People are often very simple creatures – they struggle to remember things that may be a little confusing or contain ambiguity. This is why it is essential that before you even start your community site, you spend a good amount of time choosing a suitable domain name.
Keep it simple
Always keep your domain name as simple and as short as possible. The longer your domain name, the larger the chance of a visitor entering a typo and not being able to find your site. Longer domain names are often more difficult to remember, too.
Use simple words in your domain name – don’t go using long, hard to understand words. People should be able to remember your domain name easily and be able to type it into their browser quickly and without error.
Keep it relevant
Always ensure your domain name is relevant to your community. I would always recommend you try to include a keyword in your chosen domain name. If your site is about goldfish, get that keyword in your domain name.
Irrelevant domain names can sometimes work thanks to strong branding techniques. When starting a community from scratch though, why make things harder for yourself?
Keep your domain relevant – people should be able to guess what your site will be about from the domain name alone.
Keep it memorable
Keeping a domain name simple and relevant will help visitors remember it. Visitor retention is the key to a successful online community.
You should also consider what ‘Top-Level Domain‘ to register. If your site has a strong UK focus, then you should register the ‘.co.uk’ version, but perhaps also register the ‘.com’ and redirect it to your site in order to secure your brand name.
If you are aiming for direct type-in traffic, then you will want to go for the ‘.com’ wherever possible. I will always argue that your choice of top-level domain has little overall significance compared to the overall domain name you choose, though.
A poor choice in domain name can result in failure
A few years ago, when I was working in the travel insurance industry, our company wanted to set up a website for online travel insurance sales. They asked staff for suggested domain names.
You want to know what they went with in the end?
What an absolutely awful choice – unfortunately they refused to listen to my concerns, which included the fact that ‘tortoise’ is a relatively difficult word to spell correctly, and the fact they have shared the letter ‘e’ between tortoise and express. The domain name is also overly long and is an open invite for typos.
Just imagine trying to verbally explain this domain name to someone:
“Our website address is ‘Tortoise Express dot com’ but you only use the one ‘E’ between tortoise and express. Right, yes… here, let me spell it for you ‘t-o-r-t-o-i-s-e-x-p-r-e-s-s’… yes, that’s right. Did you get that spelt correctly? Only the one ‘E’, remember…”
And so on, and so on. Needless to say the domain name didn’t work and the website failed.
Keep your domain name short, relevant and easy to remember and you already have a head-start over many of the new sites starting up today.