on Jan 20th, 2012How to pick a domain name for your next web product – Tips
Picking an effective domain name for your web product/service/company is currently at the top of on my list of the hardest things to do for a web startup. For a web startup, domain names can make or break a business. You don’t want a name like expertsexchange (figure this out). Here is a simple checklist for picking a good name:
- Sit with 3 people at least, preferably from different backgrounds. They will tell you what a shortlisted name signifies to them. FlagTrue, the proposed name of my company was picked by a biased set of computer science students, but we did it specifically to appeal to the computer science audience. I had a hard time explaining it to my mom.
- Use a bulk name checker instead of trying a single one each time. It can get annoying and demotivating trying out individual names. GoDaddy has a bulk search option. Works well but it doesn’t store stuff well, make sure you have a backup.
- Every domain name you can think of will be taken. Domain squatters are the plague of this earth, but don’t fret. Try combination of words or clever plays on words.
- A good domain name is one which is short (preferably under 10 characters), sticky (meaning people will not easily forget it), unique in the line of business and something that conveys what the product is about. Keep a score board of all these attributes for each domain name you pick.
- Do not use numbers or short forms. People won’t know whether the number is written as numerals or characters. For ex: If I say level3.com on the phone, the other person might think it is levelthree.com. If you are going with the name level3 then ensure you buy levelthree also and redirect it back to the original name.
- Same goes for names in languages other than english. When we picked the name Samparkh, we aded the trailing ‘H’ but a lot were expecting the domain to just be Sampark. These minor cultural differences can send traffic to a totally different website. A classic example of this is to spell “Agarwal”.
- Check if there are any premium names that squatters are selling for a good deal. It might be worth investing in a good domain name if it can mean better reach. Also, it’s better if you can negotiate something before your product/service/company launches and makes some noise.
- Try to get a .COM as most people and browsers default to it. This is not a deterrent thought; Del.icio.us with its quirky and confusing name was still a hit.
- Once you decide on a name, disable auto transfer and buy it for 2 to 3 years. Most popular domain provider’s mails are borderline spam and you might miss important renewal mails. It is always good to add a reminder on your calendar about 10 days before the domain expires.
These are just suggestions. This template is what has helped me and many others pick a good name for their web business. Best of luck!