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What’s The Point of Notification Badges?

Turns out at best they’re a distraction, at worst anxiety rocket-fuel.

Posted by Chris in Blogs » Journey
Email Badges

I put a throwaway post out on LinkedIn recently. It was just a screenshot of three of four of my main inboxes.

On each Gmail M there was a badge with impossible email counts. 3000+, 30,000+, 20,000+.

Some curious things became apparent:

1: Everyone is stressed

Loads of people commented about how much anxiety the screenshot gave them

I’m stressing out just looking at the screenshot!

I would never be able to sleep with those numbers. I get stressed if I can’t see the bottom of my four inboxes.

Folks were using words like anxious, sick, ill, sleepless.

2: Lots of people are in the same boat

Other people started to post screenshots of their own terrible badges. Someone even said they’d cropped out the other icons around their email out of embarrassment. Things like Slack.

Turns out it’s a common thing amongst our desktops.

3: Email bankruptcy is a thing

Other than one person who said I should read them all in case there was money hidden, everyone else said to declare email bankruptcy. In other words, delete the lot and hope for the best.

My takeaway from this very small and unscientific study is that notification badges cease to become useful very quickly, unless all you want is to be reminded of a background feeling of dread.

And at that moment, I knew we’d made the right decision in how we think about notifications inside of Task Page:

We don’t think much of them.