#13 Tech is Easy, Humans are Hard

The more you talk to users, the more you realise the big problems in async communication today are human, not technical.

This presents an interesting challenge as we develop Plum Mail. Our solutions are naturally technical but we need to think carefully about how users are encouraged to use features in an optimal way so the benefits of improved communication are actually felt.

We have given a lot of thought to this and are working to blend the worlds of user experience design and hard feature development together.

Trying something new

We want Plum Mail to be easy and familiar to use but at the same time, brilliantly disruptive. You need to disrupt in order to provide a benefit that previously didn't exist.

However, being too opinionated on 'how communication should be done' doesn't wash well. Plum Mail is, therefore, adopting a policy of nudging and encouraging users to try out a new communication behaviour rather than 'enforcing' it.

There are four new communication behaviours that Plum Mail encourages but does not (and cannot) 'enforce':

  1. Setting Expectations
  2. Delaying receiving email
  3. Concluding conversations
  4. Structuring conversations

We have published four blog posts so far on communication behaviour which introduce the problem, how the feature solution works, how we are making the new behaviour attractive and how we are making the new behaviour persist.

Ensuring the user has autonomy

This matters because when you become a Plum Mail customer, you will want to experience the benefits we offer.

These will only be attainable if you and others use Plum Mail in the spirit in which it has been created.

We considered making you sit through a lengthy onboarding call but that doesn't work for the casual Plum Mail user replying to a message and frankly I'm sure you have better things to be doing with your day.

Instead, we are planning on delighting you through feature discovery and guiding users with subtle prompts, highly relevant to the action you are taking in Plum Mail at that moment.

Critically, we want you to decide what behaviours you adopt and to do so because they provide real value to you, not because we decree from on high that you're getting it all wrong and we know exactly what you should want.

I am optimistic about users adopting new ways of thinking about communicating and excited that Plum Mail's features are there to assist with that.

It will be super interesting to see what unexpected changes in communication behaviour emerge in the coming months as users engage with our new features.

Please do check out my blogs on Changing Communication Behaviours. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Embedding Video

You can now embed YouTube and Loom videos in Plum Mail messages, simply by pasting in the link.

Cheers, Peter & Richard

p.s. If you have a friend who you think would be interested in our journey, please do forward this email to them! Thank you. :-)

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