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How empathy is part of our differentiation strategy

Maria Munuera's profile picture Maria Munuera on

The user experience design boom has been evident in recent years. It's become – successfully or not – a commodity for every digital product.

In a recently published video, Kate Moran, a UX specialist from NNGroup, explains how user expectations using digital interfaces are evolving:

Unlike older generations, when something goes wrong in a product we see Millennials are much faster to criticize the interface rather than blame themselves […] they are conscious of the fact that there's a designer behind the screen.

Our minimal design requirements for a good experience have grown significantly. There are more design tools, more trained designers, more design departments inside organizations, easier to use website templates, and more design experience awareness than ever before – even from a business perspective.

Alas, quickly growing tech companies aren't the ones leading good user experience, because they're prioritizing quick, profitable wins over long term relationships with their users.

Your tone is part of your product

At DNSimple, we're aware of the complexity of domain management processes, and we work every day to improve the experience.

We recently added a helping sidebar to complex forms. The idea is to offer contextual tips for users with little domain management experience, or users who are trying a feature for the first time. We chose a sidebar because we didn't want to add any noise for advanced users – they can ignore it if they want.

alias record form

We work on avoiding errors rather than explaining them better, like formatting a URL input like a URL. But there are some configurations that depend on the user's purpose.

Users filling out forms are particularly stressed and don't need any extra noise. We decided the sidebar isn't mandatory for all forms. Resetting a password doesn't need any extra explanation.

When deciding on the right tone for the forms sidebar, we imagined a friendly work environment.

We made a list of rules that can be adapted for any user:

  1. Empathise with the user on that particular page. What would they need in that moment?
  2. Never assume something is easy. We created the product, that's why it's easy for us. This includes avoiding words like "just", "easy", or "fast".
  3. Avoid any paternalistic kind of help, e.g. "Oh, I see you wanted to use this feature, we can do it together :)". Our users aren't toddlers.
  4. Use your experience to order the content. Remember to use what comes up more in support emails first, combined with the most visited support site pages.
  5. An overly-positive, friendly tone can be perceived as annoying in moments of stress, e.g. "Fantastic! Your brand new shiny password will arrive to your email faster than light, my friend".
  6. Give tips as if you were sending a message to a friend: clear, concise, and with a follow up link to our detailed support page.

We joked that the summary of the list could be Clippy but not creepy.

Empathy also means avoiding unnecessary upselling

Domain management is always evolving, and little details escape even the most experienced users.

We care and we take caring seriously

One of our core values is: Care for and educate customers. That's why we all answer customer support questions daily. This is a win-win situation where we understand user pain points and prioritize projects better, and users get answers from the most qualified people to do so – the ones building the product.

When we realized unsubscribing wasn't an easy process, we changed it. We decided to make unsubscribing simple with an easily accessible button. Because you shouldn't have to spend an hour on the phone to cancel a service.

Empathy is important, because DNS management isn't a luxury. It's a necessity for every business operating online. When something goes wrong, you can lose time and money. We know the risks and try to save you both.

Applying empathy when you do invisible work

In our line of work, a common scenario is being accessible when needed, and almost forgotten the rest of the time.

Some things in life are only noticed when they stop working; the rest of the time you take them for granted. We're aware we're that kind of tool for non-reseller users. Think about the electricity at your home, the water supply, your internet connection: that's our ultimate goal. To transparently automate processes to the user, because everything works as expected. To be on the list of useful things that are always running and you take for granted.

What we choose not to do is as important as what we do

We don't send unnecessary emails to our users. No one likes to be bothered with spam and other commercial, unsolicited emails, or being told to upgrade their subscription, unless they want a specific feature that's only in a higher plan.

Let your users have control over when to access to more information. Documentation and availability is more important than constant communication.

useful sign

If users want to know what we're up to, they can read our blog or follow us on Twitter. If they want to know more about a feature, they can read our carefully crafted documentation. We keep our emails to a minimum.

When answering user questions or designing a new feature, we care, and it makes us stand out. It's one of the reasons most of our long term users are also our fans.

As Scott Belsky said on his interview at Decode Recode:

There's too many companies, specially in Silicon Valley, that started out of the passion of a solution to a problem as opposed to empathy with the customer suffering the problem.

Empathy is part of our product differentiation because we also know there's a person behind the screen.

If you're ready for a domain management service that's dedicated to your needs, give us a try. If you have any questions, reach out. Our support team is always ready to help.

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Maria Munuera

Avocado lover. She would have been born remotely if she could

We think domain management should be easy.
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