatures in webmail. This one should be simple to implement: make it easy for customers to make HTML signatures for webmail. Colors, links, bold, etc. can all make a sig line more eye-catching.
Sort the address book and frequent contacts by last name. This one is pretty much self-explanatory. I saw the development code for this working just the other day so I think we’re only a few more weeks away from seeing this in your webmail.
Time limits on the vacation auto-responder. Some customers would like to define a time range for their vacation auto-responder (like I’m on vacation August 23rd through 26th, so automatically start and stop my vacation message for that time period). I’m sneaking in a second vacation item here, too: some customers would like to be able to check a box to select whether their coworkers and friends get the vacation response only the first time they send to the vacationer or if the sender will get the auto-response every time.
Better tools for suggestion tracking
We looking into ways to better expose this process to you. We love the idea of having an open system that is easy to use for (1) customers to put in ideas, (2) customers to comment on each other’s ideas, (3) our staff to add editorial comments, and (4) our staff to keep customers informed about which suggestions are being actively developed.
Hey, if you have an idea of a tool we could use to do this: suggest it to us! Drop a comment to the blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.