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dimanche 20 mars 2011

Evangelism: training users to use Gmail

Administrators should encourage people to use Gmail web interface (Gmail/web for short). Why? Less work. Do you want to handle Outlook/Thunderbird/Mail.app… problems on top of Gmail? Trust me, you don’t. I have my share of Mail.app issue (bad encoding, winmail.dat issues; both were perfectly handled by Gmail/web). Let alone Outlook.

Plus, a mail interface means minimal hassle for reading their mail on an mobile device (still some, because Google has different layout depending on the device). If users only use computers, no hassle at all (apart for the occasional resolution changing stuff).

First step: briefing with Boss

  1. Ask if it is OK for photo to appear on mail from employees. Say it make the company more humane or stuff like this. There is no bad answers, just be sure to know.
  2. Check if there is any Firefox- or IE- exclusive feature (that would prevent using Chrome, but don’t talk about Chrome, except if Boss is tech-savvy—Chrome is more responsive than Firefox 4 beta and support desktop and chat notifications; with other browser, one has to download external notifiers)
  3. Ask or prepare policy for signature
  4. Ask or prepare policy for default fonts and colour
  5. Ask if Boss is okay for you having a backdoor to users’ mail account (sensitive topic, explain this is for maintenance reasons). A positive answer is better as it will make you job easier but don’t be surprised if you get a “no”.

Second step: configuring

In order to optimise the experience, you’ll have to tweak Gmail first. Don’t count too much on automated deploiment—I heard Google Apps Premier is not much better here. The following operations will have to be made by hand on each account. Sorry, no answer file thus far…

Everything is in Settings.

  1. [General] Select the proper language
  2. [General] Activate shortcuts
  3. [General] [Depending on briefing] Activate Chat notifications and Desktop notifications
  4. [General] [Depending on briefing] Add a picture (or not)
  5. [General] Force sending in UTF-8 (die, pre-UTF8 encodings, die!)
  6. [Account] [Depending on briefing] Grant access to yourself (buggy with Google Apps–not Google regular–as of March 2011)
  7. [Forwarding] Deactivate POP, activate IMAP (POP sucks)
  8. [Labs] Activate Apps Search, if they use Google Docs (do yourself a favour, make them use it)
    send feedback to Google about it
  9. [Labs] Activate Canned Responses. Requires proper training. Prepare training before enabling, because it is visible.
    send feedback to Google about it
  10. [Labs] Activate Default ‘reply to all’. Fewer people will bug you if this lab is on rather than off.
    send feedback to Google about it
  11. [Labs] Activate Default text styling. You hate HTML mail, but they don’t… Make it easier for them to adapt to Gmail by telling them they can change the default font. Be sure to first check with Boss about any existing policy.
    send feedback to Google about it
  12. [Labs] Activate Don’t forget Bob. So far, I did not have any feedback from my users. I should communicate on this feature. Useful for informal group mailing (contact group is still better but it requires some work on their address book)
    send feedback to Google about it
  13. [Labs] Activate Flickr previews in mail, Google Docs previews in mail, Picasa previews in mail, Google Maps previews in mail. At worst, they won’t see them. At best, they will like them.
    send feedback to Google about Flickr preview, Google Docs preview, Picasa preview, Google Maps preview
  14. [Labs] Activate Got the wrong Bob?. Another useful feature to communicate on.
    send feedback to Google about it
  15. [Labs] Activate Inserting images. Talk about it during the drag-and-drop part (where you will talk about drag-and drop attachment).
    send feedback to Google about it
  16. [Labs] Activate Nested Labels. Again, something natural (at least for one of my users). For some times now, it had been possible to create nested folder with a GUI. Be sure to show them the GUI way!
    send feedback to Google about it
  17. [Labs] Activate Pictures in chat. Useless but appreciated
    send feedback to Google about it
  18. [Labs] Activate Undo Send. Definitely something to communicate upon. I tend to configure it to 30 seconds (you'll have to go back to general for this), but that’s just me.
    send feedback to Google about it
  19. [Labs] Activate Video chat enhancements. It’s a double-sided sword. Useful for video chatting, but you’d better have a good computer and a good connection..
    send feedback to Google about it

Finally, place a shortcut on their desktop and on the quicklaunch (Windows XP-Vista), taskbar (Windows 7) or Dock (Mac OS X).

Notice I am well aware of several other labs (I use a lot of them myself). But they impact to much the interface for an average user who should not even know there are labs on.

Also: I know that labs may disappear.

Third step : training

This is where the fun begins. Show some thematics. Go crescendo, with something expected at the beginning and surprises at the end. Use two computers (one for sending, one for receiving).

Prepare two computers (Computer A and Computer B), with window not taking full screen on Computer B. Prepare an image and a doc file on the desktop, close to the window. Also be sure to use a used gmail account (so that it will have memory of who you mail the most, it will come in handy when demonstrating the two Bob features) and that computer has Gmail as HTML composing (or else, the attach image won't work).

Also: know which Mail client is used in the company (usually Outlook) and prepare a list of all the differences in philosophy.

Finally, prepare a printed summary for every attendant, summing up the main point. And when inviting people to the training, ask them to bring something to take notes (even though you’ll give them a printed summary).

Round one: Reply to a mail
  1. [Computer B] Login
  2. [Computer B] Show the interface. Tells that it auto-refreshes and that there is even better.
  3. [Computer A] Send a message with another of your address in Cc and an attachment (the audience does not need to see; click on a link to override undo send).
  4. [Computer B] Let Desktop notification do its job (if they don’t want Chrome, get a Firefox extension).
  5. [Computer B] Open the mail
  6. [Computer B] Show attachment visualisation for those in Google Docs (be sure to have trained on Google Docs before or at least to have planned to move to Google Docs)
  7. [Computer B] Get the attachment out with drag-and-drop of attachments off the mail doesn’t work by clicking the icon or the Download link
  8. Reply with reply to all (which is default). Delete the reply with the delete button and reply again now with a (tell the f will do the same for forwarding). Make sure to “forget” to write Thank you.. Show the audience that the mail is not saved. Dont save it, show this screenshot about quickreply then go back to the computer and show how the message had been saved meanwhile.
  9. Attach an image via drag-and-drop and an attachment the same way
  10. Send it with the send button, tells the audience your forgot to say Thank you and undo the sending with the link. Add Thank you then send. Explain it is setup to wait 10/20/30 seconds (depending on what you chose) except if you perform an action on the windows (closing it or clicking a link).
  11. Once back in inbox, show the archive button and say how important it is. Finish by opening a read mail, and delete it with the Delete button. Cancel the action and delete it again with #/
Round two: New mail
  1. Compose a new mail with New message. Select the address by clicking on To and show contact groups (tell that contact groups won’t be covered this time; it will be for another session, with filtering). Show links for Cc and Bcc. Delete it with the button (# doesn't work for drafts). Compose again, but now with c and send it with tab + enter.
  2. Create a new mail (again with c, so that they see it better). This time, enter the address by hand. Enter some person you usually mail together and, after three such person, voluntarily chose someone who does not belong to that group, in order to invoke Got the wrong Bob?
  3. Delete the addresses, start again with some people you usually mail together. Add them until Don’t forget Bob starts up. As for the previous tip, it may take some time to have it work.
  4. Type a message like I attached the result. Do not actually attach anything. Send (with Tab + enter, for good measure).
  5. Show the audience the forgotten attachment detector working!
Round three: Organisation
  1. Start by saying that one the main idea in Gmail is to have an empty inbox. It eases the mind and help getting more organised (note: the Sentbox, can’t be emptied that way; this will be a surprise for Outlook users).
  2. Show how to create a label. Go to a message, click on label, type Urgent, create. Show that now the label lives on the left column.
  3. Show multiple labels. Go back to the message, select label again and start typing Partners, a label you will already have created; then check it, click apply). Show the audience that the message now belong to two label at the same time.
  4. Create nester label. Don’t show direct nested label creation (typing foo/bar), because it is nerdy enough and even power users will be content with a two-step creation).
  5. Show drag-and-drop assignment. Select the message and drag it to a third label on the left. Show the highlighting, the fact that it is now out of the inbox and the Cancel link. Cancel and do it again.
  6. This time, go to the said label, select the message and show how it belongs to the label. Hover over the label and click it to show the filter by label view. Go back with the mouse (so that they see the action of going back), in order to show that you can navigate back and forth.
  7. Show how to remove the label with the small cross (show also that if removed, it won’t go back to inbox but will go to All messages: the only way is to search for it then open it and click Put in inbox; this is complicated, so don’t mention it)
  8. Show delegation with grant access for assistant (extra page with video). If you also granted access to yourself, tell it!
  9. Hint at filters, but don’t actually show how to create one. Just sum up what can be done (only get unread messages, auto-sorting without marking them as read, auto-prioritising, sub-addresses…). Say there tools for better catching important mails, but that would require another session and you prefer them to be comfortable with Gmail before going further.
Round four: Customisation
  1. Go to Settings, General and show that Default new styling is possible, as well as changing signature (but first check with Boss) and vacation responder.
  2. Show canned responses.
  3. Show how to fetch mail from other account. Don’t actually do it, just show the potability. If they have a need for it, either they’ll do it by themselves or they’ll call you. People willing to retrieve several mails on the same account are already a bit geeky and so will probably be able to do it by themselves. So, you’ll do yourself and your audience a favour by not delving much into it.
Conclusion

Say something like there is much more to say, so I suggest setting up a new session in, say, one month, for dealing with sorting, fast scanning, canned responses, security and address book. There you will talk about what had been left out as well as remote logout (forgot to logout at the public library? Now it's your chance).

Note to self: fast scanning is next/previous conversation (message if conversation view is disabled), with k and j, as well as enabling the quick preview lab feature.