I just moved a few of my domains over to Google’s new Domains service to try out the new product. Until now I’d been using NameCheap for registration, having switched from GoDaddy a few years previously after my willingless to tolerate their trademark terrible UX fell behind by my unwillingness to pay what other registrars were asking1.
For a .org domain, Google’s sticker price of $12 is cheaper than NameCheap if you account for private registration, a feature that’s free with Google. NameCheap charges $11.48 for the domain and $2.88 for the privacy for a total of $14.36. NameCheap however is a known purveyor of frequent discount codes, so a savvy Internet consumer may be able to knock a few bucks off of that.
When I arrived, NameCheap’s UI was only incrementally better than GoDaddy’s in that it had fewer flashing upsell advertisements, but they’d been improving steadily over the years. Most recently, they modernized their domain control panel and it’s largely more tolerable now. But even with the improvements, they’re a far shot from Google, whose streamlined interface let me transfer in domain with a minimal amount of fuss and only necessitated that I fill out on the order of half a dozen total text boxes.
My favorite Google feature was the DNS import which summarized records in a way that made them easy to eyeball, but without losing important detail. For example, it would indicate that it found “website settings” for A and CNAME records, but would also list the corresponding names of those records. Another nice touch is that it wraps up the big chunk of MX records required for a Google Apps configuration as just “Google Apps”, conveniently keeping most of that off your screen by default.
I did run into a couple small bugs involving Google not being able to fetch information for a domain, but was able to bypass them by refreshing a few minutes later. It’s still considered a beta product so I was expecting a few rough edges (although historically the word “beta” doesn’t carry much meaning with Google, so it’s hard to say how mature they consider the service to be).
Google already had me with their great UX and transparent pricing model, but even without that I might have switched anyway just to minimize the number of merchants who are holding my credit card number. For the time being, they’ve got my business.
1 GoDaddy had also caught themselves up on the wrong side of the latest bout of fighting of the war of net neutrality, which further accelerated my move. The exact details of that are lost to history though.
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