Webmail Search - Needs Real Improvement
Idea shared by Jay Dubb - 7/1/2022 at 12:56 PM
First, the complaints.  About 7 months ago we migrated a large customer (over 1500 mailboxes) and a significant portion of them use Webmail as their only interface.  We've received a large number of complaints about the Search function, on 2 fronts.

(Please Up-Vote this post if you agree.)

1.)  The search box at the top of the message list seems to only search the folder in view, not subfolders.  This has created a LOT of push-back, because most of these users have a lot of folders under their Inbox for sorting/organization.  So, using this quick-search option is almost useless for them.  They have to use the "other" search option.

2.)  The search accessed by the magnifying glass icon is REALLY clumsy and needs a LOT of mouse clicks.  Users really hate it and bitterly complain frequently.   They migrated to us from a provider whose search function was supremely intuitive, comprehensive (search all folders or just current) and was simple to enter criteria.  

Let's compare the two.  Assume we wanted to search for email from Joe Smith, with 104 Main St. in the subject, has an attached spreadsheet that we need, and was received during the workweek of June 4. 

Key in Joe's email hit <tab> and key in the subject, click the "has attachment" checkbox, select "within 1 week of", choose June 4 (or the 6th mid-week) and click Search.  

That was fast, easy, and the results are focused.  

That SAME operation with Smartermail search is a LOT more convoluted and FAR less focused.  Select "email" from the dropdown of where to search.  Click the Add Criteria dropdown and scroll to find "From" and select it, then click the textbox and enter Joe's email.  Click the next Add Criteria dropdown and scroll down to find "Subject" and select it, then click the textbox and enter the subject.  Then click the next Add Criteria dropdown, scroll to find "Received After" and click to select it.  Then click the year dropdown and select 2022.  Then click the month dropdown and select June.  But notice there is no DAY selection so we're stuck searching the WHOLE MONTH.  Then click the next Add Criteria dropdown and choose "Received before".  Then click the year dropdown and choose 2022.  Then click the Month dropdown and choose July.  Then click the next Add Criteria button and scroll down to find "Contains Attachments".  FINALLY, we can then click Search.

And the results will not be focused in the desired narrow range of time, they will be for the entire month of June.

Clearly the search input needs to be radically improved and streamlined.  The screenshot below is from their old provider's webmail.

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I personally like SMs search. It can be a bit weird with its results sometimes, but overall, I like it myself. 
The complaint is not that it doesn't work-- the complaint is how terribly clumsy it is to use.  Consider the comparison I wrote above.  The old mail host's search function was actually better, and took FAR fewer mouse clicks to accomplish.  

The customer added us as an agent to their internal support ticket system, so we could review email related issues, and there is ticket after ticket of people complaining about the search function being "junk", "garbage", "a pain to use", "broken", "sucks", and it just goes on and on like that.  They've complained in tickets to their I.T. department.  We've gotten phone calls.  We've received email.  None of it positive.  And to reiterate, this is company with over 1,500 users, many with 10, 20, 30, 40, even 50+ GB of email in their mailbox.

The biggest complaint, tho, is the search bar at the top of the message list NOT searching folders underneath.  These users make extensive use of folders, so the "easiest to access" search function is basically worthless to them.

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