Developer Experience: Emails

While looking at the developer onboarding of Twilio, Stripe, Pusher and SendGrid I noticed certain design patterns that were common across all of them. This article is the first in a series where I’ll take a deeper look at specific parts of developer onboarding and how companies implement them differently.

In this first installment I’ll look at the emails that are sent to developers when they sign up. Often these are part of a larger campaign of a trickle of emails, so I specifically focus on any emails sent on the same day as I signed up.

Overview

The following are some of the core elements that seem to be present across the 4 companies I’ve reviewed so far.

  SendGrid Pusher Stripe Twilio
Email verification
Link to documentation
Link to support
Link to dashboard
Links to Get Started

Note: this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor am I saying that any omissions of these elements is a bad thing. This table just serves as an indicator of what’s important to these companies and the level in which they share certain features.

Observations

Further down I show every email I received, but before that I want to summarize some of the most interesting observations that I made.

Timeline

Everyone but Stripe sent me 2 emails on the first day. Mostly they consisted of a confirmation email to confirm my email address, and a information heavy email with some content as to how to proceed next.

Pusher interestingly sent me the emails both at the same time, while SendGrid (an email company) took 2.5 hours to send me the second email.

SendGrid 2.5 hours apart
Pusher 0 minutes apart
Twilio 30 minutes apart

Senders

From the 3 companies that sent me more than one email (Twilio, Pusher, SendGrid) only Twilio used a consistent from address and name.

The most come email addresses seem to be a variation of [company]team@ and support@.

SendGrid SendGrid Support <support@sendgrid.com>
  SendGrid <sendgridteam@sendgrid.com>
Pusher Pusher <support@pusher.com>
  The Pusher Team <team@pusher.com>
Stripe Stripe <support@stripe.com>
Twilio Team Twilio <teamtwilio@twilio.com>
  Team Twilio <teamtwilio@twilio.com>

Content-Type

Obviously SendGrid send me some beautiful HTML emails. Interestingly (as far as I can tell) the emails were HTML only, and not a multi part email with a text fallback. They probably have very good reasons to do so, as they are the email experts.

Pusher and Stripe just sent plain text emails.

Twilio also sent me 2 HTML emails but in this case they did have plain text backups.

SendGrid HTML x2
Pusher TEXT x2
Stripe TEXT
Twilio HTML/TEXT x2

Length

Another observation is that all emails except for Twilio’s fit on my screen completely. In comparison to the other companies the emails that Twilio sends are MASSIVE. I have to admit they are awesome, they contain full GIFs showcasing what the product does, and are full of useful links on how to use their product in real life.

Lack of personalization

One final observation was the surprising lack of personalization. Only one email mentions me by name, and only one other email seems to have been catered to any other infirmation I provided on signup.

Only the first email I received from Twilio seems to be catered to the use case I chose on sign up (messaging, not voice).



SendGrid

The emails

Subject: Welcome To SendGrid! Confirm Your Email
From: SendGrid Support <support@sendgrid.com>
Received: 15:19

SendGrid

Subject: Before You Press Send...
From: SendGrid <sendgridteam@sendgrid.com>
Received: 17:55 (over 2.5 hours later)

SendGrid

Insights

Requires email confirmation on signup
Has a link to the generic documentation
Has a link to the support resources
Has a link to the dashboard
Does not have a link to a specific Get Started guide
Has a link to the company's social media accounts
Has a link to the company blog
Has a link to a 'go-live' checklist
Has a link to resources for non-developers


Pusher

The emails

Subject: [Pusher] Please verify your email address
From: Pusher <support@pusher.com>
Received: 16:30

Pusher 1/2

Subject: Pusher quick start guide
From: The Pusher Team <team@pusher.com>
Received: 16:30 (0 minutes later)

Pusher 2/2

Insights

Requires email confirmation on signup
Has a link to the generic documentation
Has a link to a specific Get Started guide
Has a link to the support, but only in the confirmation email
Does not have a link to the dashboard
Has links to guides for specific programming languages


Stripe

The email

Subject: Confirm your Stripe email address!
From: Stripe <support@stripe.com>

Stripe

Insights

Requires email confirmation on signup
Has a link to the generic documentation
Has a link to the support resources
Has a link to the dashboard
Does not have a link to a specific Get Started guide
Has a link to resources for non-developers


Twilio

The emails

Subject: Your Twilio Account: Getting Started
From: Team Twilio <teamtwilio@twilio.com>
Received: 15:52

Twilio

Subject: Twilio SMS free trial tips
From: Team Twilio <teamtwilio@twilio.com>
Received: 16:22 (30 minutes later)

Twilio

Insights

Has a link to the generic documentation
Has a link to the support resources
Has a link to the dashboard
Has a link to a specific Get Started guide
Does not require email confirmation on signup (but validates the phone number)
Has a link to resources for non-developers
Informs the user where their API credentials can be found
Shows an animation of the product in action
Has a link to products build with the solution
Informs the user of the Trial Account's limitations
Emails include animated GIFs to show demo of product in action


Hire me?

I am a freelance Developer Experience designer. If you want to know more about my work have a look at my portfolio and if you’d like for me to help improve your company’s Developer Experience then most definitely reach out to me via Twitter or email!


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