Is it hard to chose a website name?
Choosing a URL for your website can be as hard as naming a baby. Here are some of the questions to consider before taking this important step in establishing your business.
What is a URL?
A URL, or Unique Resource Locator, is an address on the Web. It might surprise many internet users that typing a domain into a web browser is not the only thing required to pull up a website. Domain names are simply used to direct web surfers to a certain IP address. So, what is an IP address? Think of the Internet as a catalog of phone numbers; each IP number is a website people can contact. Every website has its own unique IP number, but because long numbers are hard to remember, the domain name was born. Domain names are canonical names that people can use in place of a IP number. Each domain name is linked to a specific IP address, so that when people type in a URL, they are automatically directed toward a specific website. It is much easier to remember silverspoons123.com than it is to remember 123.342.153.894.
Branded or generic domain name for your website?
A branded domain name is one that reflects the unique name of the company. For example, Google.com. A generic domain name is one that reflects the product or service offered. For example, Searchengine.com. Branded and generic domain names each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Each company must look at its own situation before deciding what makes sense for them and their website. One benefit of a branded domain name is the familiarity that comes with the name. People know expedia.com, orbtiz.com and kayak.com; they do not know travelagent.com. Certain industries require building a brand because it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Generic names are good if they are very distinctive. A good generic website title is rainchains.com. Rain Chains is not a commonly used term (they are a replacement for downspouts) so it effectively becomes a branded domain name. In this case a generic domain name makes the company a leader in that field. Generic URLs are also good if a company is providing an addon (but distinct) service to an already established industry. Healthinsurance.com would be a great domain name for a company that helps people compare health plans from many different insurance providers. That company would not need to distinguish itself from other insurance providers because it offers a fundamentally different service.
Short or long domain name?
There is an ongoing debate about whether it is better to have a long or short domain name. One point of view is that shorter domain names are easier to remember and less susceptible to typos. Others argue that longer names are actually easier remember, because the consumer does not have to remember which of the abbreviated versions to use. There is no definitive answer. Short domain names are great if they have a clear meaning. Difficult acronyms should be avoided. One could argue that shorter domain names are easier to remember, easier to type and far less susceptible to mistakes.
Long URLs are susceptible to mistakes but they can also have much clearer meanings. FindGoodFoodInSoutheastAsia.com is easier to remember than FGFISA.com. Choose the shortest name possible that still has a clear meaning.
Fulfill expectations with a domain name. Domain names should have meaning close to what the website actually does. Nobody wants to go to modelcars.com to find a website about cupcakes.
Do not use hyphens in domain name. Hyphens make it hard to verbally communicate the domain name.
Do not use numbers in your domain name. People will not be sure if they should use the actual number or spell it out. Same applies for roman numerals. The potential for confusion makes the name harder to remember.
In short, the best domain names are those that are:
Easy to communicate in name and purpose
Hard to confuse with other names and sites
If you consider each of these dimensions carefully you will develop a domain name that will highlight your business purpose and enhance the way it is communicated to the consumer.