Domain renewal improvements

Hot on the heels of our last upgrade, we’ve done some follow-on work to fill in the blanks:

  • Improved domain renewal/expiration emails.
  • More options for domain renewals.
  • More power for the Renewal Monitor.

We recently had our first anniversary of the switch to our new domain registrar’s platform. That’s mostly good news, but it also means some of our members are starting to go through the domain renewal / expiration countdown process.

We quickly learned that the way our registrar handles it was not going to be acceptable. They gave us two options. First, the default was that they could send out emails to people with expiring domains, which would be fine, except the email tells you to go to the wrong site to renew! Oops. The second option is for them to send out no renewal/expiration emails at all.

Well, as soon as we found out about that gigantic caveat with the first option, we took the second one (they do nothing) and went to work getting it done right. Now, by default, we’ll send you a timely email reminder, which you should get about a week before your domain expires.

I did say “by default,” didn’t I? There are now three options for handling renewals. As stated above, the default action is to email you before your domain expires. We’ve also added a “shut up and leave me alone” option if you plan to let a domain expire and don’t want to be hassled. And third, we’ve added the option to auto-renew a domain, subject to the availability of funds in your account.

This isn’t a new feature for registrars, but it’s a new feature for us, and one we had to think carefully about. If you’ve ever experienced the “How the heck did auto-renew get turned on for that domain? Again?” feeling at another registrar, you’ll understand why. But, we’ve decided to suck it up and give it a try. And we’ve decided to do it right, which means making it an opt-in choice, not something you have to disable every time you turn around.

The renewal type you’ve selected will appear on the info panel for your domain under the expiration date, and it’s also been added to your Renewal Monitor.

Speaking of the Renewal Monitor, we’ve upgraded it a bit as well. We’ve added the ability to lock domains directly from that panel, and we’ve eliminated the need to pop-up additional windows to do locks and unlocks; the action will complete and you’ll be able to click straight back to the renewal monitor. Lastly, we’ve added a bar of years across the top. If you’re like me, you may prefer to have the screen simply tell you “there’s nothing to do” when there’s nothing to do, rather than show you a list of dates so you can try to figure out if you’ve got something to do. The default screen shows one year, and if you set all your domain expirations to be at least a year away, it’ll just tell you that you’re all set. Naturally, you can always click the 10-year option if you want to see everything, for example to check the lock status of all your domains at once.

(We’ll be adding some “stickiness” to your choice of what to display in a future upgrade. It’s time for us to poke around in our UI and make a lot more things “remember” what you last told it to do.)

We are not, nor will we ever be, a general-purpose domain registration provider, but that’s no excuse for making the process difficult. These changes should file off some of the rough edges and help make domain management a lot more pleasant. I hope you agree!

1 Comment

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  1. Hey, that’s really cool.

    Have you thought about an option where rows are color-coded by year, so it shows all the domains but highlights (for example, in light yellow) the domains that will expire in the next year?

    Oh, and you should implement Ajax locking/unlocking. 😉

    [The color-coding is a good idea… we’ve given it a shot, but may need some tweaking to find the right balance between “usefully informative” and “vomitous riot of color.” AJAX is not a technology you’re likely to see in our UI in the near future. -jdw]

    Comment by ttuttle — April 17, 2007 #

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