Adam Stoner

HEY for Domains review (previously: HEY for Work)

I’ve sorted your mail into three categories for you: People who are kissing your ass, people whose asses you should be kissing, and people whose asses are huge

We could all do with a friend like Amanda and HEY, the email product from Basecamp, is it. I’ve been following HEY for quite some time but was reluctant to switch because they didn’t offer custom domains. HEY for Work, which I was invited to last month, does. I switched in minutes.

_As with everything on this website, I haven’t been paid, received anything for free, or even been asked to write this. _

Here’s everything I love and hate about HEY for Work.

I am totally in love The Screener, HEY’s most divisive feature, which allows me to grant or completely deny senders access to my inbox (which they call an ‘Imbox’)

Your Imbox is where important, immediate emails go from people or services you care about. No random receipts, no “I rarely read these” newsletters, and no special offers crowding out the stuff you really care about.

The Screener focuses around this idea of ‘no consent, no attention’, as in, ‘if I haven’t given you permission to email me, you don’t get to’, which I really like. I’ve found screening-out senders much more effective and satisfying than sending them to a spam folder or taking the time to set up filtering rules.

I (sort of) hate Previously Seen. Old habits die hard and I’m very much an Inbox Zero guy. I’m slowly warming to ‘Previously Seen’ (or at least getting used to it) which just dumps all emails from the Imbox into a timeline below it once you’ve opened them. Beyond the ability to add labels to emails, there’s very little filtering available in HEY which brings me to my next point…

I hate no folders which would solve my problem of Previously Seen. The only way to file emails you’re finished with is to Trash them or just leave them sitting there. I’d much prefer an Archive.

I love The Feed which filters newsletters into a newsfeed-like environment to read at your leisure.

The Feed shows all your newsletters — already open — with the newest at the top. Just scroll to read. It’s like a Twitter or Instagram feed, but for email.

I love the Paper Trail which is The Feed for transaction-related emails like receipts or offers. Unlike The Feed, emails stay closed.

I love Reply Later and Focus and Reply, which sets emails aside to action. When you’re ready, they line-up – email on the left, reply box on the right – and you can knock them down one after the other. This has saved me so much time this past month and alongside The Screener is one of HEY’s killer features.

I hate Set Aside which puts a pin in key emails and holds them at the bottom of your screen so that you can access them quickly. It feels like a band-aid for what could be a better ‘Previously Seen’ experience.

I hate search because it doesn’t show me everything. Searching Trash, Spam, or Screened Out, which is where people you’ve denied access to your Imbox vanish to, isn’t possible. But I also love it because it allows me to search for more than sender or subject. I can get a wall of emails and all their attachments which is very handy.

I love Bundle which lets me group dominating but important senders into a single thread to read through. I also love that I can ignore threads I’m copied into but that might not be relevant for me.

I love the security but I’d like to see more. I swapped from end-to-end encrypted ProtonMail to use HEY and I’m really enjoying it. HEY demands two-factor authentication – it’s mandatory – and since it’s a product people pay for ($99/yr for an domain, $12/mo + taxes per user for a custom domain via HEY for Work), I trust that it won’t be used for dataharvesting. I’d like to see HEY implement zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption like ProtonMail and strongly believe that this level of security should be the primary focus for any new product like HEY.

You can read the complete list of features HEY offers here.

HEY is a really different way of doing email but that’s to be expected from a company who’s written a manifesto about it. It has undoubtedly changed the way I use email – I use it more (and more efficiently at that) – and overall, I find many things I love about HEY more than things I don’t. It’s worth noting that I’m something of a unique case when it comes to using HEY for Work as I’m using it solo. I forward my work email to it and use HEY’s SMTP set-up to send email out again but some of HEY for Work’s biggest features will undoubtedly shine when an entire team uses it. Sadly, I’m literally here just for custom domains.

Should you switch? Yes, if only to get away from the stale and stagnating product you’re currently using. Over all, I love HEY, I respect their vision, and I’m here to stay and support that. Let me know what you think – [email protected]. I’ll screen you in.

Oh, and back to Amanda:

15 Feb 2021

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