Anger explodes at Yahoo Mail redesign disaster: Key functions removed or broken

Summary:Thousands upon thousands of furious Yahoo Mail users are telling the company its new redesign is a failure and want Yahoo to revert the changes — while new reports of serious technical issues mount. UPDATED to reflect Yahoo's statement.

For Yahoo Mail's 16th anniversary, the company surprised its users with a complete inbox and mail redesign implemented on October 8 — and users think it's a disaster.

Six days later, thousands upon thousands of furious Mail users are telling Yahoo they are enraged at the removal of key functions, and many report serious technical problems.

Essential functions missing or badly placed

yahoo mail redesign failure

In an apparent redesign backfire, Yahoo has removed — or misplaced — essential Yahoo Mail functions.

Users are outraged that they can no longer organize their Inbox by Tabs or Sort by Sender, they can't view their Folders unless they leave the inbox, new emails are no longer bold, and the delete button is turning out to be disastrously placed next to sender name.

Another widely repeated issue is the redesign's missing-in-action print button.

It is of the few among thousands of livid Uservoice comments to receive a reply from Yahoo Product Support, saying, "We are looking into this issue" and that the user should use Command-P in the meantime.

Riddled with technical failures and glitches

The "bug" or "error" category currently has 3,946 entries, spanning over 200 pages.

An astonishing number of users report broken functions that include autosave, draft deletion, Use SSL and more, with some reporting contact emails being deleted and their emails disappearing.

It has been reported that Yahoo is removing email addresses from user address books without consent.

In one documented instance, the user re-added the contact's email address, only to have Yahoo go back into their address book and remove it again.

Some users have told Yahoo that their emails are disappearing from folders or after being sent.

An overwhelming outpouring of Do Not Want

The most recent thread on the "Tell us what you think about Yahoo Mail" Uservoice page, "Please Bring Back Tabs" has 23,869 votes and 2126 users telling Yahoo to revert the redesign and restore key features and functionality.

There are many more threads, stretching the post's page count to the thousands. As of this writing, the votes and comments increase in hundreds by the hour. 

Yahoo's removal of Mail Tabs is a huge issue for many users, as well as users no longer being able to sort by Sender and by Subject.

An extremely important feature has disappeared.

This must be a bug because nobody in their right mind would remove such a feature.

Angry litanies are filling comments sections offsite as well, on news articles about the redesign.

One unhappy user typified the cold-shower Yahoo Mail user experience being described in the tidal wave of negative comments about the new design:

First, signing into my account and immediately encountering an alien mail interface highly reminiscent of Gmail that then took me several minutes to puzzle through in order to turn off the various enhancements Yahoo deemed effective for me to use was infuriating. I am 35 years old and moderately competent in digital navigation. It took me several minutes to fully figure out how to turn off features I neither asked for nor wanted.

(...) In the Yahoo Mail interface I was using only days ago, I could have multiple tabs open for various messages and compositions, switching back and forth with ease.

(...) Partially completed drafts of sent emails have stayed frozen in my Drafts folder since last night without the ability to delete them. Yes, I signed out of Yahoo and resigned in again. No change. I closed by browser and reopened it. The frozen drafts remained.

Then, this evening after I spent just over an hour composing a letter to one of my colleagues, I sent the completed email to him without any discernable hitch. (TF N---- October 10, 2013, 11:27pm, WebProNews)

But his email never arrived and did not remain in the Sent folder.

The email disappeared, unsent and unsaved. Additionally, he discovered that Yahoo Mail's autosave function was simply not working.

Trying to be more like Gmail

The redesign is Yahoo Mail's second redesign within a year (under the leadership of former Google executive, current Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer). It was publicized at launch as Yahoo's bid to make Yahoo Mail more like Gmail.

Mayer left Google for Yahoo over a year ago.

Chris Crum at WebProNews reported:

Even the guy who ran Yahoo Mail since 2009 left the company (he now works at Disney), and rumor has it that his departure was not amicable, and that he left because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with CEO Marissa Mayer on her decision to overhaul Yahoo Mail.

Not surprisingly, many of the thousands of people coming forward to report bugs and usability failures are also saying that they preferred Yahoo Mail specifically because it was not Gmail.

There is now a Facebook Group, "Yahoo's New Mail Fail: Open Letter To Marissa Mayer"

Yahoo apparently also followed Google's lead by ignoring the fact that Gmail's new Compose - also forced on users — has been loudly and strongly disliked by a significant number of Gmail users.

According to recent comScore data as reported by the Associated Press, Yahoo Mail has 289 million monthly users, second to Gmail's 304 million.

The second Yahoo Mail redesign within a year

The previous Yahoo Mail redesign, only seven months ago, also angered users and caused a significant backlash of fast and continuous complaints, usability problems and glitch reports.

That time, Yahoo Mail users reported slowness, freezing and hanging, and issues such as:

It’s slow, ignores clicks, seems to repeat clicks and delete items you were expecting to delete. In terms of design, it’s awful.

The size of emails is no longer on the main list, so you can’t defer opening large emails until later. You cannot adjust the size of columns.

The folder list rolls off when you scroll the email list. You cannot easily delete multiple emails from the main list at once — you have to go one by one…

That was last December — but the same bugs are flooding the Yahoo's new "Tell us what you think" Uservoice post.

The post now spanning 1,860 pages and the word "hate" is common.

One Yahoo Mail user who reported missing email concluded his comment with a sentiment being widely reflected by yahoo Mail users across the Internet:

You screwed up Yahoo. Your urge to market, to innovate, to heighten your appeal and brand in order to ensnare new users has failed at least one of your old, loyal ones. This one.

Coincidence or no, your enormous breach of etiquette and thoughtless tact has broken the relationship between this consumer and your corporation.

Update October 15, 2013 2:27pm PST: Statement from Yahoo reproduced in full below. 

Yahoo responded to ZDNet's request for comment by ignoring what we asked and giving us a Help page link, descriptions of its design changes, and copy/pasted text used repeatedly by Admins in its Uservoice forums about how these changes are part of 'modernizing' Yahoo.

The company did not address ZDNet's specific question about user anger, and specific technical problems such as repeated removal of users' valid email contacts.

Instead, a Yahoo spokesperson provided a short descriptions of only three changes (not addressing the removed functions), provided a Help page link on how to restore "missing" contacts, and sent a copy/paste of the "We recognize this is a lot of change" text used by anonymous Yahoo representatives (such as this example):

Response on where features are now within Mail:

- "Delete" is now a quick action that appears on hover (as a trash can) that is available per message or per conversation.

- "Sort by sender" is also now available as a quick action that appears on hover (as a magnifying glass) and is available on a per message basis. It is a fast and easy way to search by sender.

- New emails are now highlighted with a color ball to the left. You can toggle the read/unread status by clicking on that ball. It is more efficient than before.

Yahoo statement on user feedback:

"We deeply value how much our users care about Yahoo and are constantly engaging with our products. We recently made some design changes to Yahoo Mail. These changes are an important step to building a more modern and personalized Yahoo!. We recognize that this is a lot of change and are listening to all of the community feedback. Additionally, we're actively measuring user feedback so we can continuously make improvements."

Yahoo statement on address book changes:

“In June, we announced an opportunity for users to sign up for the Yahoo username they've always wanted. We're able to do this because we're freeing up usernames that were inactive for at least 12 months. As part of this recycling process, if an inactive account is listed within a Yahoo address book, it is automatically removed when the account is recycled. This is so that we can ensure that email is sent to the intended recipient. Any other information such as phone numbers, mailing addresses, or alternate email addresses within the contact remains. If a user believes their Yahoo Contacts were removed in error, we encourage them to review this help article about restoring missing contacts for more information."

Topics: Tech Industry, Google

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.