So both Yahoo Mail! and Hotmail have come up with their AJAX based UIs. Its time I did a comparison.
Use of Colors, Icons, images
- Hotmail, has worked upon its old icons, making them with gradient backgrounds though.
- Yahoo has created bold new Icons, Their Icons are more intuitive. They are bigger, considering the higher resolutions (more than 1024 x 768). Hotmail’s icons’ main image still is small, with Text beside it to help
- Hotmail has already given multiple themes like Blue, Red, Black, Sliver, Yahoo still lacks it, or atleast I wasn’t able to find it.
- Hotmail’s interface nowhere comes close to being accessible by using shortcuts, the way yahoo has done it.
- Yahoo although has picked up the overall idea from Desktop Applications and lets not forget Gmail, has provided much easier access to everything.
- Yahoo’s shortcut key indication is when the user uses a mouse and clicks on a particular button for an action; this creates a Div pop-up suggesting the user to use much easier shortcut key.
- Again Yahoo has won this race, with its ample of shortcuts, and an intuitive interface which resembles a Desktop App, its more usable as compared to Hotmail
- Hotmail, is changing things around, eg. at first look you don’t find a check box beside the message, but when you roll-over the message, the mail icon(read or unread) beside the message changes to a checkbox. User can’t think of that at first glance
- A click on Yahoo will just select the mail, which again is inline with any other Desktop App like Thunderbird or Outlook Express; It doesn’t open the mail with a click. In hotmail, a single click will open the message as well.
- Preview Pane: Hotmail’s ad area is at the topmost part, mostly of “Windows Live” ads, So it reduces the users, available height, as unlike Yahoo’s ad section is on rightmost part, which on today’s wide screens and resolutions is much better suited for a preview pane.
- Font Colors: Yahoo sticks to a decent contrast, dark black fonts on a white background or a Windows XP’s Luna theme’s light beige-yellow background. Continuous use of Yahoo won’t be a problem to the user. But Hotmail has jumped the Web 2.0 bandwagon with its bad or very light color schemes. All basic font colors are light gray, which on first feel look good, but need not be good for long, They will strain your eyes.
- Sorting: Yahoo has done it again, Hotmail is simply pathetic in this area. Hotmail can only sort in Descending order!!! ridiculous ! Hotmail can only sort using Date, Sender, Subject and Size, while Yahoo apart from those can sort on Junk marked messages, Attachements and Flagged messages.
- Flagged messages: Hotmail simply lacks this feature ! Yahoo does not.
- Drag and Drop: Both are good in this area, Yahoo however slightly edges out Hotmail, by suggesting; where the dragged object can be placed and where it can’t.
Cross Browser Compatibility
I need not state who is the clear winner over here, Yahoo Mail. Hotmail’s UI is still facing problems in Firefox. However, the whole live project seems to be the only project where M$ is doing good work on Cross browser compatibilities, but atleast they are moving in that direction.
Errors, Bugs, miscellaneous
Yahoo’s UI seems to be a little slow as compared to Hotmail’s, and there seems to be a continuous background refresh going on somewhere, which at times can be annoying, Hotmail doesn’t have that problem.
Yahoo has also neatly integrated their calender with the mail interface, in Hotmail calender is still like a different page. Yahoo’s calender events are listed like Gmail’s Web Clips which makes it very usable.
Both are evolving and are in Beta stage(Google style) so can’t say much about their bugs, but every 15 days the UIs seem to improve their functionality… So 3 cheers to them.
Conclusion, Inference, Overall…
We’re not having a Scientific experiment over here, but still we need to come down to a final winner over here. And to me if you want to have just simple lazy browsing of 1 or 2 mails, both of them are equally good. But for actual work with emails will leave u using Yahoo Mail more as compared to Hotmail.
So if you ask me… I would say Yahoo Mail.