Updated Gmail interface has a compose window at the bottom right corner. My initial impression is that it just doesn't feel right because it breaks the standard middle of the screen placement. I got the same feedback from a few other people. The window also cannot be moved or re-sized. Based on the answers below some rationales are consistency across products, ability to access other components (messages, contacts, etc.). How would you redesign this UI by not having the window in the bottom right corner?

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    I don't think this really fits the UX:SE format, as it can't be answered without a Google employee giving the reason. Other answers are speculation and therefore don't suit the Q&A model. Discussion queries are very welcome in chat, though. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Nov 1 '12 at 22:12
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    While it would be great to get rationale from Google employee I think non-google employees could also give useful and convincing answers. A lot of us work on the same set of UX problems and some might have placed the window in the same location because of some good reasons that would be great to hear about. – Anna Rouben Nov 1 '12 at 22:17
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    It's consistent with their chat windows. It's basically a 'gmail overlay' – DA01 Nov 1 '12 at 23:26
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    "I don't like this new feature and want to complain about it so I'll post a rant on UX masked as a question to vent." Good try, but that doesn't work here. What also doesn't work: rewriting the question to ask people how they would redesign it. That's just a contentious, speculative question that doesn't actually help anyone. – Rahul Nov 2 '12 at 21:58
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    Rahul, that has not been my rationale at all, I would appreciate more consideration. UX is not math; it is not always right or wrong answer; there is a place for discussion and we learn from discussion. It is very unfortunate that a lot of valid questions get closed. – Anna Rouben Nov 5 '12 at 18:23

Google themselves have answered this question:

Gmail's new compose and reply experience

You can now write messages in a cleaner, simpler experience that puts the focus on your message itself, not all the features around it. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Fast: Compose messages right from your inbox.
  • Simple: Redesigned with a clean, streamlined look.
  • Powerful: Check emails as you're typing, minimize drafts for later, and even compose two messages at once.

I suggest their third point is the main one here - it allows you to do other things while composing emails - for instance to still be able to view other emails while you're composing one yourself.

  • Thanks for finding this! Still one question unanswered though; it could be resizable or movable and still allow that functionality. – Sara D Gore Nov 2 '12 at 14:10
  • Thanks for the quotes :). I am not sure that speed of composing is related to the location in the corner. I can see that having a message on the side it has other components accessible. – Anna Rouben Nov 2 '12 at 16:52

After reading the comments I'd hazard that a plausible explanation would be that Google is trying to standardize their interfaces across applications. DAO1 pointed out that the placement is consistent with their chat windows, which makes a lot of sense.

If this is their goal, it would certainly explain this part of the new Gmail interface, although the more interesting question (and perhaps more relevant to this forum) would be to ask whether this change could be implemented in a less confusing way.

  • Good point about making UI standard across products and good suggestion about updating the question; it is updated now. – Anna Rouben Nov 2 '12 at 16:53

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