Domain Names

How Do I Name My Website?

This is a modified version of a conversation I had with a great person on Reddit.com. It should sum up a great deal about how to pick a name.

Original Message (identifying information changed)

Hey there,

My name’s Jimmy, and I am a recent marketing graduate from SIU who is looking to launch his own online company.

I saw two separate posts by you mentioning you were great at brainstorming ideas and that you had a few domains available. My company would be focusing on providing web design and development, social media content, web content, SEO & SEM, and even web hosting. Do you think you would be able to help me brainstorm a name? That is currently what’s holding me back from launching now, and while it may seem silly, I think the name of the company is HUGE to attract and keep customers, never mind the added benefit of word of mouth. I have been anxious to launch but do not want to invest in a branding effort or domain if I’m going to switch it up again when I am unhappy one month down the line.

Response:

You are full of good points. I would like to say however that doing that much all at once starting off is a terrible idea. Without a focused scope, you are bound to fail. I myself have the inclination to solve the worlds problems but it is difficult to do that without solving at least one problem first. Solve one problem, then another, don’t attempt to solve them all at once. It will end up a bad time.

Now here are some tips to naming things

  • It must be easy to remember. Don’t pull a xkcd.com on people. It sucks. No matter how hard they try to remember it just takes forever to grasp it. Make it easy. We all have a lot going on and to remember.
  • Pick something that isn’t too bland. If you pick something that is very neutral you will fail.
  • Don’t ever use dashes or periods or any other symbology in the name. You will end up helping someone elses website on accident. I don’t care if it is a super sweet name. It ends up badly. I have had it happen a couple times. Save yourself that particular headache.
  • Make sure it is a .com because unless you are already a world leader in something, you will end up helping direct people to the .com version of your websites domain. Even though I bought an .org, I still accidentally typed in .com often. It just is encoded into us. We can’t help but being foolish by habit.
  • If you have an awesome name, you can usually prefix it or end it with something if the un-prefixed or un-suffixed version of it is taken. For instance, I like to add “TheGreat” to the beginning of my domain names because it brings up pre-encoded feelings and it is super memorable. For instance: ContentWeavers.com vs TheGreatContentWeavers

So clear up the scope of your project and then we can chat about what you want to do. You will have a difficult time naming something that is already too broad. You can’t name something that covers so many things. Well not easily at least. You can always add features later but they will be secondary. The best trick to pull is to create a great site and business then later on create a sister website that is of a different domain name but also does cool shit. Good case example is that of Envato. They have; Themeforest.net, CodeCanyon.net, PhotoDune.net, and a few others. They all do similar things and are all awesome but they are sister sites. They don’t reside under the same domain because how the hell would you name that bunch of things anywhere near good?

Still Can’t Think of a Name?

There are various services out there that can help you think of a name. You can either use a dynamic service or a service that actually uses real people to help you make a name.

How to Check if a Domain is Taken
You could try using a domain buying website. Many people end up hearing about WhoIs and accidentally end up on http://www.whois.com, http://whois.net, or another similar website. Don’t use them. Use the one that actually is connected into the main domain system. ICANN runs the main system.
Why not use those sites? Well a lot of times they can report back information. A domain can be free while their reports state that the domain is not. Check domain names using http://www.internic.net/whois.html
Buying a Domain Name
You really don’t want to buy a taken domain name. Just name your product something else. For instance I wanted to have a social website called socialplex but the .com was taken so I tried a .org but that was just dumb so I settled on buddyplex.com and it was just as good. It takes time thinking of a name and I know it can be frustrating but buying a domain name just isn’t going to be a good way to go. If you still want to, there are tons of resources on the internet about it.
If you still want the name then you will run into a lot of problems. You do not have any rock solid legal way of making a squatter give up their domain name. The only legal time that it happens is if you had a company trademarked before the site began. At that point they have to at least attempt to force you to give up the domain name.The only action you can take is to buy it from them or buy a different name.
Nolo, a large group that deals with legal issues talks about it here: Cybersquatting: What It Is and What Can Be Done About It
If you are still wanting to buy the name then there are some tactics to do negotiations. I could go on about it but I think these articles have a pretty good handle on it:
Google Search Results for: “buying a taken domain name

Where Do I Buy a Domain Name?

Many professionals are very happy with Namecheap and say that their customer support is excellent and that they are professional and sell domain names for a low cost.

You can buy through a domain purchasing site such as Namecheap or you can buy it through your hosting provider. Some hosting providers like to keep domain names hostage. Sure you can force them to release the domain name by harassing them or getting a lawyer or by reporting the issue to ICANN. A good hosting solution that will not hold your domain hostage is Bluehost.

If you buy through a domain purchasing site such as Namecheap you can just point the domain name to hosting solutions name server or do a registrar transfer to the hosting solution you have chosen. Bluehost had this to say about it when related to their hosting solution:

Registrar Transfers are FREE. Your domain must already be registered with another Registrar in order to begin. Bluehost does not charge any extra fees when transferring your domain to us from your old host. However, ICANN requires a one year extension to your domain when it is transferred to a new host. With this extension/renewal of your domain we charge the typical renewal fee. The time from now until your current expiration date will be transferred for FREE so you will not lose anything you’ve already paid for.

So if you plan to get a good hosting solution that won’t hold your domain name hostage then go ahead and just buy it through the hosting solution. Sometimes people just want to get the domain name while they research hosting providers and that is plenty OK. Make sure to Google search your hosting solutions name plus the words “domain hostage” and you should be able to find out. For instance let’s see if GoDaddy has issues with holding domain names hostage by searching Google for “GoDaddy domain hostage”.

Some other links illustrating why I do not advocate the use of GoDaddy to anyone: Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

What is a Sub-Domain?

A sub-domain is a setup where under the same domain name you are able to install a new website. This can be good for many reasons. Let’s say your main website uses WordPress as the main portion of the website. Your sub-domain could be designated for the forums. So for instance let’s say that we here at www.TheGreatStartupWiki.com wanted a sub-domain named “forums”. Then that forum installation would be at www.forums.TheGreatStartupWiki.com

The sub-domain is put in front of the main domain name. Many hosting solutions make you pay for this while some do not. Bluehost is excellent because they offer free sud-domains and many other features for free that with other hosting solutions you would have to pay a premium price to get.

Domains generally do not cost a lot so if you have to separate website ideas, don’t sub-domain it, just make a new website. For instance, don’t have a sister site installed under the main domain. Just link them a different way. Only use a sub-domain if the items are so close that you don’t want them as separate website addresses.

Bad Domain Name Information?

Domain name registration has to be done in a specific way. Make sure to keep your information up to date. If someone isn’t doing this, report the domain to ICANN.

Keep Your Privacy

You don’t want people emailing you and you don’t want them calling you. Sign up for domain privacy when you buy a domain name. You will really want this. It hides your information behind a giant company who is never going to answer that phone and give away your information. Trust me. I scout people by looking up their info using the WhoIs tool for domain buying reasons.

About ICANN

ICANN is the organization the deals with all the internet protocols and domain names. Use their website for some pretty cool stuff. Have fun: http://www.icann.org/en/about

Other

If you really want to see a lot of information you need to check out a website pretty much dedicated to the craft. IGoldRush

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