Masking Complexity

Making it easy to configure and install DNS records

Masking Complexity

Installing and configuring DKIM/SPF records is inherently technical. SendGrid's version of this—“whitelabel”—was no different. But setting these up is critical to getting email to the inbox, so it was in our customers' interest to set these up. To simplify this process, I led a redesign that used smart defaults, progressive disclosure, and visualization.

The following designs use the legacy name of this feature, "domain whitelabel." As part of this redesign, we later changed the name to "domain authentication," a term that users thought resonated better.

Wizard Setup

Certain steps later in the process vary slightly depending on the DNS host. By starting with that question, we were able to customize later instructions. In addition, the question acted as an implicit filter for users who aren't prepared for this process.

Reducing friction

One of the biggest questions with whitelabel was “what will this make my from address and links look like?” To answer this, we embed an email preview and update it in real time, based on their input. That way they can see exactly what is happening.

As they enter their domain, we silently gather information about their site and make setup decisions on their behalf. This enabled us to omit the single form field that caused most people to bail. (Of course, if they so choose, they can override our choices in “Advanced Settings.”)

This use of progressive disclosure provides simplicity while accommodating power users.

Dealing with DNS records

The user can quickly obtain the DNS records we create.

If they don't personally control the DNS records, they can send these to someone who can.

Verifying the records

DNS records often take a few moments to verify, but sometimes they can take up to 48 hours.

We handle both situations by doing a quick check and, if we don't see them, continuing to poll in the background for the next 48 hours. If we find the records, we send them a congratulatory email. If not, we follow up with instructions to help them troubleshoot the problem.


Based on the changes, we saw increased success for users who started the process of creating a whitelabel. Correspondingly, we saw reductions in both in-app feedback and support tickets attributed to this feature.