My guess is you'll get really clumpy feedback on this. You'll have people who love it just as is, because it matches their mental model of email as a to-do list. You'll also hear from people who think it would be great if you add or change a feature or two, because it's close to their model, but not perfect. And then, you'll hear from people who think it's way off, because this just isn't how they work with email.
My experience is that people—myself included—are very particular about how they do their work. Finding a productivity app that nails my preferences is hard, but it's extremely rewarding when I finally get a system that matches my brain. For this reason, I think you shouldn't try to accommodate the way everyone works. Just relentlessly solve for the one use case this works for, and let the right users find you. They'll love the product and evangelize it.
Interesting perspective Jake. Adoption is definitely a concern. We built Hiri for companies for the most part. For us, email is a commons problem. Unless everyone has a clear mental model of how something should be used, they'll use it differently. This is at the core of the email problem. Some really bad habits have grown up around email. Email is really good for asynchronous/low ambiguity communication, but it's increasingly used in place of tools that are better suited at handling realtime communication - IM, the phone or even meetings.
So we're being deliberately prescriptive to get people to change these habits. But... as you say, people are reluctant to change. Even if it is best practise. This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night :-)
One thing that comes to mind is that I consistently prefer apps that give me a rule or two, and let me experiment with them to build my own system, rather than boxing me into a rigid methodology. Like, with Mailbox, the only new concept is snooze, and I can play that off of more familiar features to flexibly handle all kinds of situations. I don't need specific actions for every unique case; one new tool reframes the existing ones to let me build a better way of working. Or in Workflowy, the only real feature is that any bullet in my list can be temporarily zoomed to the top level. Yet that one thing allows me to build the system that fits me, eschewing all the heavy pages and documents and folders and notebooks that bog down other listing/note apps.
Best example I can think of is probably Apple's Mission Control vs the old Exposé/Spaces. Exposé and spaces were discrete, simple tools that each did one thing, and after learning how to use them separately, I could combine them to quickly accomplish a broad range of tasks. Mission control gloms them together, covering all the possible use cases at once, which feels comparatively imprecise and confusing.
Bit of a Workflowy fan myself!
Hopefully we're striking a balance. We don't subscribe to any particular methodology ourselves (and we're productivity nuts, we've tried quite a few!). Inbox zero takes quite a bit of discipline, which I don't just have. Ends up being Inbox 50-100. Anywhere we've added friction we've done so deliberately to make people think.
We have bigger plans for the To-do list, but we've kept it very loose for now. Whatever about email, To-do lists seem to be a very personal choice. We haven't added any bells and whistles to our list -WYSIWYG. Going to watch users for a while and see what they want.
Really like your observations RE: Mission control vs. Exposé. it does feel like Apple are getting more and more prescriptive - and I don't like it either. Must take a look at Hiri from this perspective. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Greatly appreciated.
This looks really, really, REALLY well thought out. I especially like the design that encourages you to wait to check your email, as well as the awesome "action" vs "fyi" categorization. Super smart.
Thanks Phil. Just delighted to hear that! You made my day :-)
We made an email app from scratch. Amazing how complicated the use cases can get when you make any changes to how email works. It's been a labour of love.
Visit www.hiri.com to try the beta.
Let's hear those thoughts!
The beta is just for Office 365 at this point right? Let me know AS SOON as exchange comes out because I would LOVE to try this!
Really well done. As commenters have said before, it's all about how people mentally handle communication and to-dos. As I have looked at a bunch, I think Hiri is one of the closest to how I work. But I could see people in my office being the exact opposite.
So I will definitely be trying this out and spreading the word!
Hi Michael. Thanks for the kind words. Exchange will be available very soon. Just send a mail to dave(at)hiri.com and I'll add you to the list! Would love to get your feedback after you've used it for a while.
The video makes it look really complicated (it indeed is complicated) and it's too long. Going against Gmail is brave but the battle is lost before it even started.
Hiri is just for companies. It only works with Exchange and Office 365. The video is more of a walkthrough than a teaser. But you can see a teaser here :-) https://vimeo.com/119370976
No support for Google Apps for Business?
Slack is killing internal email. I can actually control notifications where as with email I have no control over what I get. Based on the video I fail to see why this would be better than Slack. A few people have pointed out the complexity. Perhaps make a shorter demo that focuses on the core.
Hiri is not 'better' than Slack. Slack serves a different purpose. It's like saying Skype will kill email. Each tool has its place. We actually encourage users to use IM for certain types of communication.
As for x killing email - business email is still growing rapidly. See http://www.emailisnotdead.com
Just a quick comment on Slack. It's somewhat difficult to get people /companies to use Slack unless they see its value right away. We've tried to use it in our company and it hasn't take off. Email will stick around for a while, and Slack serves a slightly different purpose.
One thing to note is that adoption of Slack requires adoption of at least the whole team (if not the company, for even more benefit). However, it looks like you could sort of use this Hiri alone but will realize addition benefit as more adoption happens.
Some clever ideas in there. I like the fact that it forces you to think better about why you are sending that email.
What I personally don't like is the fact that it turns email into a to-do system. I like to have that somewhere else where I can also add to-do's that don't arrive through email.
But I see a lot of people around me who do treat it like that. It might work better for them.
Good luck. It is quite a crowded innovation space you are moving into.
Appreciate the feedback.
Just wondering - is there anything we could do that would persuade you to manage your To-do's alongside your emails?
Hmmm, that would be difficult I quess. I am a bit of a geek when it comes to to-do's and love Omnifocus for that.
In particular I like to keep them separate to avoid getting distracted by new email while looking at my to-do's.
To-Do lists seem to be a very personal choice! And I can certainly understand why you want to stay out of your inbox.
Would you consider something like an Omnifocus integration? Could be a very interesting route for us.
Integration could be helpful to easily turn emails into to-do items in Omnifocus. But it also seems like a shame because it reduces the added value of Hiri.
The other way around (moving items from Omnifocus to Hiri) would require you to be on par on functionality. That would make no sense either.
So you are probably better of serving the majority who use basic to-do lists or post-it notes. Once you have the majority on Hiri, the rest will follow. :-)
I really like the concept and thinking behind it.. However, Visually, I'm not a huge fan of. The colours seems washed out and not as welcoming (IMO).
Was hard to get the colour right in the video. Check out the product page on the site and see if you still feel the same. Cheers! www.hiri.com
Really love the design. Well thought out. I'm always amazed at these big, established communication methods that people choose to tackle.
FYI - Rating someone's email is awesome. I can envision many many snarky conversations ensuing.
Thanks Eric. The ratings piece has proven quite popular. Beats going postal :-)
Does it work equally as well if you are the only person using it?
If you are the only one using Hiri all other emails drop into your unsorted folder then forcing you to potentially spend more time in Hiri (and on email) sorting them into other inboxes.
I really like the design and fell and the idea is fantastic. I really like the dashboard idea. And I would agree that going against Gmail is tough but this looks like it could have potential.
Thanks Jacob. You can sort them if you wish, of course, you can also just leave them there :-) we don't think everything needs to be filed away. Also, Hiri is just for MS Exchange and Office 365, so not attempting to compete with Gmail. We'll leave that to MS :-)
Everything works bar the Action/FYI split. You can use the Unified inbox and manually sort your mail. You can also map To and CC to Actionable and FYI if you like. Anything specific you're wondering about?
Echoing some of the other comments… I really, really love some of the ideas here and I applaud your effort to tackle this beast.
Going up against Google is, well, brave at the least. I've tried at least a dozen apps to replace Gmail over the years and the only one that's come close is Inbox. Nothing else is as fast or – crucially and relatedly – as keyboard-able. I won't bother with any app that advertises mouse-only interactions.
It's hard to picture my email being so purely a to-do list, though I can see how "reply to this email" can be thought of as a to-do.
Still though, I hope there's enough support that you can keep at it and maybe end up being rolled into an improved Inbox, or something.
Thanks for the considered feedback Lee. Should have pointed out that we aren't going up against Gmail at all. Hiri is just for business use - it only works with Microsoft Exchange and Office 365. We focus on MS because they have 93% of the business email market share. Only other app that works well with these servers is MS Outlook!
We're working on more keyboard shortcuts!
Oh! I was wondering if this was a work-email-centric solution. That makes a whole lot more sense.
Can people use this even if their company doesn't, generally? (I have no idea how big companies work with this stuff…) I ask because I'd like to recommend it to some poor souls stuck using Exchange or Outlook or whatever…
People can use it even if their colleagues don't, although the more people use it, the more value everyone gets. We've been working hard to ensure there's enough value for individuals and for teams. It's a delicate balance. Time will tell if we got it right or not.
Ah cool, this is an important point and completely shifted my perception of what you're doing.
Guess we should make this a little clearer in the video! Thanks Michael.
This looks like a real product that solves a real problem for real people, not just another Gmail clone with a fancy design and a few gimmicky features.
It's not for me, but I can see how it'd be very useful for its target audience. Well done!
Thanks Sacha! Would love to know why it's not for you though. Might be something we can work on.
Well I don't like people giving me stuff to do. So I probably wouldn't use an app that makes this any easier ;)
More seriously, this seems like a really good app for companies and agencies, but maybe not individuals?
Looks really interesting, and great to see a nice product with an Irish accent! Add Google Apps support and I'm sold ;)
It feels way too complicated for an email app, at least from the video. I don't want to go through all that hassle with my email, sorry.
The same xylophone/ukulele/guitar music in all of these product videos makes me and my colleagues nauseas.
That being said, I think this looks really dope!