Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What is a domain name 'win'?

Earlier this year we launched our website NamesThat.Win. We wanted to take the opportunity to discuss what the word 'win' means to us in the context of a domain name and website.

We suggest the following checklist when evaluating your website and its domain name.
  • The website should reflect positively on your organization. While content is clearly critical, as well as attention to detail, the impression starts with the name you adopt. Yes, the name can be catchy and even cute, but always in a tasteful way.
  • Honesty is critical. The name and website should reflect what you are about in a clear way. Never use a name to try to pretend your organization and goals are something that they are not. Many will disagree, but I say don't use an .org top level domain (TLD) if you are not an organization, and don't use .com if you are not a business. I wish there were controls so that someone could not use .science if they have nothing to do with science!
  • The website should be informative.  After I visit your website I should feel that my time was well spent in terms of efficient access to valid information. Even if your primary goal is to sell a product or service, your website should provide information to help a potential purchaser make an informed decision, as well as support documentation. 
  • Is the website sustainable? Is it designed so that you can reasonably do what is required to keep it current? Is the total cost sustainable in terms of the value that the website brings to your organization? If you go for a premium domain or an expensive .com, can that cost be justified?  Too many people rush into owning too much home for their means, and I find some companies do the same with respect to a domain name and website. Of course many do the opposite, and a year or two later purchase a higher quality domain name and need to rebrand to the new name.
  • The name should be location appropriate.  If you plan to only operate in a single country, with essentially no customers beyond the borders, it does make sense to use a country specific domain name. Research shows that these are more respected and trusted. However, if your vision extends beyond your home country, seriously consider starting with a global top level domain (gTLD), or possibly multiple domain extensions with a common first name. It will be interesting to see how the .gdn (which stands for global domain name) takes off as a general extension for those from all regions.
  • Almost all websites should feel current. While achieving this will depend partly on the  design, having current content is critical. Also, start with a domain name that suggests a modern site. Some domain names just feel ordinary and old. I realize adoption has been slow, but I think that the new global top level domain extensions (ngTLD) offer real opportunities. Make social media interact smoothly with your website. For example, it is easy to have your Twitter feed display on your website.
  • How memorable is you name, and in what other ways will you help people find you? A name that people can easily remember, and that is also descriptive, will go a long way in people remembering how to find you.  I think the ideal domain name is common, but not too common to lend an air of distinctiveness. If you do decide to go with a made up brandable name, you will need to figure in the costs of promoting that name.
  • Think about the goals for your website. Is it primarily to sell, interact with clients, provide support, contribute to public understanding, earn advertising revenue, or make your organization better known. Make sure your website structure, and the domain name, are both congruent with these goals. If you have two or more rather different goals, you might want to think about multiple domain names to keep the separation clear.
The last point is perhaps the most important. Before you consider available domain names and how much you are willing to pay, or how you will design and host your website, start with the goals you have for your online presence.  Make a written list, and get the opinion of others, revising as appropriate. 

So why did we select  our domain name We believe in the long term value of the ngTLDs, so wanted to model one ourselves. Also, we see value in using a domain name expression as our name, and wanted to model that.  As a small operation, but with potential customers from around the world, we wanted a global TLD. Considering sustainability, the domain name was reasonable to purchase and to renew (we have it registered for 10 years so our domain costs are completely known for a long time). We feel that your consideration of names ideally starts before you have registered a company name or domain name, so we wanted the word 'name' not 'domain' in our website. 

We realize that at first glance .win is an unusual choice.  The intention of those who set up the .win registry was that it would mainly support activities such as online gaming. However, as explained above, win is used in everyday language in a much more general sense.  A win is something that meets or exceeds your stated goals, and it is in that sense that we selected it for our website. 
Ultimately our goal is to help you clarify your goals, to set criteria for evaluating success, and to help you 'win' by achieving success in those goals. We hope that you will continue to visit this blog, access our website regularly, and follow us on Twitter @AGreatDomain.

But enough about us.  As the first step to your online 'win', elaborate on your online goals.  Only with goals clearly in mind will you be able to plan a successful route forward, and evaluate how successful you have been with your online presence.


  1. Update: the first three of the services are now operational, as we have published our first white paper (an analysis of the demand globally for domain names).

  2. We updated this post again, making it a bit more concise and goal oriented. Thanks for reading.

  3. And another minor update, adding one more point but making the overall post a little more concise. Thanks for reading!


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