The domain experience is about to get upgraded

September 15, 2009

It’s near time for slutty domain registrars and confusing DNS hosts to die in a fire.

I’ve wanted to reinvent the domain registration and management experience for a while. Every time I use what’s out there now I die a little inside. I have over 100 domains and I register new ones fairly often. Here’s my current experience:

I start with Instant Domain Search when I think of a domain or need to come up with a domain. Real-time check-as-you-type really helps you in the brainstorming process. There’s actually nothing wrong with this. It’s the most fun part of the experience, but it ends here.

Then I register. If it’s not a fancy TLD like .io or something, I use the registrar that I have most my domains with: Cheap Domain Registration. This is perhaps the worst part. It’s basically a GoDaddy reseller that I stumbled across a long time ago and started registering domains with. Since I’d rather not have my domains across several crappy registrars, I’ve decided to stick with them. Plus, it’s such a frickin pain to transfer domains. I’ve done it a few times and I still don’t even know how it works.

Anyway, it’s effectively GoDaddy, which is the most popular registrar. I don’t exactly know why. It’s probably the sluttiest of them all. It’s so noisy, fake, and slow. Decent prices, but of course they’re going to try and upsell you in every way possible. They got me once because I was in a hurry and I clicked the wrong thing. It’s at least (yes, they give you the option for more) 3 pages of upsell offers.

However, it does have good support, which is important because DNS and domains are such a pain to novices. I sort of like the fact they call me sometimes after registering asking if I got everything set up. I told them never to call me again, but that I’m happy they’re doing that.

That good karma goes out the window when you try and manage your domains. This is the slowest part, and the second worst part of the experience next to avoiding all the upsell traps. Luckily I don’t need to use it ever except for DNS.

Now, it’s nice of them to provide free DNS, but it’s so hard to get to and so clunky once I’m there. I usually want to use EveryDNS just for that, but I still have to use their interface to point my domain to EveryDNS. I also tend to use their web redirect for making naked domains go to www, since each one of those would use up my limited number of records on EveryDNS. So I’m stuck with them for that usually.

Once I’ve got it pointed to EveryDNS, it’s pretty okay. The EveryDNS interface is not so pretty, but it’s quick and to the point. I remember getting a bit confused in the early days, partly due to the interface and partly due to DNS not being the most user friendly of technologies. Unfortunately my free account can only have 20 records, including web redirects. I should probably just donate and get that lifted, but I suppose I’m lazy. I usually just swap out domains I’m not using anymore, or end up using my registrar’s DNS for simple domains.

In the end I’m using up to three systems, DNS and registration both being quite a hassle, particularly in the setup. But if you register a lot of domains, make a lot of sites, you’re in setup mode quite a bit. There are a lot of things that could be better, from the UI to the sales process. It could all be one nice solution that’s just done right.

So I decided to start working on that. It’s called domdori, which is short for “domains done right.” The core experience looks like this:

You find a domain with real-time search. Then you use Amazon 1-click payment to buy the domain right there. You now have the domain. The default records don’t make your new domain point to some ugly, slutty landing page advertisement. The default landing page is whatever you make it. In fact, the DNS settings can default to whatever you want. You get not only an advanced DNS manager UI for power users, but a very straightforward DNS manager UI with smart defaults and complexity abstracted away for most users.

That alone would just completely make my day, but there’s more (in a “less” sort of way). Only, we’ll save that for later. Until then, a public alpha of domdori is approaching…

21 Responses to “The domain experience is about to get upgraded”

  1. Brian Says:

    Yes!!!! Make it so! I hate registrars with a passion!


  2. Dude awesome, you better get working on domain transfer also because I got about 50 coming your way as soon as you get this off the ground

  3. Jon Parise Says:

    I follow the user experience part, but I can’t tell if domdori is itself a registrar and/or DNS provider (or just a nice front-end for GoDaddy and EveryDNS).

  4. Julien Says:

    Well : good luck! This really seems like the “casino” business : half-mafia, half-crooks. Give a shot at gandi.net : they’re clean, simple and by far my favorite so far…


  5. Sounds good and you’re absolutely right. Domain registration and management is just a pain. We were frustrated as well and started our http://iwantmyname.com domain management service. It’s about time that the established registrars get some competition… so good luck with your project!


  6. So, eNom already does what you want. :)

    But they have a GREAT reseller program…you should check them out for the back end API. I think you’d love it.

    I have all my domains registered there.

    If you want to avoid their $1500 credit required, go through a reseller (wrinx.com/Name123/index.html is one; I have no experience with this particular one.) Going through a reseller, as far as I can tell, results in the same experience as working with eNom directly…including full API access.

    -Erica

  7. Drew LeSueur Says:

    Will we be able to register domains like .io and .tl etc?

  8. La Rumpy Pumpy Says:

    Aren’t eNom the bunch who yanked that guy’s domain because he was offering tourism information about Cuba? And it’s verboten in the USA?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/us/04bar.html

    I wouldn’t touch them, or their resellers, with a 10-ft pole after that little stunt.

    • Jeff Lindsay Says:

      Interesting. Well, if you can find a registrar that actually has a fully functional API, I’m open to using it. There’s basically nobody else. But that might change if we get off the ground … the problem is we have to bootstrap *somehow*.


  9. Jeff,

    I’ll be happy to pitch in financially if you need it.


  10. This sounds familiar :-) I’ve been playing around with this idea myself for quite some time – even went so far as to make a fully functional REST interface for PowerDNS, which would accommodate web hooks very nicely…

    All it needs is really the UI.

    We’re in a fairly similar situation to you, ~100 domains, mostly registered through iDotz and managed at DNSMadeEasy (don’t go there).

    Got my plate fairly full at the moment, through, being in the middle of a startup. But feel free to contact me if you want to talk :-)

  11. gforce32 Says:

    Hi,

    I use joker domain registrations, they are the best – even a domain in redemption you can get it back – brilliant service, i’ve tried godday, networksolutions, idotz, cheap domains, joker is where it is at.

    :)

  12. harper Says:

    did this project ever launch?


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