Please Save Me From Myself

Today, I very nearly let a domain lapse that I fully intended to continue to have registered in my name. In all fairness: I own a huge portion of the blame for that near miss. But that’s the trick with UX: you’re trying to let someone do what they already know they want to do. I wanted to give Namecheap1 money for a domain. I almost didn’t get to. I’m going to tell you why.

Problem #1: Terrible Emails

There’s not a nice way to say this. Namecheap’s notification emails are . . . not very good. Let me show you one:

The Email

First, this email is way, way too long. This content of this email is nearly 900px tall. It’s got more than 200 words in it. All of this to tell me one critical piece of information: I’m about to lose my domain.

Second, this email is in plain-text. There’s no emphasis. Every one of its 240 words carries the same weight.

Third, most of the email is ambiguous. Look at the subject. It’s a “renewal notice”. Would you expect to get a renewal notice for a domain you’re not renewing? They say the domain is “expiring” which is even more ambiguous. Do they mean the registration expiration date is approaching, but it will be renewed (it is a “renewal notice”, after all)? Or are they telling me I’m about to lose the domain?

Fourth, the thing I really need to know is buried in the second half of the email. “Last day auto-renewal failed due to insufficient funds in your account. We will *NOT* be able to auto-renew your domain. Please try renewing manually.” Why is that not front and center2 ?

Think if the email was shorter and in HTML. They could have bolded that whole sentence and I wouldn’t have missed it literally every time I looked at the email.

Look, y’all, it’s 2016. There’s just no excuse for a company who can afford to hire designers to have emails this bad. They’re important.

Problem #2: Web App Opaqueness

Weeks ago, when I received the first email like the one above, I immediately logged into my account. I checked to make sure the right credit card was on file. It was. The domain had a strange “ALERT” tag on it.

expiring soon

What does it mean? I don’t know. Hovering provided no additional info. I now suspect that “alert” must mean “Your Auto-Renew Failed”, although I’m not sure how I should know that when Auto-Renew still looks like it’s on:

domain list

Problem #3: Your User is an Idiot

. . . but one who wants to give you money. After writing this post, I’m left with the undeniable feeling that I should’ve put all of those clues together and just renewed the domain manually. I eventually did cross that threshold of understanding. But what almost happened is that I almost lost the domain. I was an idiot and Namecheap passed up golden opportunities to save me from myself.



  1. I want to be clear about this, though: this is mostly nitpicking. I’m very happy with Namecheap and recommend them despite these little issues 

  2. Well, okay, we know why it’s not centered