Colored labels: small change, major difference
What a difference a small change makes. Gmail launched what has probably been my #1 wanted feature since I’ve started using it: colored labels. Labels were useful already if you wanted to archive content meaningfully, but without a visual cue their impact on the inbox wasn’t really significant.
Colored labels however, make a huge difference. If you’re smart about the way you use labels, you can create a system for your email to prioritize conversations, organize a task list, or go all out and build a proper GTD system out of it – all with the visual cues of colored labels, because they allow you to at a glance understand what email belongs where without reading the subject or even the label text.
What to take away from this
Minor differences like these visual cues are some of the things that define application experiences, and frequently (and unfortunately) are forgotten by developers and people building products. Products that are meant to help people manage assets in their daily life in particular deserve this special caring eye on them.
People building web applications need to ask themselves “How can I provide meaningful cues to help my users?”. These things (like the need for cues) are not found by chance – people do express the need for cues and helping paths all the time, we just need to care enough to listen and make changes.