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WWW… Wednesday! HEY

by Taylor Slattery | November 15, 2022

Once upon a time, the thought of being able to write a letter and instantaneously deliver it to someone on the other side of the world was revolutionary. For many, email served as an introduction to the internet and it’s something we still use on a daily basis both personally and professionally. Whether for conducting business, contacting loved ones, or staying up to date with the latest information via newsletters, email’s reliability has made it a staple part of our lives.

However, at some point, something changed. What was once exciting became something we dread. The never-ending inbox became a source of stress and the ability to be reached at any moment conditioned us to habitually check our inboxes dozens of times a day. On top of that, an influx of spam and the introduction of unsolicited advertisements delivered directly to our inboxes slowly started to change the way we feel about email as a whole.

37signals, makers of the popular project management tool, Basecamp, saw this shift in sentiment toward email taking place and decided to do something about it. Their solution, HEY, is email reimagined. For those who have used Basecamp, you’ll already be familiar with 37signals’ design philosophy as it pertains to tools and productivity. The beauty of both Basecamp and HEY lies in their simplicity. By focusing on keeping their tools as intuitive as possible and utilizing behaviors most are already familiar with, their tools are approachable to a wide range of users of varying levels of technical savvy.

That isn’t to say that HEY is lacking when it comes to features—far from it. HEY builds upon the years of experience and lessons learned from Basecamp and listing all of its features here would make this article much longer than it needs to be, so I’ll just list a few of my favorites. The first being the ability to screen emails. Gmail does a decent job of this but still makes mistakes. Sometimes you’ll be waiting days for an email to arrive only to find it had arrived days earlier but was somehow flagged as spam, meanwhile, blatant solicitors find their way to the top of your unread list. HEY allows you to screen your emails in the same way your phone allows you to screen calls and uses your feedback to determine how future mail from this sender is labeled.

Aside from HEY’s improvements to security and privacy, they’ve managed to think up a whole host of new behaviors that are sure to change the way you use email forever. For starters, with HEY, emails function more like threads than they do traditional emails, with a few nice-to-have additions. You can group similar emails together and invite collaborators to the thread as a whole so they can quickly get up to speed without you needing to forward a whole backlog of emails for context. As the conversation progresses, you can change the subject line of the thread to give it a title more reflective of where the conversation is at present, rather than being stuck with the initial subject line that may make it harder to find.

Another great addition is HEY’s utilization of feed-based layouts for quickly getting up to speed with things like newsletters and specific designations reserved for emails that are still waiting on a reply, so you can tackle them all at once in a more focused work session. In a similar vein, HEY’s attachment library allows you to browse all of the files you receive or send via email in a single place so you don’t have to track down any specific email to find what you’re looking for—a massive time saver.

HEY is free to try for 14 days. You can learn more about it and sign up here.


Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.


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