I’m very excited to examine one of my favorite recent discoveries, Alto Mail by AOL. Alto Mail complies your AOL mail, Gmail, Yahoo mail or iCloud mail into one clean interface. This product allows you to conveniently customize, aggregate and organize your mail experience. The best part about this product is that it allows you to visually organize your mail into dynamic stacks according to your preferences or preset categories (presets include things like: daily deals, photos or retail).
The interactions that make the user experience and keep things organized are the following:
- Drag and drop to create stacks – This allows you to easily create a new stack by dragging an email to the “+” stack.
- Toggle stack view options - When you click into a stack you can toggle between 3 different view types: message list, page view or list view. This could be improved with the ability to set a default view type so you don’t have to change it every time you click into a stack.
- Photo gallery browse - There is a photo stack option that aggregates photos from your emails and puts them into a tile view when you click into the stack. From there you can click on a photo and it takes you into a larger view to quickly navigate through all your photos.
- Hover scan on stacks - When you hover over an individual stack you can move your cursor back and forth to quickly scan through introductory text or photos to preview a stacks contents. I find that I use this the most with my daily deals and photos stacks since these are easier to scan than text.
- Skipping the inbox - I can easily hide my daily deals so that I don’t have to sort through them to get to my more important mail but they are easily discovered, within a stack, when I do want to browse them.
The two friction points I encounter are:
- Viewing a conversation thread - When I am looking back through my emails or want to see what other friends were saying on a particular thread, it slows me down to click “View Conversation” in the top right corner of the email. This action takes me into a new screen which means I need to navigate back to wherever I was before. This could be remedied by allowing users to simply scroll down through an email thread.
- Default email address - When you send an email there is a drop down at the top that allows you to choose which email to send this message from. You can easily overlook this drop down, however, and send an email from a different address than you intended. I find that I always run into this problem and it could be fixed by creating a default email address setting.