Usability - Email and Subject Lines
I heavily rely on incoming email subject lines to quickly scan topics from discussion lists, clients and friends, to later find information, and to provide an at-a-glance overview of the email’s contents. If the subject is non-descriptive, incorrect, or non-existent, it slows me down. In fact, if a subject line is missing, my email program filters are set to dump the message into the trash bin.
How about you? Do you rely on email subject lines? Webword’s John Rhodes researched this and overviews his findings and also provides an in depth downloadable report (free). Here are a few key points from the report:
- Email subject lines should be short. Our research indicates that the shorter the subject line the better it is.
- Email responses (messages prefixed by RE:) are important to people.
- Forwarded email messages (prefixed by FW: and FWD:) are not as critical or important to people in relation to other messages.
- The use of ALL CAPS only marginally improves usability. It seems to be a non-factor compared to the other factors.
- Position of an email in a list of other emails is not relevant.