The very first point of contact a visitor has with your website is your domain name. It will also appear on your business card, your letterhead, and form part of all your email addresses. This is why it is critical to choose a good one.
Here are my guidelines to choosing a successful domain name:
Keep it short.
Think of the most popular websites around today. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google…. They all have domain names that are two syllables long. Your domain name could be slightly longer, but bear in mind the longer it is, the less memorable it will be (and the chances of people making typos is increased!).
Make it Brand-Relevant
Resist the temptation to choose a cheesy keyword rich domain name. If you are looking for a business, say, a Portuguese restaurant, on Google, would you visit one with a domain name of besttastyportuguesefood.com or would you rather click on operiperi.com? Remember, clients will also be emailing you at this domain, so don’t make them type an essay in the address bar!
Avoid Hyphens and Numbers.
Choosing a hyphenated version of a domain name should definitely be avoided! Imagine your competitor has the non-hyphenated version. You just did them a huge favour by diverting everyone who forgets your hyphen straight to their site. Hyphens and numbers also take more effort to type, and will make your professional email address look more like a Hotmail address.
Stick to traditional spellings.
I had a mobile disco many years ago… The domain I registered for it was Funktionco.com. This was a good learning curve for me, as I had to explain to everyone who called me that the website was funktionco with a K… This makes it all that more tricky for a potential customer to visit the site. Nine times out of ten you’d want to stick to traditional (and correct!) spellings, unless your brand absolutely requires otherwise. A good question to ask yourself is: “how easy will it be to hear the domain name over the phone”.
.com or .co.za?
Ideally, both! If the .co.za version of your desired domain name is available, but the .com isn’t, you may want to reconsider and find an option where both are available. A lot of people who aren’t tech savvy automatically think a website ends in .com. Ideally you want to own both, and direct them both to your site.
Choosing a good domain name is a process that needs a fair deal of time and attention. Following these guidelines will give you a good framework on which to start brainstorming. In part 2 of this series we will be looking at establishing the goals and objectives for your website. In other words, what you would like your site to achieve for your brand or your business. If you have any questions or are looking to hire me for your next project please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form below. I’d love to hear from you!