Namecheap has been taunting that something "Epic" was coming for weeks, and last week it finally hit. Their new website design. We have taken a while to report on this because of two things, firstly we have been busy with other things, and secondly we were a little underwhelmed.
Don't get us wrong; we think it the styling of the website looks fresh and pretty good, but the usability of the website has resulted in a fair bit of negative feedback, including from our own experiences. It takes us longer to navigate the website now, and we think there is less information on any one page, or it could be that the information is just so spaced out. Either way, we do not like it, the usability aspects that is.
Not only that, users have reported many bugs with the new website. Even we have seen a few in action, such as flickering menu items. Namecheap has even acknowledged they are having problems, with a notice as you log into the website:
What is more embarrassing is that there are even problems with their new checkout, which they have to post workarounds for. Surely a company as big as Namecheap should have the budget to hire a team that tests the website they produce before doing a full live launch?
Just take a look at some of the feedback they have received (see here for the sources), which to save us reiterating our own experiences and thoughts, we have reproduced below:
As a long time user and managing over 50 domains, I HATE this new design, it has stretched everything out, made it “modern” and unusable, what was once a fast task (checking a new domain, buying it, done) has become a monster.
The login box is HORRIBLY placed in a “drop-down” div. thinly, which in itself is a horrible design, bring back the old design or prepare for a lot of lost customers.
For once, I think I like Godaddy’s navigation better. I know it's meant to be responsive, but when practical navigation is overlooked, I like the old design better. Also, the blog still isn’t integrated into the design, and it is possible to make a WordPress theme.
If you look at GoDaddy’s website, their navigation is more usable. They followed most of the conventions I mentioned in my last blog post. They have a more traditional layout for the main navigational items. No duplicate slide out menu. Main menu items are clear and easy to find. They put login/account into in the top RIGHT of the website, and their shopping cart says ‘CART’ instead of an icon or currency changer. I suggest to the design team that they rearrange those key elements of the website, and keep it fixed width to be more usable.
Yeah, how much usability testing was actually done on this? I have 30 domains registered, multiple SSLs and now have started using your email hosting and just had a terrible time trying to figure out how to jump between the two. It doesn’t even look like there is a menu option for “Email” underneath my profile in the upper left?! I had to use CTRL + F and write in “email” to find where the small email link was hiding in the dashboard of my page. That’s rough. Truly, people do switch from GoDaddy to Namecheap for ease of use and simplicity and this may well be a step in the wrong direction.
But it is not all bad, Namecheap is responding to this feedback, and are working hard to rectify the issues (you can give your feedback directly to firstname.lastname@example.org). Twitter has been alive with much positive feedback, over the design elements of the new website. We admit, it does look fresh, and very modern, and once the usability issues have been addressed then we are sure everyone will be happy:
@Namecheap Great job on the new redesign!— Tim Lum, RGD (@pixelflex) January 27, 2014
@Namecheap you're new site and branding is AWESOME. I just say for the first time. congrats.— Chaz Mee (@cmeethree) January 27, 2014
@Namecheap your new website design is awesome!— Matt Greer (@cityfortyone) January 26, 2014
This has turned into a somewhat longer article than we had anticipated, but Namecheap's community manager has given us quite a hard time in response to our initial version of this article. We stand by our comments that the usability is a step back. We still think that a company of Namecheap's size, and with the budget they have should never be having these sorts of problems, and indeed we are rather disappointed bearing in mind all the "hype" the new launch received beforehand.
When the EIG brands, Just Host, Hostmonster, and Bluehost launched their website, for example, they did a limited launch so that only a random selection of visitors could view the new website while they tested it before the full launch. Similarly, while checking out SiteGround's new website last year, as well as InMotion we experienced none of the usability issues and other problems. In fact, one reason we loved Namecheap's website before the change was that it was so easy to manage all your domain names, and it is going to take some getting used to the new layout.
But ultimately, Namecheap will no doubt address these issues. Equally, it doesn't change our opinion of Namecheap as a whole, and they remain as one of our recommended providers, especially for Domain Names.
We have incorporated in this post our old announcement post below where Namecheap teases us that something Epic is coming to Namecheap. We now know it was their new website design.
Editor's Note: The previous article indicating this was on its way is set out below:
Something Epic is on the Way from Namecheap
Today (January 7th, 2014), Namecheap posted a teaser picture via Twitter and Facebook with a hint that "Something epic is on its way" and asking people to take a guess at what that might be. Of course, when we do know more, we will be letting you all know, but in the meantime feel free to take a guess yourselves and let us know what you think in the comments.
Something epic is on its way. Think you know what it is? Take a guess! pic.twitter.com/rSFyTfFCSa
— Namecheap.com (@Namecheap) January 6, 2014
There has been quite a good response on Namecheap's Facebook with some of the guesses as follows:
- Namecheap changing their logo
- New branding
- New TLD's
- Website and brand design
- 4 new domain extensions
- Europe VPS hosting
- . iv extension
- . epic
There were some variations on the above, but the general trend in guesses seems to be new TLDs or some kind of new branding.
For some reason, all we can think of is the GoDaddy adverts and Jean Claude Van Dam doing the splits as you have the long piece of stone doing the splits over the "N" shaped stones. Of course, it is highly like Jean Claude is tied into his contract with GoDaddy that would prevent that.
Taking the general guiding rule of Occam's razor, where the simplest explanation is quite often the correct one, we would go have to go with the majority that it is most likely to be some kind of branding or launch of the new TLD's. Probably the latter, as Namecheap has been hinting they were coming in their marketing materials for some time now.
That being said, you can see all the dates for the launch of the new TLD's here: http://www.key-systems.net/english/news/new-gtlds/new-gtld-launch-dates.html. We cannot see anything imminent for the GoLive dates (public launch), as the dates all seem to coincide with the beginning of February. So, perhaps this is not it.
Whatever it is, we don't think it is part of some massive advert campaign, at least not just yet. The photo looks very poorly photo-shopped, and therefore it might be a precursor to something bigger, or just Namecheap's marketing team just having a little fun.
Essentially, we have no idea what it is about!