OK, Available

I decided I don’t want Domain Pigeon to claim it has free domain names when it actually doesn’t. Using the word free to attract traffic to the site is dishonest, no matter how I tried to rationalize it.

I imagine a conversation with a new visitor:

“Free domain names? Really?”

“Well, not really, you still have to pay the registration fee.”

“So its not actually free…”

“No one owns it, so, in that sense it’s free.”

“That’s not what free means”

“Yeah but if got you to come to the site didn’t it?”

“Go screw yourself”

“Fair enough”

With that in mind, domains are now available. They’re not free. They never were.

Screw the numbers. It’s not worth it.

More Updates

The news:

Domains are now added once per day instead of throughout the day like it has been for the last several days. Doing it this way will let me emphasize the daily additions as well as result in a more colorful homepage, since more people will be able to explore the same set of domains throughout the day.

I’m on the east coast. Most techies are on the west coast. 2PM EST = 11AM PST, which seems like a good middle ground.

On a less significant note, I changed the fonts and colors of the domain count and the countdown timer. It looks better now, but I think it could still use some work.

Coming along…

Surprise: New layout

It just wasn’t right before and I couldn’t put my finger on it until today: there was no contrast between the white content and the light gray outside area. All my attempts to make the colors soothing had created this big gray amorphous blob. By using the off-black color, it really helps the content stand out.

Few other changes:

Frequency: 120 domains every 3 hours, or 960 domains/day instead of 60 every 60 minutes (1440/day). Originally I had planned on doing 1/minute, but the more I saw it in action the more it didn’t seem viable. By pushing all the recent domain names off the front page quickly it minimized the variety of colors on the homepage. 90% of the time it was entirely white. By reducing how often the domains are added it will help preserve some of the previous visitor’s browsing history. It’s also less crazy.

Go GoDaddy: The dropdown boxes now have only links to GoDaddy. They’re my best performing affiliate, I like their service (I use them to manage my domain names), and their support is fantastic. Also, more selection may have actually been detrimental to click through rates of new users.

Hover vs Click: No more clicking on the homepage domains. All you have to do is hover and it’ll take care of the drop down for you. Why the change? Again, more color. The downside: the domain name verification with Verisign is no longer visible; it all takes place in the background. The dropdown reflects the status of the domain when the page was last loaded. This actually doesn’t matter too much because 99% of the time available domain names are going to result in an available status from the WHOIS server.

Other things that changed: the wording on the left column (again) and the You+Me… moved to the top, as it was just out of place on the side.

The rounded corners on the content area are courtesy of roundedcornr.com, which automates the whole process.

Getting there…

Free Domain Names! Well… kind of

Most importantly, Domain Pigeon now has free domain names, not available domain names. They’re free now? Well… not really. Depends on what you mean by “free”. No one owns the domains, so they are free of ownership. However, to own one, you do have to pay for the registration, which costs a few bucks.

I talked to a bunch of people about whether to make the change. Their responses ranged from “sure, why not?” to “well… they’re not really free in the way that people mean free.” I wanted people to say the first answer, but most said the second.

Ultimately, I ignored them and made the change for two reasons:

Traffic

The competition is a lot tougher, but, hey, why not go for gold? Bronze should never be your goal.

Humanitarian

Just kidding. Here’s the thing: none of the other search results for free domain names are really free either. They all are “free” if you sign up for some expensive hosting plan:

It costs registrars something like $6 to actually register a domain name. None are free w/o a catch.

So in a sense…. I’m doing people a service if I get domain pigeon high enough on the search results.

You’ve got to love rationalization.