How to Choose a Great
Domain Name You Won't Regret

As a website designer, I know firsthand the pain of picking the wrong domain name.

It can be the worse feeling when you realize you bought a domain name that's hard to communicate, too long, or not memorable.

So I want to pass along some of my tips to help you avoid buyer's remorse.

So, how can you choose a great domain name and avoid picking a bad one?

Before you buy a new domain name, use the checklist below to gauge your decision.

[Checklist] How To Choose A Great Domain Name 

 Make It Easy To Say and Convey

After you create your website, you are bound to eventually say these words, "Go to my website at..."

When you communicate the name of your website, the other person should be able to understand you and then find your site... without hassle.

You should not have to repeat yourself, or clarify the spelling of words

Here are some specific examples of name elements that may cause your customer to go to the wrong website.

Avoid Using Domain Names With:

  • Single letters
    Some letters in the alphabet that can sound like other ones when they are pronounced, especially over the phone - like the letters D and B.

    You might find yourself always having to say "B as in boy" every time you say your domain name.

  • Homonyms
    There are words that can sound like another word but are spelled differently and have a different meaning.

  • Numbers
    Numbers can become a cause for confusion because you usually have to specify whether it's spelled out, or written numerically. 

    The numbers 2 and 4 are especially confusing in a domain name because they have homonyms like too, two, four, and for.

    Wouldn't you agree that's a cause for confusion? It's best to just leave numbers out.

All the above factors could cause a potential customer to go to the wrong site or never find you.

So, before you buy a domain name try saying it to a friend and see if your domain name is quickly understood.

 Keep It Short and Memorable

Making your domain name short and memorable will help customers be able to find your website easier.

Just think about some of the most popular websites... Yahoo, Google, Twitter, Facebook... what do they have in common?

All their names are about 10 or less letters, and easy to remember.

Write and Type It - The person your are speaking to should be able to jot down your web address without having to second guess if they took it down right.

Or, on the other hand when you have your website listed on a business card or flyer, it's easily written.

Benefits of having a short domain name:

  • It takes less time for a visitor to type it out.
  • When your create a business email account (i.e. with your domain name, it won't take long for a person to type it out and message you.

Ways to make your domain name memorable:

  • Make it the exact same name as your business - that way if the person remembers your business name, they will remember your domain name. They won't have to remember two names.
  • Give it a unique name - like in the case of Yahoo or Facebook

☑ Use a Common Domain Name Extension

By all means, try to purchase a .com domain name extension.

It's still the most commonly known extension to use. The typical web user assumes that .com the extension to type in when generally trying locating a website.

If you have exhausted your .com options, then try another appropriate extension.

These are some traditional domain name extensions to consider:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .biz
  • .org (only if you are truly an organization or nonprofits)

If you have researched TLDs, you may have learned that there are new ones like:

  • .shop
  • .online
  • .blog
  • .web

Studies have shown that if your target market is a younger crowd they are likely to trust a new TLD just as equally as a traditional TLD like .com.

But if your target market is an older generation, it would be best to stick with .com as your domain name extension.

☑ Don't Infringe On Another Brand or Trademark

It's highly recommended to pick a unique domain name that's not a spin on another brand's name.

Do not choose a domain name that encroaches on another brand's name or trademark. If a name is trademarked by another company, they have the rights to take back the domain name from you, even if you registered it.

It's best to pick a domain name for yourself that is original.

Test Out Your Domain Name

Once you've brainstormed ideas for your domain name, check it against the list above. 

Next, bounce your ideas off a few friends. Say your domain names to them. Have them write it down and type it. Ask them to compare your domain name choices to the checklist above to see if there's something you may have missed.

Does it pass the test?

By taking a moment to pause and reflect on this list you will likely, choose a great domain name!

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