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I looked at VistaPrint's checkout process last month, and found it one of the most annoying and complicated ones I had ever seen, but now I have found a checkout to rival it.

Like VistaPrint, domain name registration company GoDaddy overcomplicates its checkout process by adding a ridiculous amount of cross-selling options that are sure to annoy all but the most determined customers.

From selecting your desired domain name and selecting 'proceed to checkout' to finally completing the order, there are up to 10 steps in the process, which is way too many.

Econsultancy has published reports on checkout process usability, and Go Daddy manages to flout most of the best practice guidelines for creating a smooth transaction for customers.

Having selected a domain name and clicked on the checkout button, this is the first page I come across, which tries to sell me variations on my domain name. Note that the 'continue to checkout link' is the smallest on the page:

Go Daddy checkout

If this was the limit of the cross-selling, this may not be too bad, but it gets much worse. Having registered and entered my name and address details, Go Daddy then tries to sell me domains linked to my name:

Go Daddy cross sell

None of the e-commerce best practice recommendations on enclosing the checkout and removing distractions from customers have been heeded here and, aside from the incessant cross-selling, the pages are full of ads for other services, as well as all the standard navigation links.

It takes some effort just to find a path through these distractions towards the end of the process.

Another feature of the site is that a lot of the links that take customers further along the payment process either stand out less than the 'add to cart' buttons, or are underneath the fold, forcing customers to scroll through all the additional offers before proceeding.

This page is one example of this, the proceed link is below the fold, just underneath the visible portion you can see in this screenshot:

Worse still, if you are not careful, you will be tricked into accessing one of the worst cross-sell pages ever. The link to continue is clear enough but, just above, the option to 'customize my order' is pre-selected:

If you fail to spot this crafty trick, then you will get this awful page packed with offers for web hosting services, email storage, marketing services and more, with much scrolling to do before users can continue.

Only after this step, and having selected the 'proceed to checkout' option five pages ago, do I finally reach my shopping basket page.

Not only does Go Daddy make the process almost unbearable with so much cross-selling and so many distractions, the forms are more complicated than they need to be, asking me for mobile carrier info and more.

Unobservant customers, in their desperation to finally reach the finishing line, may miss the email opt-ins, which are hidden below the fold as well as underneath the crucial checkout button, and are pre-filled. This means customers may sign up to four different emails, as well as SMS notifications, catalogues by mail and more. Not exactly best practice for email sign-ups.

Go Daddy email opt-in

Now, as with VistaPrint's process, Go Daddy may well get away with such poor checkout usability because customers have already made the effort in deciding on a suitable domain name and other options, meaning they have to jump through all these hoops to get to the payment page.

However, this kind of cross-selling would be suicidal for other online retailers, which is why you see very little of this sort of aggressive cross-selling from successful e-commerce sites.

It should also consider the bad publicity generated by customers talking about it online. A quick search on Twitter reveals much annoyance at the checkout process, and you will find similar results on Google. Go Daddy is on Twitter, but I can't find any evidence of the company answering these customer complaints.

There are more than 50 negative comments on Twitter in the last month alone; here are a few examples:

Dear #godaddy. Every year I spend ~ $1k on you. Why can't I have a quick, spam-free VIP checkout process!?

the GoDaddy upsell screens have to be the most frustrating checkout in the world. i try VERY hard not to do biz with GoDaddy.

I truly despise GoDaddy's checkout process. I will never buy another domain through them again.

I use godaddy. I like their tools. But I feel dirty at checkout with all the extra crap^H^H^H^Hoffers they throw at you.

GoDaddy should consider how far it can annoy its users before they will have had enough though, as well as the kind of improvements that could potentially be made to their checkout abandonment rates  and in terms of long term customer retention by providing a smoother process.

Graham Charlton

Published 23 February, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Matt,

You're quite right - this clearly works for GoDaddy, even though I (and others) think that the user experience is awful.

I wouldn't recommend this for other sites though, and perhaps GoDaddy only gets away with it because of its dominant position in the market.

Maybe there is a gap in the market for a domain registrar which provides a smoother process.

over 7 years ago

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Hubbers

Please don't use Vistaprint or recommend it to your readers.

Using Vistaprint could very likely lead to you being signed up to FAKE discount clubs and hundreds of dollars benig taken from you Visa/bank without your knowledge or permission.

I have a huge blog post with all the details of all of the different scamming sites Vistaprint and Adaptive Affinity run and how best to get a refund.

http://www.hubbers.com/index.php/i-got-scammed-by-vistaprint-and-adaptive-marketing-and-adaptive-affinity-ltd-and-amazon/

If you don't believe me check this blog and the scores of comments form people who have been ripped off!
http://www.thegeneva.com/vistaprint-scamvprewards-scam-warning/

You can also sign this petition!
http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?stop1111&1

over 7 years ago

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Bonochromatic

Thanks for turning your sharp critical eye at GoDaddy! I found their checkout process so bulky and borderline misleading and dishonest that I finally cancelled my account with them and switched to Dreamhost - who have a beautiful, simple checkout system that works for me 100% of the time and never puts charges I don't really I accepted on my accounts.

over 7 years ago

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Jonathan Saipe

My sentiments exactly. We recently purchased a basic SSL certificate via Go Daddy. To add to the mix, we had a discount voucher that only seemd to apply to certain combinations of packages. So, between myself and a senior developer it took us 20 minutes to check out. 

Good value for money, but painful beyond words.

over 7 years ago

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Mark

I think GoDaddy is a great example of good merchandising. What it shows is what many people have known for ages: if you having something people really want, they'll put up with a lot of rubbish to buy it. There's a lot of emphasis on improving checkouts, and while I don't want to diminish it, you need to make people want what they are buying - the best checkout in the world won't sell a poorly merchandised product. We've all had the experience, online or offline, where there's something you really really want to buy but for whatever reason are having major troubles doing it yet you persist. In the case of GoDaddy, I suspect the domains are close to break even and the upsell is where they make their money. Their cheap prices, fairly good upfront experience and strong brand = people willing to put up with a lot.

over 7 years ago

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Matthew

Some deep psychology going on here. In a strange kind of way, as a customer you're thankful that you're being shown what you might be missing - it's almost like being taken care of. Obviously VistaPrint and GoDaddy will split test continuously to see what checkout tricks bring the biggest ROI and it's probably no coincidence they're the biggest companies in their sectors. This upsell to the power of 10 technique is obviously working for them right now even though it puts some people off. It's similar to TV ads - people will sit through them.

over 3 years ago

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psoriasis

He sufrido psoriasis por demasiados meses y probado variedad de terapias con poco acierto

over 3 years ago

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