We’ve just rolled out a few changes to the address book available in the web interface. These changes are based on some analysis we did of how people are using the address book.
- Remove the "Description" field on address locations
We found that very few people used this field (the vast majority were blank), and for those that did put something in here, it was usually duplicate information (either just the string "Home", "Work" or "Other", and just duplicating the selected address type) or confused information (duplicating the first line of the address itself). So we’ve removed this, and in the few cases it appeared to be used, we’ve moved the information into the first line of the address itself.
- Remove all custom fields
Few people were using custom fields, and in the majority of cases people were actually putting data in here that should have been in another location. Most custom fields were some form of phone number and those should clearly be in the phone contacts section. The likely reason for this happening is because the previous interface didn’t make it obvious where to put phone numbers, which we’ve now also made clearer (see below). The other use of custom fields was for new services like Skype and Twitter. We’ve added new contact types for those services.
Any existing custom fields have been moved to the appropriate phone/email/online contact type, or where we couldn’t identify an appropriate type, we’ve moved the data into the Notes section.
- Add new contact types for Skype and Twitter
Apart from the phone types, these were clearly the most used custom field types, so we’ve added these as explicit online contact types.
- Split the old Contacts section into 3 separate sections: Email, Phone and Online contacts
Because we’ve always allowed an arbitrary number of "contacts", there was a single Contacts section where you could select the contact type you wanted to add: Email, Phone, Web, Instant Messenger, etc. However because the selection of which type to add was via a pop up menu which defaulted to "Email", it wasn’t actually obvious that you used the same section to add phone numbers, web addresses, etc.
So we’ve now split this into three separate sections for "Email", "Phone" and "Online" contact types.
Based on our analysis, we believe these changes make the address book easier to use and also better matches the actual data people are wanting to see and store, while removing unneeded and rarely used complex or difficult to understand features.