Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why Gmail (and Google) will win

It can be frustrating to explain to people who haven't used it why Gmail is so much better than every other web-based email client (YahooMail, Hotmail) and computer-based email client (Outlook Express, Eudora).

Then I read Google's War on Hierarchy, and the Death of Hierarchical Folders and now I feel vindicated.

I'm right. Google's way will win. It really is better and easier. Folder structures create work for users. Searching doesn't.

The article looks at three examples of hierarchy versus search:
  • Web directories versus web search
  • Email folders versus email search
  • Computer folders versus computer (desktop) search
Google's search philosophy has already won in web site finding. It is now pushing that philosophy in email. And Google Desktop will so the same in computer file search.

This is not to say that Google will dominate. Other companies can simply adopt Google's "search, don't sort" mantra. But "search, don't sort" is what we will all be doing in the future.

Anyway, read the article. Here's a snipit:

Hierarchical Folders have dominated info organization since they first appeared over 40 years ago. But in industry after industry, a strange thing is happening: hierarchy is under severe attack, and even dying out.

Just take a look at some of the most successful info-based businesses of all time:

* Yahoo's Web Directory
* Microsoft Outlook's email folders
* Microsoft Window's file system

All three businesses have achieved enormous success using hierarchical nested folders. And yet, one of these businesses has already abandoned Hierarchies, and the other two Hierarchies are under attack.

The company behind all three of these attacks? Google, the web's leading search engine.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Okay, if this is your philosophy, put your money where your mouth is. Remove the hierarchical "Blog Archive" tree in your sidebar and replace it with a Google site search box. :)