Today we look at some strategies for choosing that most essential of Web properties, your domain name.
A domain name says a lot about your business. It’s the very first interaction anyone has with your site, before they ever even load a page. It has to convey who you are, what you do, why you’re interesting, and perhaps where you’re located. There’s a lot of pressure on that poor little string of letters!
The first thing you have to decide is whether you’re looking for your brand to become immensely famous, or if it’s more important to be descriptive. What’s the difference?
Consider names like Zappos.com (shoes), Zynga.com (social gaming), and even Twitter.com (short messages). These were all branded to be unique and recognizable, and their names have nothing to do with what they are about.
On the other hand, there’s 9news.com, TCFbank.com, and MWDwebDenver.com. Perhaps not as unique or arresting as the brands above, but you definitely get the sense of what to expect at these sites, and even where you would find the company geographically, in the case of that last domain.
Regardless of which strategy you choose, there are three basic things to keep in mind when choosing your domain name.
1. Keep It Short
No one wants to type in a long, complicated address to get to your site. Which of these sites are you more likely to type into your browser?
You also want to avoid having hyphens in your domain name. Think how tedious it would be to tell someone, “My Web site is at ‘this dash is dash my dash website dot com.'”
2. Make It Memorable
You want people to be able to remember your address just by telling it to them. (This ties in with point 1 above; the shorter your address, the easier it is to remember.) After all, it’s why we have domain names in the first place, instead of referring to our sites by the IP address of the server.
“My web site is at 193.08.3.29! …Or is it 189.08.3.25? Wait… I have it written down somewhere…”
3. Be Descriptive
Again, this only applies if you aren’t looking to fulfill point 2 by being totally unexpected. If you’re not a great big brand that everyone’s heard of, and you don’t necessarily have aspirations to become one, it’s a good idea to give your visitors a clue as to what your site is about.
Many companies set their domain name to the name of their company (XYZ Loans — XYZloans.com), but you might also choose to make the domain name about your service (EasyLoanNow.com).
Next time: More fun with domain names!