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Kanban for E-Mail (kanbanmail.app)
300 points by humbfool2 on July 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 135 comments

I'm not sure what the research shows on this sort of thing, but when I loaded up the landing page on my desktop browser, I saw two buttons, and neither applied to me. "SIGN UP" and "LOG IN". Since I did not yet know what this thing is, beyond my vague knowledge of Kanban and email, I wanted it to explain that to me. Instead, I have to take action.

Oh wait... after a while I look for a UI element - a scroll bar. And this is the only clue I get to tell me how to navigate. Is this a good design choice, to make it appear like your only options are one of two actions, while relying on a native browser control to hint to the user that they can scroll to get down to the information they are going to need to start making decisions?

(I'm not arguing that this can't be a good design choice, but at least for me, personally, it seemed pushy, while also being unintuitive if you're not there to take one of those actions.)

Typically there are two affordances that tell the user he can scroll:

1) A scroll bar

2) Clipped content

Many browsers hide the scroll bar, so the only thing left is 2).

For some reason designers think that it's a good idea to scale the content in such a way that the initial page load looks like a complete page.

This is so idiotic! You are actively misleading the customer! You are hiding all the marketing copy.

Some designers have realised this is a problem, and they add a little arrow to indicate you can scroll. Nobody understands those weird arrows except other designers.

The easiest way to tell users that there is more content is to show it! Make it so that part of the second headline is visible, and noone will miss the fact that there is more content below!

If you go for sexy screenshots, sure, go make your first section fill the browser window. If you want your visitors to read your page, don't do that!

Interesting. I’m pretty sensitive to UX but this has never been a problem for me. I don’t come across single non scrolling static websites that often, and knowing that the entire content will most likely never be at the top, I immediately scroll down without thinking.

I find it extremely fascinating that some people actually have to look for a scroll bar or clipped content (spoon fed) in order to scroll down. Sometimes I don’t even know there is one unless I have to speed drag on a long page.

The "spoon fed" bit is insulting. People are not infants if they don't guess that there's an invisible thing.

If designers want people to know something exists, they should generally make it visible. Especially given that with pages like this one, deemphasizing or hiding things is a common dark pattern to force people to think there are no alternatives.

> I don’t come across single non scrolling static websites that often

google.com comes to mind.

Actually, now that this post curiously made me look: https://duckduckgo.com/ ACTUALLY has content below the initial search form. I have been visiting that page for a very long time now and I actually never knew that until testing it right now to add to above list. Wow.

aside: not sure why you included the word "static" in there, since it's kind of irrelevant to what users see. Maybe you meant it in a different way than most people take it, which usually means the site looks the same to all users.

> I’m pretty sensitive to UX but this has never been a problem for me.

> I find it extremely fascinating that some people actually have to look for a scroll bar or clipped content (spoon fed) in order to scroll down.

This demonstrates serious lack of sensitivity as you're unable to look beyond your own immediate usage.

age, every one has different life experience

As a web dev and designer myself I can't agree with you any more. People outside of design and development often seem obsessed with the "first fold" containing everything needed but it's not always the best approach, this is a perfect case.

Before I read the comment you replied to I myself too thought that I'd need to open the Inspect Element Editor to kill the modal hiding the example page / example image of the "Kaban Email", even if it were just an image I wanted to see what it looked like and if it seemed like something I'd enjoy / benefit from using.

#2 can be tricky. Since everyone's screens can be of different sizes and resolutions, its hard to have a "perfect" layout that always clips the next bit of content on every single screen.

It's not very hard these days. You can use height: 90vh (the page is using 100vh) and set min-height as appropriate. vh unit is a percentage relative to the viewport height and is already universally supported[1].

[1]: https://caniuse.com/#search=vh

This is awesome, thanks! I would have killed for this years ago.

I would imagine its the opposite; you have to try pretty hard to make your content fit perfectly. Putting no effort should naturally lead to a misfit, and thus clipping, unless you have a lot of empty space.

One potential solution to that is to have a 'fade out' gradient effect at the bottom of the screen, which signals to the user that they need to scroll down to see the rest of the page.

> Many browsers hide the scroll bar

On touch devices, yes. On desktop, not really. I think Safari on OS X is the only one, all others (basically everything on Windows and Linux) always show scroll bars on scrollable content. And on touch devices, users tend to try scroll quite readily, so I don't think clipped content is a necessity.

However, artificially stretching content to the fold is still against the idea of a (scrollable) website.

On the Mac, virtually all applications, including the major web browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox), do this. You can change it with a setting, but the system default is to auto-hide all scrollbars.

Chrome on macOS hides scroll bars, too.

defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleShowScrollBars -string "Always"


This setting in terminal will always show scroll bars.

Also this:

System Preferences > General > Show scroll bars: Always

I read a good article once (can’t seem to find it, I’ll link it if I do) where a UX designer had a similar reaction to a website. He was angry that he needed to provide an email address to access the “show me what this tool even is” part of a website. He concluded it was bad UX and wrote an angry tweet.

Turns out the UX of the website had been user tested extensively. The design they chose was the most successful at achieving their goal (new user signup or something).

The learning lesson was you may not be the target user for the design. Or you may not realize what the primary goal of the design is.

Edit: This was the article I referenced https://medium.theuxblog.com/there-are-no-ux-best-practices-...

To clarify I wasn't trying to defend dark / grey UX patterns. Just thought I'd share as it helped me look at (what I consider) bad UX in a different frame of mind.

Oh, I think everyone complaining knows precisely what's the goal of this design. This is a "grey" pattern - not very dark, but sort of signalling that the people you're dealing with do not have your well-being in mind. Not evil, just not nice.


If a user doesn't understand something that a designer has worked to make hard to understand, that's bad UX, not good UX. If the phrase "user experience" is to have any meaning at all, the analysis has to be centered in the user's values, not the designer's.

As an example, if a mark is taken in by a well-executed pigeon drop [1], one could call plausibly call it a well-designed scam. But one cannot call it good UX.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_drop

“Help, there is this defective machine, it made a loud noise and a piece of metal emerged and lodged itself in my abdomen. It is unsafe, a very bad design!”

“Well, actually, it is a gun, and it is a very good design for its intended purpose. It’s just that the manufacturer does not have your interests in mind.”

> The design they chose was the most successful at achieving their goal (new user signup or something).

Sounds like they didn't define their goals well. I bet that would lead to a lot of people signing up just to learn more and then abandoning their accounts.

Personally, I provide fake info/email address to sign up on sites when it is required but never plan to return to the site. Do they get more signups this way? Yes, but it is probably a low quality user group and not likely to convert further.

> The learning lesson was you may not be the target user for the design. Or you may not realize what the primary goal of the design is.

A bad design doesn’t get better just because there are excuses that explain why it’s like this. It’s hard to justify that "Someone visiting my website to get info about my product" is not a target user.

Agree, also it is terrible UX if it is not apparent when you can not decide for yourself whether you are the target user. It isn't hard and it saves from these two scenarios:

1. Oh, this isn't for me, glad I found that out quickly - saved me lots of frustration.

2. Yeah, I'm not the target audience for this but I know of another niche where this is useful despite that - I might actually try it out!

It also gives a very bad impression of the company to actively not caring about frustrating users they are not interested in.

Seems I paraphrased the article poorly, here are the actual key points:

1. Never assume you know more about a design than the company that made it.

2. You don’t know the problem that the design is solving.

3. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have data to back it up.

4. You don’t have to be right to be a good designer. You just have to listen when you’re wrong.

5. Always test. Always.

6. There are no UX best practices.

In general I tend to align with you though. Do right by the user, and its probably the right thing for your company too!

If the problem the design solves is the designer's problem but not the user's problem, then it is definitionally a bad user experience.

You could call it a well-executed exploitative design, I suppose, but you can't call good UX when the U has an X that is by their lights bad. And even calling it "good design" only works if one thinks design has absolutely no ethics built in.

As a comparison, you can't really call what Josef Mengele did "good medicine". It doesn't matter how technically skilled he was or how much he accomplished for his employers, because medicine is deeply and explicitly patient-centered. Many designers believe that unethical use of design skills is flat out bad design, no matter how much money it makes.

Came here to say this. I really don't like this UI/UX trend of "If the user isn't smart enough to test and see if they can scroll, screw 'em!". Apple did something similar in their Podcasts app (when you are playing a podcast, it turns out you can scroll down on the "card" to see a lot of additional features. It took me months to discover this, and reminded me of the months it took me to discover that the Calculator app can rotate into a scientific calculator).

I guess I'm not smart enough then, or maybe I am too old. Along these lines I also just recently discovered that when viewing photos on an iphone you can scroll and see more info about a photo (geo, related pics, etc). I only discovered this by watching my 3 year old play with my phone a few weeks ago. What else have I been missing?

this is for hn users...you can assume we know. Plus its an mvp, who cares about landlords page.

“That depends.”

Some MVPs presume that some instruction and filtering of users takes place outside of the app. In my company, we make “early access” versions of features that presume there is a product manager talking to an early access customer and walking them through its use.

Other times a feature is being launched to a wider audience, and we cannot presume they know anything about it. In that case, if it doesn’t interest them and inform them enough to use it, it is not really viable.

So... I neither agree nor disagree with you about MVPs not caring about landing pages. I think we need more context. Perhaps for the purpose of “Show HN,” it is a fine MVP. But perhaps it is not a good MVP for the purpose of my tweeting “Check this cool app out.”

who cares about landlords page

I really hope this is just autocorrect getting hilariously overzealous, heh.

I _am_ an HN user, and the landing page absolutely does matter for an MVP. The issue here is that they went to all of the trouble to make a landing page, then hid it from their users. The parent of this thread was tipped off by noticing his scrollbar, but it was worse for me -- Chrome hides the scrollbar. I opened the link, saw a barren a paywall / loginwall, closed the tab, and started to write a post questioning the decision to post a barren paywall to HN. Then I thought "wait a minute, maybe I can scroll...", and opened up the tab again.

That's not the first impression they want.

Thank you for saying this for "the rest of us" who also find this incredibly unintuitive, counterproductive, and off-putting!

Let's see if I have this right: so, apparently this false "full page" design gets more people to sign up than if it were clear there was more content on the page? Is that right?

So following that logic, wouldn't you get yet even more sign-ups if it actually was just a full page Signup/Login choice? I mean, the "secret" content that the initial appearance is trying to "hide" can't possibly be helping the signup counts, can it? Otherwise you'd just have a "normal" page with clipped content that can clearly be scrolled, wouldn't you?

What I mean is, I can't understand the existance of more content except to "reward" visitors who either notice the scrollbar or (apparently) try to scroll on every page they encounter.

Please help me connect the dots, oh Monochromatic Lords of the Grey Pattern!

I think you are absolutely right.

If someone is not interested in the two options they have - done by purpose to increase sign ups - they will try something else like scrolling; which in this case is more information about the product.

I don't like it, but that's my understanding.

I had already closed the tab since it didn't seem like there was a way to get more info. I discovered I could scroll by reading this comment.

So I don't think it's a good design choice, no.

Funnily enough I came across the same thing today. I was browsing for a new switch game and came across http://www.fallenlegiongame.com/.

My first thought was that if you have to put a moving sign saying "scroll down ya dummy", then maybe you shouldn't be designing pages like this? But hey, at least they tell you to do it, unlike most others.

It's certainly a dark pattern. The area is purpose made to look like a modal has take over the page and left you with two options. That area even adjusts to the window size furthering the effect.

For me, this was a self-explanatory app. Just seeing the background image told me everything I needed to know.

sure, but enough to sign up?

not for me, but maybe for my co-worker

The "false bottom" thing is pretty well covered in UX/Conversion optimization circles. See, e.g. https://conversionxl.com/blog/false-bottom/

I am amazed by how astonishingly bad that article took to heart it's topic. I thought the article was super short when I reached the embedded Rebecca Gordon quote because I just assumed that was an "about the author" box that I could ignore.

I also don't really pay attention to "return to top" buttons, but while reading their section on why displaying such buttons before the end of the article is a bad idea I glanced to the right and noticed a "return to top" button.

A lot of the points in the article are well thought out, and I'm a bit fan of cut content myself but... they're hilariously bad at listening to their own advice.

I think this is is just a first version of an MVP launch without much UX research. I wouldn't assume all the design details have a well-thought intention behind. And I wouldn't be too harsh judging the design choices.

It may just reflect some explicit or implicit assumptions of the founder who is much more focused on the product itself than on the sales experience or onboarding flow. A good sign, in my opinion, to be honest.

And between giving too much and too little prominence to CTA buttons, I would err on the too much side.

i did try to find something of interest in the tinted background image while my mouse was travelling to the close button. i didn't.

Man, I actually left before I realized I needed to scroll. I went back and looked at it after I read your comment.

I look forward to the first Show HN post where the top comment is not a minor UX quibble.

Then you're in luck. This isn't a minor UX quibble. It's a dog shit UX approach that attempts to fool users into signing up before they get introduced to the product at all. It's not the worst approach ever, it's merely intentionally somewhat abusive.

Honest question: how did you not get what the app was about almost immediately?

Oh I got it. But that was not enough for me to Sign Up.

I still need to know...

- on which devices will this work?

- what email hosting / APIs does this support?

- do I like the UI?

- do I like the web site UI and think it'll translate to the app... ?

- does this cost me something, such as a subscription or time clicking through ads?

- will I actually like this UI for my email over what I do now?

It wasn't obvious for me either. I also didn't get the scrolling element. It seems to be a merge of emails and todo? Still not really clear. Perhaps an introduction video could help? I'm also concerned on information security. There could be a really clever solution how full privacy and match prioritising emails. Senders and subject lines are sensitive.

At work I currently get 1000-2000 email per day, of which about 500 need personal attention, including calendar invites. This sounds horrendous, and it ain't great, but Outlook is surprisingly adept at rule setting, being really responsive, and integrated with Office (and to a lesser extent Skype, OC was more pleasurable for the from a UX perspective) to make this manageable.

I've used Kanban type of task management sparingly so it was not immediately obvious what it could do for e-mail.

This is neat, and I could see it potentially being a useful way to categorize and organize e-mail, though I personally find e-mail clients that allow for deferral/scheduling sufficient for my needs.

However this trend of using lean and Toyota production system terminology to sell stuff that has no real relationship to it is starting to get tired.

None of these card column systems has any real relationship to the Kanban process outside of the use of cards. The similarities tend to end at a completely superficial level.


Rule #1 of Kanban is that it is a "pull" system. By design e-mail is push. It would also be difficult to limit work-in-progress here, which is another cornerstone feature of a Kanban system.

The Kanban the author is using is "software development Kanban", not "lean manufacturing Kanban". There is a subtle but useful distinction. Most of the people who use TPS-derived methods in IT are actually using models that were adapted over time in software development lifecycles. The names are the same, but they're actually different processes. (I find this annoying too, I'm just giving context for why this is) A more accurate term for the author's board may be "Scrumban", but I'm not a Scrum or Agile expert by any means.

You can use e-mail as a sort-of pull-based JIT system. You're constantly getting new resources, but you can't necessarily use them all immediately or action them all at once. So you stage the work in planning, and "pull" work into "doing" when you're ready. The lifecycle continues until an item ends up "completed" and archived.

I don't think work-in-progress is all that difficult to manage with e-mail, as your e-mails are basically feature requests or alerts that lead to a story, and once the story is planned and ready for working, you can determine what a suitable work limit is. The author's e-mail model may need a bit of modifying to create actual stories rather than just tracking an e-mail, which may not be enough in itself to begin working on.

Work is still meant to be pulled in software development Kanban. WIP limits are still a key feature.

They are different processes because Kanban is not the process, it is the mechanism for displaying the work in progress.

>Rule #1 of Kanban is that it is a "pull" system. By design e-mail is push. It would also be difficult to limit work-in-progress here, which is another cornerstone feature of a Kanban system.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. To rephrase it slightly, an email inbox is essentially an opt-out model. Any person anywhere can put something in your inbox, and after reviewing/getting sufficiently annoyed you can opt-out from receiving their emails (marking them as spam, forwarding to trash, etc.)

Personally I've been interested in seeing how an opt-in inbox model would perform. Every email goes to spam and/or a review bucket, and then once a week (or whenever you feel like it) the user can skim the bucket for emails from people/lists they actually want to see, and approve them. Follow up emails from those address can then go straight to the inbox with out need for review.

This might not work for every use case, but I suspect I'd like this for my personal email use. No matter how many times I unsubscribe from an email list or service, a new one takes its place without me signing up for it. I think I would find significant less frustration being able to opt-in vs opt-out.

Google Inbox basically does this automatically for me. It has learned which email addresses I correspond with for work and other important topics, which it pushes directly to my inbox. It also automatically bins other emails into categories such as forums, commercial promos, social (newsletters and what not), which arrive in a single bundle each morning or each Monday morning. These bundles can be opened to see individual emails or archived as a bundle with a single click.

Definitely feels like an opt-in experience to me, and far better than previous email solutions I used.

Well, just treat your current inbox as your review bucket; and create another tag "approved" as your approved things. Every day you review your incoming messages and tag it approved.

I’m glad you mentioned this. I worked on an email client like this for a bit, but I found email difficult to work with. Basically I wanted to be able to whitelist important senders and have those emails appear to my desktop, then the rest I could get to when I had time to open my inbox.

I know ahead of time who I want to be able to reach me immediately. My boss, his boss, my team and my girlfriend. Everyone else can wait.

> Rule #1 of Kanban is that it is a "pull" system. By design e-mail is push.

Mine isn't though.. emails just sit there (on the server or in the mbox) until I 'pull' (handle) them. =)

While it's clear that the WIP limit isn't featured, I can't clearly see the distinction between email being push and traditional Kanban being pull.

I think that the push and pull being different are being applied to different things. Work is pulled into the resource that does the work. The push aspect of email is more akin to orders for products, which even in traditional Kanban systems is based on external demand and not production capacity, so also push, in a sense.

So, for a pull model for email, how would that work? I’d log in and see a “give me a ready for work task” that would give me an email to triage?

As Getting Things Done taught us, our inbox is not our to-do list. For example, in the screenshot at the top of the landing page: what action do I take on "Jennifer: Privacy Policy draft #3"? So in this state this would not be a benefit to me.

But a fairly simple tweak would change the equation: a feature to process emails by converting a message into 0, 1, or multiple actions that would then go through the board. Those actions would include the email for context.

A card board that allows me to stay on top of my duties without a separate email client (and without turning my inbox into my todo list) could be a very nice tool.

Congrats on shipping this!

Most of my communication with various people/communities is done via mail. For those using Emacs:

I use a Kanban (or GTD, depending)-style workflow using Org mode and Gnus. Org mode recognizes `gnus:'-prefixed links. For certain types of mail, I use an Org capture template within Gnus which inserts a TODO item into an Org document, along with a link to the original message (which can be opened in Gnus using C-c C-o).

You can then go through your usual workflow as you would with any other item; mail is just another source of data.

Considering that the task originated via mail, chances are it'll require some back-and-forth, potentially over the course of weeks and perhaps with a handful of people involved. I also keep detailed timestamped logs of correspondence and my actions, linking to important messages as needed. This is particularly useful for large threads, since I highlight the most important information. Since I'm logging via Org mode (and not my MUA), my logs can also include any other additional information and time tracking that has nothing to do with mail, so this creates a useful timeline that combines both actions and correspondence into a single view.

Because this is married with the rest of my Org-based task management, my mail also shows up in my agenda and reporting.

This is a great setup. I used to have the same configuration, but ended up replacing Gnus with Notmuch.

I'm far from a Gnus guru, so perhaps I'm missing something, but why do you prefer Gnus to Notmuch or Mu4e?

IMHO Notmuch has a very clear MUA model. Plus it's extremely fast and simple. Everything is done via tags. Notmuch never ever touches your email. This is the task of a backend, which has to translate tag changes into Mailbox actions. I do this using a few trivial Bash one-liners, which accommodate for Gmail's unusual IMAP implementation.

Mu4e is more similar to Mutt, as it does touch email directly, allowing you to move emails across folders or delete them. I also found the interface a little bit less snappy than Notmuch.

Gnus has some great ideas, but it's quite slow and the internals are a mess. It needs some serious refactoring.

I haven't researched Notmuch, but I've heard some interesting things about it. I used to use Mutt back in the day. Whatever I use would have to have Org integration, though.

Tbh, I just haven't researched other things and I haven't had the time. But Gnus does seem to fit well how I organize my mail: I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists, each of which are filtered into their own folders via Sieve scripts, before they touch my MUA. I also organize normal mail similarly.

Yes, I used to deal with email like that. Gnus + Dovecot + Sieve.

I find Notmuch + mbsync more satisfying because of efficiency and simplicity. It's a serverless setup, config files are small, and it's very quick.

Both Notmuch and Mu4e have good Org integration, so if you want to explore that route it shouldn't be a show-stopper.

This is a late reply, but thanks for your input. I'll look into them further. What interests me is your replacing Dovecot + Sieve with your MUA; I'll have to see if I want to do that or not.

No worries. For some time, before fully transitioning to Notmuch as a MUA, I was running Gnus with just Notmuch (using nnir notmuch search backend). So no Dovecot or Sieve. A pure Maildir.

I'm not sure whether you'd loose any feature like this, I don't think I did. But perhaps it's much simpler and quicker to switch to Notmuch for Emacs.

Let me state my personal experience trying something like this. I get a ton of email on all sorts of different topics and projects that may be old or may be currently in progress.

I did something like this inside my file manager. Just download all new messages into a directory a couple times a day. Delete the junk. Put email needing to be processed into one directory. Put processed email into a different directory.

The system didn't work at all. Sure, it works great for certain tasks, like responding to "What time will we meet for lunch?" I had to add extra directories to allow archiving messages by project. An email is a piece of reference material. You appear to be constructing a walled garden that makes it hard to do anything with messages once they're inside your service. What do I do with messages that don't need a response but that provide information? How do I view past email related to a project? Hopefully the answer is not "use your regular email client".

Looks good but unless there's more than shown on this page, I don't see it yet being a solution for the people that would be willing to pay for it, if it does nothing more than sort through messages needing a reply.

I already do something like this, but with a lot of success: anything that requires an action on my end stays in my inbox and anything that I get done or is purely informational goes to a folders (typically project related).

All this seems to do is break out my inbox/"to do" into "uncategorized" and 3 other "to do" categories. I don't know if totally needed. If someone already has a problem organizing their main inbox, how are they going to stay organized with this kanban flow?

> how are they going to stay organized with this kanban flow?

That's exactly right. Processing your email does not mean you reply to every message. It means every task related to every email has been completed and you have access to that information everywhere its needed - even if you forget about it.

This workflow can already be done with good old Apple Mail. The ability to open multiple windows all showing a personalized view (both in the selection of emails and what you want to see about them) allows for this flexibility. As a bonus, the views can be compact and take up very little screen space.

I miss Lip Service from NeXTMail. The ability to quickly add an audio note to an email was very useful.

Congrats on shipping this, it looks very intriguing!

A few thoughts/ideas:

- It would be helpful to see more product screenshots/videos of it in action.

- It would also be useful to get more info on how this works and interacts with email services - perhaps easiest to add an FAQ page (this discussion thread should help get some ideas for the questions).

- I echo what some others say - that I don't necessarily know whether this would work for all my emails. I tend to find some emails would suit this process. Therefore, I'd love a Chrome extension into this, where it is a tab added in Gmail. I could process emails and move some to the kanban board for when I'm in 'action things' mode, and they are out of sight when I'm processing emails - sort of a two step process. If you had that I'd sign up to at least try this right now.

Good luck with it!

For what it is worth, this is how I use Todoist integration with my mail clients. I made categories according to GTD and assign emails to the right category. I tag them with my tags like "read/review", "reply", and other tags useful to me.

Next to that I use Todoist for regular task management. Works quite well for me. Made all these additions to email clients like "snooze" redundant.

P.s. key is to have the task management app with proper functionality which is available on your phones email clients as well as you read quite a lot of them there. This is why I chose Todoist as it integrates with my Newton email app which I use for my work mail.

Cool idea, I would like to challenge his $12/month price point.

Subscriptions I could get cheaper than $12 a month:


Youtube Red

Amazon Prime

Dollar Shave Club

All of which provide higher value than reorganizing email. I think he should price in relation to other subscription services that exist.

i take the opposite side:

even saving one hour per month with this tool is worth more than 12 usd, to me (compare hourly wage).

i just want a free month to be sure i am not giving out money to a bad product.

I love it! The thing I would like to improve is that there as a user I am a bit confused about what it is and how it can provide value to me when I land on the product's page.

* Pricing is hidden.you can only view it when clicking "join" but I do not want to click join until I know that price.

* When I land on the page I see two calls to action ("join" and "login") and no indication of if there is more content. Naturally I'd bounce from the page most of the time.

Good luck!

“Indie Maker” —- is this a new term or am I missing something about this?

It basically just means that the product isn't made by a VC-funded company. C.f.:



As a customer, the main advantages of using indie products is that there aren't investors telling the founders that they need to shut down if they don't get millions of users in the next 18 months, or that they need to start selling customer data. And if you're a big enough customer, it means potentially being able to own part of the company. (Since turning a business into a co-op and selling shares to the existing customers is a common exit strategy, but is rarely possible once a company has taken venture capital.)

> As a customer, the main advantages of using indie products is that there aren't investors telling the founders that they need to shut down if they don't get millions of users in the next 18 months, or that they need to start selling customer data.

I get that, but companies exist to get paid. And therefore a successful product will attempt to grow, which often means a change in business processes or pricing. So if I make a product like this indispensable to my workflow or company, I could be faced with a change being forced upon me when they go to scale.

All that to say I'm not 100% it's effective marketing.

> So if I make a product like this indispensable to my workflow or company, I could be faced with a change being forced upon me when they go to scale.

Sure, that risk still exists. But with indie products there are essentially three groups of stakeholders (founders, employees, customers) instead of of four (+investors), so that risk is greatly reduced.

I don’t think Indie Maker and IndieWeb are related.

However, has an arguably higher chance of outright failure.

I like the concept.

Congrats on shipping an MVP! In my humble opinion however Kanban and email are not a match.

In fact for most people (definitely for me) I believe email is a very poor backend for a todo list.

My reasoning is that your email inbox is something that anybody can add items to -- even if those items start out as uncategorized, you still need to decide whether they deserve action or not. And when you receive 100+ emails a day, that's a job in and of itself.

The essence of any prioritization system should be that it helps you focus on the most important things first. And you already know what those things are -- you don't need dozens of people proposing them to you.

My personal system is to sit down every Monday morning, think about the absolute highest impact things I need to accomplish that week, and write them down in an old fashioned paper notebook which I refer back to any time I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

Fundamentally the value I generate doesn't come from reacting to people all day, it comes from identifying outcomes that truly matter and doing whatever is necessary to advance those outcomes.

There absolutely are jobs where the inbox-as-todo model makes sense: customer service agent and certain kinds of sales rep come immediately to mind.

But I think this model where externals just keep on pushing new tasks onto you is fundamentally not a great tool to help most people generate value. Also not good for mental health.

If you have a boss, a personal assistant, a spouse or kids those are people who should probably be able to reach you immediately and easily. Outside of that I think we should generally start at zero and have to whitelist specific people. In the old days this was accomplished by giving them your phone number.

> Fundamentally the value I generate doesn't come from reacting to people all day, it comes from identifying outcomes that truly matter and doing whatever is necessary to advance those outcomes.

Amen. I've never written a performance review (or received one) applauding email reaction time. Think about it. The stuff that gets accolades are accomplishing the things that "truly matter."

You don't list anywhere on the site how it actually works. Is it IMAP?

and are there rules for sorting or do I manually move all of them? Can the columns be customized?

Lol that the hero quote is just by the founder

Yeah that's a little awkward. Should've just made it a statement instead of a quote.

This seems useful in concept but $12/mo is more than I'm willing to pay for email.

It's also unclear to me if this is a browser based email client (using imap/smtp etc.) or if it comes with it's own email address and handles final delivery/storage.

Pictures are huge and font is huge on my 1080p display. Is this just designed for a 4K audience or something? Starting to feel like the whole move towards supporting mobile should include 4k devs supporting lower resolutions too? Or is it just me...

The header font is huge and doesn't scale with the viewport, that is not a requirement for mobile/responsive design though.

I do this already with categories in Outlook, plus I use the single line view so I can see all my tasks on one screen.

I hate the trend of apps following google's lead and putting eons of white space in their apps forcing tons of scrolling to get anything done.

Chrome apparently will be updated sometime soon with a UI that adds two or three horizontal lines of white space above the tab bar, and they will be totally changing the way tabs look in general to make it much harder to differentiate different tabs. I will probably be moving to firefox after that...

Well done! I would disregard much of the criticism on here as bikeshedding and not worth much merit. Reminds me of the dropbox HN thread.

I often "hold on" to certain emails for certain reasons. Because I need to reply to them, or read them more, or am waiting on reply. I can see breaking it out into a kanban could be beneficial for that.

I would never use though; because the service will never do what I need from an email client. It'll be more like an email backed trello, and even then I would bet the providers it works with will be gmail and gmail. Even then there are things like PGP, search, exporting, that a good client offers, and then issues with data security and exposing your inbox to a third party who could do anything - from data mining, to theft; with or without intent.

But... as an app? I'd be down. Maybe not $12/mo down... but $4/mo for an email client that's both good and being improved upon would not be a bad deal for me. Maybe do personal/corporate licensing, as companies will have more money to throw at software; which would help with reaching sustainability.

Anyway, great idea and I hope it really can become something. Launching anything is hard, doing it alone even harder. To deliver something that isn't completely nonsense is almost a feat in itself.

This looks nice and kudos to the team (Ethan) behind it for shipping it!

I have tried similar tools in the past that convert Gmail into a Kanban board (https://www.sortd.com/ and https://www.dragapp.com) and have not had much success with that method of triaging emails. Perhaps it's a personal failing of my own.

This sounds like it could be potentially useful, as an alternative to unopinionated productivity tools which force you to make far too many decisions upfront. On the other hand I've never heard of Kanban and I'm not the only one. I feel like the name alone is intended to communicate what this does to a core part of your target audience, but if you've never heard of Kanban explaining that it's a "Kanban board for your emails" in the tagline doesn't make it that much clearer either.

Either way, good luck with it! I'm a screen reader user so would be interested to see how accessible and usable it is from the keyboard alone. That's also why you should read what I've said above in the context of not being able to see your visual design, which might instantly make it clear what it does.

The efficient ways of handling emails is to do it a few times a day, and then either deal with them to the point where you can delete it, or turn it into a task. (I have employees who are masters of efficiency and lean and this is their thing, but I’ve seen the benchmarks on departments where it was implemented, and it works.)

I can see how you could use kanban to do this, but most offices already have dedicated systems for handling their tasks, and honestly, even outlook tasks are better at this than a kanbanboard.

Why would you need multiple lines for an email? And why would you keep you emails on your email account, where no one else can get it, client if it’s important enough to archive?

Best of luck though, maybe there is a usecase I’m not seeing.

The privacy policy is a blank page.

Exactly. If this thing is accessing my email, I need to understand more about it, especially the privacy policy. A blank privacy policy page doesn't instill confidence.

Full privacy? LOL!

People don't subscribe there, they will steal all your emails.

Just use secure email provider like protonmail.com or even better, register your domain, and fetch emails offline to your computer as soon as they arrive.

Don't addicted to "online" storage of your personal data. Do you know those people? You have to be independent.

Who does that server really serve? http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/who-does-that-server-really-se...

And use mutt email software, the best in the world http://www.mutt.org

This looks nice!

I'm using gmail exactly like this with the "multiple inbox" experiment. I'm triaging my mails a couple of times per day and assigning them to the correct inboxes via labels (ctrl+l).

Nice job getting a landing page on the front page :-)

This is an interesting product. I've been using Google Inbox at work for the last ~6mo. I really like the snooze feature that removes an email from your inbox until a set time. I check my Inbox every few hours and try to keep it squeaky clean by snoozing emails until I plan to attack them. When something's snoozed over and over due to procrastination / poor time management, you really feel it.

How does everyone else manage their email? I don't get that many emails, probably < 10/day.

I read them and mark them as unread until I have time to deal with them.

Every once in a while I try to clear out "sections" of time such as the current day, week or month by either responding or by performing the requested task - hoping that one day I'll get my unread count down to zero. ;-)

I wish there were more information on how data is accessed / stored. The site claims that the only thing that is stored is the email address of the user, the rest lives in gmail.

Is there an app that can read all the email and then store metadata back into each thread ? Can this app 'tee' my data somewhere else without me knowing?

I guess a lot of people are not excited to give anyone else access to their email.

I use Trello for my day to day official/personal task. This idea looks good, especially when dealing emails with clients related to tasks

You can use Trllo for this as well. Each board has an associated email which converts any messages sent to it into a card.

I've created a hotkey for my email client so any email that may require an action can easily be added to the Inbox list on my GTD Trello board.

It works really well as long as I am maintaining it.

This would be neat if it were a local application.

I saw "kanban for email" and thought "ugh.", because it sounds like a very "an engineer thought of this" idea, but then I saw the product shots and the usefulness of it did jump out at me. This looks handy.

Email-based task systems tend toward clutter, but if you have some way to deal with that onslaught, this could be really useful

What a fantastic idea! I know many folks, especially in small business, who would get a massive productivity boost from something like this.

I'd recommend explaining how the service integrates with people's emails, before asking them to hand over any details. That's the only thing that would stop me from giving it a go.

Using this workflow for email is pretty interesting. I'm currently relying heavily on snoozing in Google Inbox to manage email tasks, but this takes things a step further. I will say though that $12/mo is too steep compared the upside for me when you can hack together a workflow for free relatively easily.

I would be very interested by this if it was opensource with integrations to major clients and open source web clients like Roundcube. But until then, I don't want to give always more private information to any new third party, even very cool Indie Maker ones.

Damn, nope. Gotta spend $12 a MONTH?! I don't even pay that for my Netflix or Spotify.

My biggest question is: Does it work with Gmail, but this is no answered anywhere, so I am not keen to sign up. (I also don't really know what I am signing up for.)

This is a really good idea. If it works well, this is a god-send for product managers. I've forwarded it to my company's product slack room.

Cool looking project, but I'm not about to give a third party that I know nothing about access to my emails since this is a hosted service.

Good luck.

Late to the party, but if this is going to be a commercial product here are my thoughts:

  1.) Add a quick 30 second or 1 minute demo video
  2.) Pricing should be a visible (in the header) and a dedicated page
  3.) Pricing of $12/mo seems high. I'd recommend something like $4.99/mo early adopter pricing. Then if demand, increase.
  4.) How it works. Show technology and how you don't store sensitive e-mail details like subject and body.

An MVP to check if there's product market fit for something like Drag. nice. how's the stats? :)

This proves again that software engineers have a strange understanding of kanban :)

This community can be fucking toxic sometimes, at least this person created something.

Get off your high horse and write positive criticism / offer help / suggest improvements or just stfu.

>write positive criticism / offer help / suggest improvements or just stfu

Interesting that you did exactly zero of the things you suggest (and used a throwaway knowing you'd be downvoted.)

What do you mean? Aside from the stfu, you quoted their constructive criticism.

I don’t know what posts they were talking about though. I came late to this conversation and voting moved the interesting posts up already.

If I were posting my project to this community it would be for brutal honesty from my peers, not just to drive sales and get accolades.

There's a time/place for encouragement, and a time/place for criticism. I've only found a few comments in this thread that are even remotely derogatory or toxic. There's nothing toxic about blunt, honest, criticism. HN is known for this type of feedback anyways. It might be abrasive and tough to swallow but it's not toxic to tell someone their product needs work in a community that is arguably known for and built for just that kind of feedback. Not to mention that the folks bringing up issues with the product are providing detailed reasoning for their critiques and solutions.

TL;DR Blunt, honest feedback != toxicity

I wish this was open source.

I find that for email the Getting Things Done framework works the best.

cool stuff, i actually do kanban on my gmail by tagging them with different colored stars. i'm not sure i want the UI though, but maybe because i'm already used to my workflow

Yeah, I have a very similar set up to this on gmail using labels and the multiple inboxes feature. Which also has the benefit of working with filters to automate some sorting, e.g. certain emails going straight to todo.

Hahaha the landing page quotes the creator of the app.

Definitely add video showing how it works. Great job !

A todo app where anyone can put shit in

Hn went down the rabbit hole and got stuck on Gui design...

Did anyone try it? To me it seems like emails are long, have images and attachments and are part of a conversation. The home page just shows almost tweet like emails in those boxes, without pics or attachments or threading.

The concept is cool, but the website needs far, far, far more information. And having the very first thing you see is a giant "SIGN UP" screen is a pretty big turn off.

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