I like hotmail. I’ve had my account for more than 10 years, and it’s been my primary account for that long too. I don’t know why I got it in the first place, but it wasn’t because of the user interface. I think it was mostly because all my friends had one. I also created other email accounts with aol, gmail, and yahoo so that they would be used when I needed to sign up for things online.
Not too long ago I remembered Yahoo improved their email interface design. They added a lot of cognitive affordances. A cognitive affordance improves human mental/thinking capabilities. For example, icons and pull down menus. As you can see in the picture to the left, my hotmail (Outlook) account has no icons, other than the plus sign, that help the user improve it’s thinking capabilities. It’s just simply has links with words. As a long time user, I am already accustomed to this, but if I were a new user, I’d have to read through each link to find what I’m looking for. If we look at the bottom picture, Yahoo has done a great job applying appropriate icons to each link. If I’m looking for the delete button, I’d only have to look for a trash-can icon. It makes it faster and easier for me to do what I want to do.
I’m actually very surprised that Outlook has not implemented icons. It would make everything a lot easier for the user. I really like Yahoo’s user friendly email, and I’m really thinking of using it more often now that I have looked into cognitive affordances.