Beginner’s guide & cheat sheet to choosing a domain name

by | Jul 27, 2018 | Tips for graphic designers, Web Design

A domain name is a lifeline to your business and a fundamental part of your online profile. Rushing in and picking any old domain won’t do your business any favours. Taking the time to ensure your domain name fits your business to a tee and engages with your audience is the key to choosing the perfect domain name.

So, how does one choose the perfect domain name I hear you ask? There are a lot of things to consider and chances are finding a domain that ticks all the boxes will be impossible, or at least very expensive. With this in mind, I suggest trying to find a domain name that ticks most of the boxes… That is, fits most of my recommendations below.

So let’s dive in. Below I’ve pulled together little nuggets of domain name gold to create a dummies guide for choosing the best available domain name for your brand.

1. Choose .com or a country-specific domain

A top-level domain (TLD) is the last part of a domain name — they are the letters directly after the dot in the Internet address. Most often, it’s best to go with the most recognised TLD in the world… “.com”. Even if you don’t use it, it’s handy to buy it to ensure a competitor doesn’t.

However, as the Internet is becoming bigger and bigger many people are finding the .com isn’t available for their desired domain name. If that’s the case for your business, there are plenty of other great options such as .net and .co that will shout your message loud and clear to your target audience online.

Location specific TLDs are great for local business only targeting a specific country: i.e. .com.au, .net.au, .co.nz, .co.uk. These show that your business is local and can also assist with your Google rankings in those specific countries.

If your business is a bit edgy and you’d like something unique then you can consider some of the newer TLDs like .space, .design, .io, .life, etc.

You can view a full list of the TLDs available separated into categories here.

2. Make your domain short and sweet

Ain’t nobody got time for a super long domain!

Long domains are more difficult to spell and easily forgettable. Make your domain name short, sweet and memorable. Single-word domain names are gold, but they can be hard to find. If you see one suitable to your biz snap it up quick-smart! Otherwise, aim to choose 2 or 3 words that best describe your business or brand message. Keeping your name short will help customers remember your domain name and smartphone users to search your name while they’re out and about.

3. Say no to (some) abbreviations in your domain

Anyone choosing to use abbreviations like 4U, 2U or gr8 in their domain name is setting themselves up for failure. These cutesy ways of abbreviating words don’t help potential customers remember your domain name and if they’re heard and not read the listener could be really confused about how to spell the domain. So do yourself a favour and avoid using abbreviations or unusual spellings of words that customers or potential leads could easily misspell.

I’m hesitant to say all abbreviations are bad. In some cases they might be necessary. For example, I recently had a client who’s business name is Brisbane Height Safety Certifications. The logical domain name for this business would have been brisbaneheightsafetycertifications.com.au, but man that’s a mouthful! As bhsc.com.au was already taken we decided on bhscertifications.com.au for their domain name. It’s not ideal, however, this made it a lot easier to say over the phone or on radio ads, etc. It also made it significantly shorter in length meaning less possibility of being misspelt as well as easier to fit on flyers, business cards, etc.

4. Sound like a brand

Your goal is for potential customers to look at your domain name and understand what your business is offering or what your website will be about. Consider the domain name as a label for your brand and ensure you’re stepping out with a professional digital footprint. If your brand name is appropriate and available then go with that. If not, use another word combination that reflects and compliments your brand and offering.

5. Make it memorable

A good domain name has to be easy for a customer to recall. Domain names that are easy to remember are usually short, represent the brand, and avoid hyphens, numbers or words that are easily misspelled.

 

6. Avoid awkward domain strings

When you are choosing your domain name ensure the words look legible together and are not embarrassing to your business. The last thing you want is an embarrassing domain name like Pen Island: “www.penisland.net” (*giggles*) or Speed of Art – “www.speedofart.com”. Before you register your domain name make sure that you review your final selection and make sure it’s legible and not embarrassing!

 

7. Do you like saying it?

Your domain is something you’ll probably say out loud as much as your business name, so it’s important that you like it. Say it out loud 5 times. Do you like the sound of it? Is it easy for you to say? Does it sound punchy?

 

8. Ask your friends

The domain you’ve chosen might sound great to you, but hey… the guys at Pen Island probably thought the same thing. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so before buying your domain name I recommend running it past some friends or colleagues. Here are some questions to ask them:

1. Say your chosen domain/s to them out loud and ask them to write it down. Can they spell it correctly and easily?

2. Does the domain spell anything strange? i.e. therapist.com

3. Is it easy to remember?

 

The Wrap Up

These are the key things I consider when choosing a domain for myself or my clients:

1. Choose .com or a country-specific domain extension
2. Make your domain short and sweet and ensure it isn’t easily misspelt
3. Say no to cutesy abbreviations in your domain
4. Ensure it sounds like and represents your brand and isn’t misleading
5. Make it memorable
6. Avoid awkward domain strings
7. Do you like saying it?
8. How do you friends respond to it?

Search for the perfect domain name for your business here.

I really hope you’ve found this short guide useful. If you have any questions, comments, or just wanna say ‘hey’, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

About the author
Hola! I'm Emma. I’m a graphic designer turned web designer on a mission to teach others how to build beautiful & professional websites with WordPress. Through mentoring and my eCourse I teach other graphic designers and entrepreneurs how to build their own websites using my 9-step process. In my spare time I love writing about my freelance life, creating pretty things and hanging out with my fur-baby.

Say Hola!

Don’t be shy. Want to say hi and have a chat? Get in touch and let's start the convo about your exciting new project.

Drop us a line

Don’t be a stranger, send me an email via the Interwebs to have a yarn about your upcoming design or website project.

SHOOT ME AN EMAIL

Get started

So you've website stalked me and like what you see? Shucks! I'd love to hear more about your project and how I could help.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

Support

Is your website misbehaving? I can provide comprehensive support to get you up and running in no time.

SUBMIT SUPPORT REQUEST