Starting a website from scratch is harder than it should be. Every step—from registering the domain name to hosting the site to actually building and maintaining it—requires going to a separate third-party service. Shouldn’t there just be one place where you can get everything you need?
As of today, there is. Domain registrar Namecheap launched a new website creation marketplace within its own platform. With one click, Namecheap users can now install third-party services like site builders, email hosting, and social profiles like about.me. Most importantly, they’re also inviting developers to build integrations of their own—like an app store built by developers, for developers. “Our goal is to ensure that people never have to touch DNS”—the Internet’s main domain naming framework—”again,” says Namecheap COO Hillan Klein. “We really focused on simplifying this experience completely, end to end.”
Launch partners include Weebly, Google Apps, and a number of services for things like website performance monitoring, legal resources, logo creation, and other miscellaneous aspects of existing on the Internet. The company’s hope is that by opening things up to developers, it can amass an arsenal of third-party services; however, with only nine apps, the marketplace is pretty limited at launch. At the moment it lacks things as obvious as a one-click WordPress install, although Klein assures me they’re actively working on one, and the the company is already in discussion with more than 30 potential partners.
For developers, the process isn’t a free-for-all. At least initially, Namecheap will require devs to seek up-front approval for app ideas before granting them access to the API used to build things for this marketplace. Rather than accepting submissions for approval, Namecheap will establish what Klein describes as “a partnership” with each third party, ensuring that developers are properly oriented with Namecheap’s tools and technical requirements.
Once those partnerships are under way, developers will benefit from the company’s growing reach: Namecheap has 4.5 million customers and says it adds 250,000 new domains each month. Developers will also get a cut of the revenue made from these integrations, most of which come with a monthly price tag. Instead of a standard percentage cut like the Google or Apple app stores, the Namecheap apps marketplace will approach the rev-share differently on a case-by-case basis.
One possible sticking point for consumers is that most of these integrations charge a monthly fee for use via Namecheap–including services that are normally free. This pay-per-service subscription model is the cost that customers will need to incur for the convenience of one-click, code-free integrations.
For non-technical customers (which, it’s important to remember, is most people), the convenience may well be worth paying for. If so, Namecheap may well be onto something with this model.