I run a couple of websites and I have several domain names. I struggle to recommend a place for non-technical "civilians" to register a domain name though. The first service I ever used was GoDaddy, which seems to be focused on less technical customers, but the experience is just so terrible. The sales process goes all out to load up customers with a dozen things they don't need.

These days I just use one my current hosting providers.

So as webmasters, where do you send your non-technical friends to register domain names? Is there a nice, simple, friendly service out there?


Most web hosts allow you to register a domain through them. It's not a very technical process. All you have to do is pick a domain name and then put in your billing information. It's pretty much the same as purchasing anything else online.

There's not much differentiation in difficulty or ease of use. Just like price, it's going to be about the same wherever you register it. Just refer them to a good, professional web host, and they can register and manage their domain using their hosting account. This saves them the trouble of having to mess with DNS servers. It also makes billing easier (plus most hosting plans give you a free domain).

For shared hosting or VPS, DreamHost has fairly competitive pricing and good service. In terms of finding a reputable/non-sleazy web host, you could do a lot worse than them. Just don't go with a company that is cheap up front but charges you for basic services or lacks basic services. I tend to stick with the larger well known web host (local/no-name hosting companies tend to be incompetent and a poor value when you take into account their limited capabilities). But I definitely wouldn't use Godaddy.

  • Thanks. This makes total sense if the person is interested in purchasing hosting at the same time. I'm really wondering whether any of these services a particularly consumer friendly for the domain name only option. I do take your point that reputable name is better than no-name/local.
    – Greg
    Jan 21 '11 at 21:22
  • 1
    +1 for what is arguably the most user-friendly method... note that domain sales are often a losing proposition for hosting companies (support cost > marginal revenue when prices are cheap) so Godaddy may represent the best value (if you can stomach the registration process). DreamHost's registration form for domain purchases is here: dreamhost.com/domains.html
    – danlefree
    Jan 21 '11 at 23:12
  • @Greg: Could you elaborate on your situation? In my experience, most people who buy domains either already have a web host or are looking for one. So you sign up for hosting first and get your free domain, then you can buy additional add-on domains as you need. This would be easiest for the user. Otherwise, if they purchase the domain first, they'll need to get hosting separately and set the nameservers for each domain. It'll be a lot more work. If for some reason they absolutely don't have or need hosting, then just use a service like registercheaper.com. Jan 24 '11 at 3:09
  • I have come across several situations. One would be the person that would like to register their child's name for a site they plan to set up later. Another would be for any of the services that offer a custom domain (e.g. Wordpress.com, Blogger) which do have their own built in domain registration, but some people would like all their domains under one roof. A third would be the client of web design services where the site will be deployed using something like EngineYard with DNS pointing to the deployment. The design firm could register the domain, but it is cleaner if the client does so.
    – Greg
    Jan 26 '11 at 20:26

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