Web Design 101: Domain Name

How many websites do you visit every week? Or—if you’re an internet addict like yours truly—every day?

You may think you know a lot about websites and maybe you are pretty good at distinguishing a well-designed site from a fly-by-night operation. But how much do you really know about the decisions that went into creating those websites? How did they choose their colors and font? How did they decide what types of pages to include? What kind of coffee did they drink while programming?

Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret: Those decisions are not accidents; they’re not random; and home-roasted Kenyan.

Part 5 of 5: The final installment of our “Web Design 101” series covers something many designers and business owners don’t put much thought into, but they should.

Domain names (sometimes called website addresses or  URLs) are basically the string of letters, numbers, or symbols that you type into your internet browser to take you to a certain site. Some domain names are more straightforward (Google.com, Target.com, Wikipedia.com) and probably didn’t involve (or need) a lot of thought or discussion to create. But it’s always worth a second thought when selecting your own domain name.

Just what exactly is there to think about when it comes to domain names? More than you think.


Can People Remember It?

Like your home address, your web address is how visitors reach your site (the only difference is that you actually want unexpected visitors to visit your website), so you want to make your domain name easy to understand and to remember.

When selecting your domain name, imagine a scenario where someone is hearing your website name over the phone. Consider the difference in understanding (and therefore remembering) the following two domain names:

“The website is ‘off dash the dash chain underscore cupcakes dot com’.”


“The website is ‘worldsbestcupcakes.com’.”

If your web address will have (or at least include) the company name, that makes it easier to narrow down your selections. But if you’re considering shortening a long domain name with acronyms, numbers, or those little dashes, maybe try to come up with a better alternative.


Should You Have Some Fun With It?

Many websites go for the straightforward “[businessname].com” format. And there’s nothing wrong with that (it’s even preferable for businesses that want to convey a certain formality or that already have a distinct and memorable brand), but maybe you want to throw a bit more whimsy at it.

Yeah, okay, we’re a little biased.

You may have already noticed that our own domain name isn’t “ClarityCreativeGroup.com” but “IWantClarity.com”. We feel that this is not only easy to remember (and say), but answers an unasked question.

Since we consider ourselves first and foremost as problem solvers—not just web designers—we phrased our domain name in the form of a plea (“Help! I want clarity for my business!”) so you’re prepared for what we offer. We found a UK-based SEO specialist that uses “HowToBeFound.co.uk” as their domain name. Same idea.


Will it (Unintentionally) Offend?

There’s no harm in creating a whimsical domain name, as long as you remember that websites don’t usually have spaces (unless you use dashes or underscores).

Take a look at how your web address looks all squished together and see if it makes an unintentional joke. These are just some of the unfortunate (and real!) examples we found:

  • Choose Spain – www.choosespain.com
  • Who Represents – www.whorepresents.com
  • Experts Exchange – www.expertsexchange.com
  • Go Tahoe – www.gotahoe.com

Unless your business specializes in making people uncomfortable, make sure you pick a more innocent domain name (one you wouldn’t be ashamed to tell your mother about).


Is It Available?

Alas, this is the curse of domain names! You’ve thought for weeks about your address, carefully selecting the perfect words in the perfect order…only to find that it’s already been taken.

Unlike with your first e-mail address, this isn’t a time when you can just stick “153” on the end of it and call it a day. This is why it’s a good idea to come up with several possible domain names so you’ll have something to fall back on.

And there you have it! The top five things that we consider when building a website. Have we left anything out? Let us know in the comments below. We love to create dialogue about helping grow businesses and we would love to know what you think.


Other articles in this series:
Web Design 101: The Building Blocks
Web Design 101: Layout
Web Design 101: Design
Web Design 101: Content & Language

Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We can be found at www.IWantClarity.com, which is a super snazzy website (if we say so ourselves).



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