I’m a big fan of HEY (and Basecamp). And I’ve been running HEY on three domains for the past few months so I’ve really had the an opportunity to kick the tires and get familiar with the product.
As former inbox zero guy, I’ve really taken to the HEY workflow — or, as Basecamp calls it, the flow. If I’m not ready to reply now it goes into Reply Later. Simple.
And, as a former Superhuman power user, I’ve learned to live without the obsession for speed in favor of focus. But, on the continuum of calm simplicity and power features, HEY could benefit from a few quality of life improvements.
Here’s my top ten list of features I’d like to see added to HEY, in no particular order:
- Scheduled Send / Send Later - Being a respectful email citizen requires sometimes knowing when not to send an email. Just because I'm working on the weekend, doesn't mean I want someone else to. So I'd like to schedule emails to go out at very specific times in the future. Same for HEY for Work's Collaborative Notes feature. If I can send it, I'd like to have the ability to schedule it.
- Undo Send - We've all been there. You hit send and then realize you typed "can't" instead of "can." Most email clients now give users a five second grace period to recall an email and make an edit before it's truly released. This seems like table stakes at this point for an email client.
- Restrictions on WHEN people can hit my Imbox or Imbox Pause - Sometimes I want to get into my Imbox to triage some email in Reply Later or reference something in Previously Seen, but I don't want to be distracted by new email. HEY is great at limiting who can get into my Imbox, but I also want to control when people can get into my Imbox. Jason and David talk a lot about how email is broken, and I would wager that the when is just as important as the whowhen it comes to helping users love email again.
I see this working in two ways. One would be an all-purpose Imbox Pause when users just want to focus and not see any new email from anyone. And, two, I'd like to be able to assign certain contacts Office Hours. My wife? She can get into my Imbox 24/7. But, that contractor who emails me at all hours of the nights and on weekends? He can only get to my Imbox between 2pm and 4pm Monday through Friday.
- Advanced Labeling - HEY will currently let users automatically apply labels to emails based on the Sender, which is helpful 30% of the time. But many of the people I email are working with me on multiple projects. With Gmail, I could apply a label based on a search term, which was good enough 99% of the time. If I'm working on a project called "Purple", applying a label to that search term would generally ensure that all emails about that project would end up in the right place.
- A fun HEY-like way for responding inline to bullet point email - This is one of those instances in which I don't know the solution I'm looking for, but I do know the problem. For my work, I often use email for lengthy back-and-forth contract negotiations in which one party will email a series of bullet points, and, typically, the other party responds inline, in another color, with their counter. Currently, HEY has some unfortunate limitations with inline replies. But perhaps this is an opportunity for HEY to do something that only HEY can do to make these kinds of emails easier to draft and edit, at least for HEY users. I don't know how, I'll leave that to the HEY team.
- Read Together & Additional Triage Options - HEY's Read Together toggle for new emails in the Imbox is a good first step. But, unless a user simply wants to mark every email as as seen, which, at least for me, is rarely the case, its usefulness is limited. If HEY could add overlays as one scrolls this feed for Reply Later or Set Aside that would be a solid improvement. Even better would be a way to add quick replies or Work Notes right there in Read Together.
- Advanced Editing in Focus & Reply - Similarly, HEY's Focus & Reply feed is a great first step, but, too often I need to change CCs, or use formatted text, and neither is currently possible in Focus & Reply. Also, sometimes I save email to Reply Later when what I really want to do is add a Work Note, not reply to the email, and that's also not currently possible in Focus & Reply.
- Snippets / Templates - Many email programs, including Gmail, will now let users save commonly used snippets of text that can be summoned when writing new emails or replying. This is definitely a feature that I regularly used on Superhuman, and greatly miss now. Snippets should come to HEY for You and HEY for Work, but, for Work users, Snippets should be selectively available to the entire company.
- Navigation Improvements - I’m not quite sure why, but HEY often kicks me back to my Imbox when I’m not ready to go back. This happens if I’m in a list of search results and want to poke in and out of emails, or if I want to do something like send a contact to the Paper Trail and bundle up those emails. In each of these instances, HEY forces me back to the Imbox after each mouse click. To say this is annoying would be an understatement. I don't know if this is a limitation of Ruby on Rails or the nature of the web wrapper, but that's not my problem to figure out. It's just not a good user experience and Basecamp should fix it.
- Calendar - This one is a bit of a cheat as it may be a little outside the scope of an email client, but Jason and DHH have spoken regularly about how broken calendars are, particularly the notion that anyone can just grab your time and attention from you at their will. I'm not sure what this product would look like, but anything that helps me protect my time and looks at scheduling in a fundamentally new way would be exciting.
- HEY for families - While I'm cheating, let me add in an 11th bullet. My wife and I each use HEY but I can't use any of the great HEY for Work features with her. It would be great if HEY let me designate family members and, for those people, we could have access to the same collaborative features available in HEY for Work.
There you go, there's my list of ten, er, eleven. Hopefully some of these items will go from merely a wish to a wish fulfilled.
What would you like to see in BC4? Please let me know on Twitter @danielkuney. Also, check out my post: 4 Pain Points Our Team Would Like Basecamp to Tackle in BC4