The small things that make a product delightful

Gmail and Chrome have been hitting usability high notes for me, making them just fun (“delightful” even) to use.  Here are two examples just from this past week.

Gmail auto-detected that this message was sent to a mailing list (not me directly), and offered to filter by that mailing list.  Since I’m on a lot of mailing lists, this is extremely helpful.

Another example is in Google Chrome.  When you search for a string of text in the page or page source, it shows not just the first match but also the number of matches.  Since I often care more about the number of matches than the first match, this saves a ton of clicks.  On this page, for example, which has 26 matches to my search, this saves about 24 clicks over finding the equivalent result in IE or Firefox, which is an order of magnitude.

It’s these small things, taken together, that make Gmail my favorite mail client, and Chrome my favorite browser.  This is also why I don’t bother to explain to people in big sweeping terms why I like these products.  I just tell them to try for a few days, and see what they think.
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