I just read the excellent post by MereCivilian talking about deciding against HEY.com after checking it out, and since I have a different experience, I thought it might be helpful to provide an alternate perspective.
I have been using HEY.com for a week and I’m 99% sure I’m going to sign up. The main reason is that it is saving me HOURS worth of email processing every week.
First of all, I should say that HEY is a very different email paradigm, and to get the most out of it, it does require buy in with the overall philosophy. HEY is not just an alternate email software, and if you think you can just use it the same way you’re using your current email client, you won’t like it. If you have complicated organizational and tagging systems for your email, you probably won’t like it. If you use email as a task system, you probably won’t like it. And finally, if you use email as an informational or recordkeeping system, you probably won’t like it.
The main two ideas that I see behind HEY is that 1) just because someone has your email address doesn’t mean they deserve your time and attention and 2) maybe we should think of email as more of a stream than a filing box.
Regarding #1: Obviously, many people who have our emails do deserve our time & attention. But email as a technology has become a monster. Our emails are bought and sold and repeatedly abused by 3rd parties. HEY starts off by gatekeeping EVERYTHING (similar to the concept of Caller ID on a phone). This is the opposite of what iCloud & Gmail filters and SaneBox do. They let in everything and then you have to set up rules to organize things (SaneBox being notably easier to do this than Gmail). HEY is designed around streamlining a workflow which surfaces emails which you have deemed important, while offering features that make it super fast and easy to process email – “processing” meaning retrieving what you want from the email (i.e. tasks and information) and responding where needed and moving on.
Regarding #2: HEY does not encourage or even really accommodate any idea of email-as-some-kind-of-filing-system. I think that will probably be the biggest sticking point for most people who consider it. I especially think this is a hard paradigm for a lot of people to shift away from given the metaphor of email as “electronic mail.” We think of it as something that needs to be sorted, filed and saved, rather than as an information feed.
That being said, it does require time to “train” HEY. However, I have found this super fast and easy to do, and after about a week of 1-2 minute daily training sessions, there is very little training left to do.
Things I LOVE about HEY
- Beautifully designed, minimalistic, crazy fast interface. I used to use Gmail, but after using HEY for a week, opening Gmail is like . Also slow. SO slow in comparison. How many times I’ve opened a Gmail window to watching a spinning ball or had it crash on me.
- Keyboard shortcuts everywhere. Even with Gmail shortcuts, I feel like I used to have to use my mouse quite a lot, but I can process ALL my email in HEY without ever leaving my keyboard. SO fast.
- Focus and Reply mode LOVE it.
- Ability to merge threads and change subject lines (which doesn’t affect the rest of the people on a thread). Like most of us, I correspond with many people who don’t know how to write a good email subject line. Well, now I can fix that.
- No email tracking by default.
- HEY is much more contact-oriented, so it has built-in features that make it easy to view everything from a particular contact or source without configuration.
- HEY also makes it easy to see all attachments, or all attachments from a particular contact without configuration. As a web designer constantly dealing with clients sending me things or arguing about having sent me things, this is such a timesaver.
- I don’t know why, buy HEY is just faster for me than the traditional email experience. I literally had hundreds of rules in Gmail sorting my email, flagging it and trying to make sense of it, but HEY just makes it super easy for me to focus on what’s important with email, and get out. I literally used to spend at least 2 hours every Monday and anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or two throughout the week. Now, it’s like, less than a half hour daily. WORTH IT.
Things I’m not crazy about HEY
- No way to autofile (i.e. tag/flag) based on anything other than sender. However, I have heard from support that this is a feature that will be coming soon.
- No custom domains (reportedly coming soon).
- No single all-sent-mail view (also coming soon, reportedly)
- No signatures. (However this is easy to get around with textexpander.) Honestly, I’m not a huge fancy signature person. I kind of find them annoying. But I do like a short-and-sweet sig.
Hope this is helpful to anyone considering HEY. Oh, and here’s MereCivilian’s thoughtful post providing the (mostly cons) from their perspective (which inspired this post).