Choosing a Domain Registrar Actually Makes a Difference

When you run a website, regardless if it’s for pleasure and enjoyment or as a business, you rely on other people to help make it work.  When they fail you, it’s not just a bummer, it’s costing you money.  When the electric, cable or your home Internet goes out, a cell phone call gets dropped or your GPS can’t give you directions, it wastes time and money.  In all the time I’ve been hosting websites, never before has choosing a domain registrar made such a difference to me.

For the best of my memories I started hosting my own website back around 2000, and the Internet did not make it entirely simply, but by 2001, with the dot com bubble growing, websites became easier to use and the mystery of how to build and host a website become much easier for a younger me to figure out.  There are essentially three parts to having your own website on the Internet;

  • A domain name
  • Web hosting
  • Website content

The first two can and are often done by one company, although many people use separate companies for each.  Without making this article overly complicated and because there are more than enough articles on how to register a domain name, where to get hosting and how to build a site, I’m going to focus on the actual choosing of these companies you wish to partner with, specifically a domain registrar.

A domain registrar serves one function, they are meant to help you acquire the lease for the domain name you want, such as for example.  Within their ability to renew this domain for you, you should be quickly and easily able to edit the DNS servers (to point the domain to your web host of choice), renew the domain name and transfer the domain to someone else or another web host.  Those are essentially their core functions.  For over a decade now I’ve been doing this, and most of the time it’s been with GoDaddy.

At first it was because they were cheap, and it was the early 2000’s and buying and selling domains was popular and one could actually make good money at it, so I used them for this.  Everything was straight forward.  Sometime around 5 years ago GoDaddy’s business model started to transition and they began putting more money into advertising, including fun commercials online, sponsoring Indy cars and basically saying to the world hey world, we are the best! What changed, for the worse, was customer service, website usability and the core functions of what their website should do for a user.  In the technical world, this is called the User Experience, or UX for short, and User Interface Designers, or UI Designers, get paid a lot of money to increase the rate at which we buy products on website.

I stayed with GoDaddy, through all their design changes and constant push to up-sell me services, web hosting and email that I didn’t need.

As the years went on, the up-sells continued, but so did the amount of time and energy they put into getting me to renew my domain names.  I started getting email notices 3 months before they were set to expire.  2 months before they expire a post card would show up in my mail with a coupon code and if it was a month before they’d expire I knew a phone call was coming from a sales associate, offering to help me renew, offer me a discount then try to up-sell me on some more services.  At the time GoDaddy domain renewals ran about $7.49, I remember asking the sales associate at what point they made profit.  After postal mail charges and paying his / her salary, how was there any meat on the bone?  They were dumbfounded with the question.

By 2011, even with a nifty iPhone app, my allegiance to GoDaddy was wearing thin.  Just doing something as simple as changing the DNS servers on a domain name, or even renewing it became a huge headache.  In March a story broke about president Bob Parsons elephant hunting expedition in Africa, complete with video.  I’m not anti-gun, anti-hunting and I’m not vegan, although I do support everything anyone I care about chooses to do, from religion to their stand on gun control, but this video is vile.  This now left a bad taste in my mouth, as I don’t want to line the pockets of that man anymore so he can do such cruel and unnecessary things with my money.

November was about the last straw for me, Godaddy publicly came out supporting SOPA. In a nutshell, SOPA is bad, really bad.  So bad that people like Ben Huh sent out tweets saying they’d transfer 1,000 of their domain names if GoDaddy didn’t change their stance, Kevin Rose was equally outspoken on the subject. No one wanted SOPA to pass as law, it did nothing good for the Internet.  The day after this virtually every domain registrar on the web was offering discounts to those who wanted off of GoDaddy, these were put together in one of the most popular Reddit posts ever, complete with transfer instructions for virtually every company.

How bad was this impact on GoDaddy?  Within two days at least 37,000 domain names were transferred away from the company, or roughly one quarter of a million dollars.  I did my homework this time, I looked at more than price, I looked at support time, customer reviews, how active the social media aspects of each business were, I wanted to know that my new registrar was going to be with me for another decade of my business.  I ended up choosing when it was all said and done.  Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but for me, the best.

Their website is clean, easy to use and actually makes sense.  Support is top notch and get this, I actually enjoy following them on Twitter.  In the one case I had specific questions and needed to reach out and submit a trouble ticket, it was answered within a few hours and was not auto-generated.  Someone actually wrote it.  I also didn’t have to shift through 500 words of sales copy to find what they were actually trying to tell me.

Now, I didn’t move all of my domains at once, in fact, as of this writing I have 2 left with GoDaddy and have been moving them as they expire.  My options on why they need to be moved today is all that much more apparent.  Yesterday GoDaddy was the victim of an Internet attack, not only did their site go down, and unknown number, presumed to be in the millions of websites, also went down.  Full disclaimer, every web hosting company on earth offers 99.9% up time, what that really means is that 0.1% will equal out to about 2 hours of down time per year.  No lawyer alive will make a 100% up-time guarantee, it’s not possible.  But, because of GoDaddy’s wishy washy stance on SOPA and other matters, it’s opened them up to become targets for hackers.

Today I’m making the move, and they are offering the first 500 transfers from GoDaddy to them for free, limited to 1 per person.  The older I get (now in my early 30’s) the more things like customer service and usability carry weight.  I have roughly a dozen domain names registered a year, spending an extra 50 cents to $1 per domain to host with a company I believe in, who believes in me by providing a service I want to use, that’s easy to use, is worth it.  That company is

In closing, I recently watched this wonderful video with Seth Godin titled This is Broken, and I think a lot of what he talks about in here, GoDaddy needs to listen to, specifically the first few minutes.