As promised. Part 1. Domain naming.
I’m here. Here to hold your hand and walk you through the basics of building your own website. Strap yourselves in for another one of my, er, ‘uniquely interesting’ guides.
Note. This is a complete beginners guide. Do not expect any fancy computer programming terms. I don’t know any.
If you are a digital nomad, or are planning on becoming one, it’s probably a pretty solid idea for you to have your own website. It’s a great way to advertise yourself, it looks pretty cool and, if nothing else, you can get drunk and write whatever you want on it with (almost) no repercussions! What other motivations could you need? So, based on those pretty solid reasons, let’s have a look at website building.
I was originally going to cram everything into one article but then I started looking into it a bit, and cripes, there is actually quite a lot to know. So I decided to break it down and make this a series of articles instead, and, where better to start than the beginning?
No domain (name), no gain.
Right, welcome, hello. One of the first, and most important, things you need to do when you make a website is to choose a domain name. You might think this is a straightforward and easy decision. It’s not. You need to put quite a lot of thought into your domain name if you want to give yourself the best chance of success. Below you will find several of the key steps, in no particular order, you really should be thinking about when deciding on your domain name.
Keep it simple, stupid. No-one wants to have to remember an incredibly long, convoluted website address. Try to keep it short, number free, and, if possible, written with proper words. Nix slang. No Z’s instead of S’s. Zip amount of U’s instead of ‘you’. It doesn’t look good, it isn’t clever and people will despise you for it. E.g.
Mowglismagicmaths.com = good.
Mowglizmagicalmaths123-2018edition.com = horrendous.
Be vigilant. Avoid #susanalbumparty
Kind of speaks for itself that one. Check, double check and triple check what you’ve written. Avoid the (hilarious) mistake of others.
Pronunciation is not bad. Real words are good
I can’t stress highly enough how important it is to use real words. If you have a website called ‘I-1nt-hugz.com’ (read ‘i-want-hugs.com’) no-one, literally no one, will know how to spell that, or even say it, without you explaining it many, many times. There is no need to try and be clever or show off. Just be normal. In this instance, it’s for the best.
For all other aspects of your life, be different. It’s more fun.
Your keyword is a keyword
Your domain name should, if it can, contain a keyword relevant to your website. If you are an accountant, try throwing the word ‘accountant’ in there. A good domain name should give your target audience an immediate idea of what it is you do.
Brainstorm/Mind Map (that’s a bit more pc)
Write down the words that best describe your website and mix them around. Go all ‘Mad Men’ on it with some cigarettes and whiskey if it helps. Don’t stop until you have at least 5 suitable names for your site. Spend a while on this and hopefully, you’ll come up with an original, memorable and f’kin genius domain name for your website.
Branding isn’t just for cowboys
Think about your brand when you are coming up with your domain name. Good brands stand out from the crowd, are memorable and can often pull in heavy traffic. If you are struggling to come up with a solid domain name, you might want to consider using a domain name generator. You can find a list of free domain name generators here.
Take your branding a little bit further
You might want to consider buying up any domains that are common misspellings of yours. It’s going to cost you more money for sure but it might avoid any lost traffic coming from people that don’t type all that well. Also, search the social media sites to see what you can do on them with your brand name. They might be taken up and might give you cause for a rethink.
.com is still king
Think of a website, it probably ends with .com. It’s what people know and love. Why try and confuse the masses? You’ll be fighting a losing battle and it’s not worth the bother unless you are particularly obstinate. Like the bird. Of course, as .com is so popular, you may struggle to get the name you want. If you do find yourself stuck, and are unwilling to change, focus on the up and comers. Have a look and see if any of the new GTLD’s suit your needs. You can find them here.
If you must write prose/poems. The words you use should be your own. Don’t plagiarise or take “on loan”. (Cemetry Gates. The Smiths)
Research your domain. Make sure it is not already in action elsewhere. This could lead you down an incredibly expensive and tedious copyright road of despair. Search for your name of choice online, if it’s there, go back to the drawing board.
Trends come and trends go. Don’t get carried away
Remember POGS? Loom bands? Fidget spinners? erm… Other passing fads that lasted for a bit and then were promptly consigned to the dustbin of time. Nope, didn’t think so. Don’t fall into the trend trap. Choose a name that will last through the generations. Ideally, your domain name will be your brand name. If you choose a name that goes out of fashion and you change it, kiss goodbye to all the hours and money you spent building up your brand.
Use a time machine
You can use websites like Wayback Machine to find out what domain names were showing what, way back when we were all younger. To be honest, even if you don’t use it in a way connected to choosing a domain name, it’s quite good fun.
If you’ve got friends, use them
If you are lucky enough to be blessed with people that love/like/tolerate your presence, don’t be afraid to throw your ideas at them and see if they stick. Hopefully, they will be honest with you and find a way to tell you that your idea is an absolute abomination without making you cry. If you don’t have friends, you can send them to me or, you can pay for internet friends on any one of the various micro-task websites out there. I’ll do it for free mind, and, I won’t insist on you being my friend! It might be nice though?
Domain names move quickly in this world. When you’ve found the name of your dreams you’ll need to be prepared to move quickly. One errant click and it might be gone forever. Also, that italic font ‘Faster’ will take you to an absolutely storming Manic Street Preachers song called, obviously, faster.
Do everything that I didn’t do when I went for www.twig-boy.com. It is not brandable, it doesn’t tell you what the website is, it has a hyphen in it and I didn’t ask anyone about it. I fundamentally failed when choosing my domain name. I still like it though. You might as well.
Coming soon. Part 2. Hosting, the why, the who, what, when, the where and the how.
(Eminem line I’ve used there. The Way I Am. Safe for work version.)