Email remains an incredibly useful tool in the business setting, assisting with a wide variety of communication needs. However, in order to make the most of your emails, you need to have an email client that permits you to do so. Here, we’re pitting two major email clients against each other to see which one offers the features that best suit your business and its needs.
To do so, we’ll be examining each of our contenders, Microsoft Outlook and Google’s Gmail, based on the same considerations. To start, let’s consider the actual interface that a user must navigate in each option.
Your preferences will come heavily into play as you weigh the two very different interfaces against each other, as each takes a very different approach. Gmail keeps it very simple, clearly and prominently labeling a user’s options to make it relatively easy to grow accustomed to. Different options will appear based on context - hidden until the user completes an action or accesses the in-message menu.
Outlook, on the other hand, takes the opposite tack - giving users a plethora of options to make use of (to the point that a user could potentially review multiple email accounts simultaneously). However, as many could find all of the options Outlook offers to be intimidating, the Office 365 version of Outlook does offer a trimmed-down version of the option Ribbon that stretches across the top of the screen. All you have to do to switch between these options is to click on the downward caret in the far right of the Ribbon.
Nevertheless, it offers its users so many options that Outlook presents its greatest weakness - its complexity. In addition to the Ribbon - stuffed with options as it is - there are three panes that make up the rest of the program. First, you have a comprehensive list of all email accounts you use Outlook to manage, second, a list of your messages that allows you to run inbox-specific searches and sort them based on assorted criteria, and third, a basic reading pane to view your messages, with the options to reply, reply all, or forward the message. That said, Outlook is what the majority of businesses have been using for decades, so chances are you are pretty familiar with it.
This is a really important consideration to take into account when you are trying to determine the best email client, as you might assume. While Outlook may arguably have too many features displayed in its various menus and toolbars, this issue was not carried over into the message composer… although this is not to say that a user is exactly short on options when it comes to formatting their email message. Microsoft has also made it easy to share documents stored in OneDrive, a user’s PC, or items created in Outlook itself. The Ribbon, of course, offers a litany of other features to make creating, scheduling, and reviewing your emails much simpler.
Comparatively, while Google offers a little less through Gmail, the apparent focus on simplicity gives a user a very usable solution with all the features that most will ever really need. Attaching media to an email can admittedly be a complicated process, namely due to the three separate ways to do so. There’s a button to insert files from the computer’s storage, a button for inserting photos from Google Photos, and a button to insert files from your Google Drive. Finally, as a very compelling feature, Gmail allows you to cancel a message that is being sent if you catch your mistake quickly enough.
Finally, in order for you to actually be productive as you use your email, it is best that you have some level of organization to it. This is why both of our subjects today feature some degree of management functionality.
Outlook, for instance, offers subscribers to Office 365 an automated means of prioritizing emails through its Focused Inbox feature. After a little bit of time “training” this feature, you can rely on it to separate your important messages from incoming sales and other promotional correspondence. Messages in the same conversation can be consolidated, making conversations much simpler to read, and folders and subfolders can be used to keep better track of them.
A user in-the-know can also create rules in Outlook to make the management of their emails even easier. For instance, a rule can be created that automatically files any messages with the word “Project” in the subject line into a specialized folder, as well as other actions based on assorted criteria.
Gmail is similarly customizable, in terms of management and organization, with folders and tabs to differentiate your messages between and settings that can be configured to automatically take care of this differentiation for you. However, if one of your conversations branches out into multiple threads, Gmail can become somewhat confusing, as all of its messages are just arranged chronologically. Having said that, Gmail somewhat redeems itself with its Labels. Labels allow you to organize your email based on the context of the message, by applying a label to each message as it comes in. These labels can also be nested within each other - so let’s say that you were involved in a lot of project work, you could create a folder for project-related emails, and sub-folders for individual projects.
There are a lot of considerations to make when deciding upon an email platform, with far more variables than we’ve covered here. For more assistance, reach out to the expert consultants at MERIT Solutions. We can help you decide upon the best business technology for your needs, allowing you to focus on other pressing matters. Give us a call at (757) 420-5150 to learn more.