Choosing a domain name
Is your domain HEF?
Selecting a name for your new site is perhaps the most important thing you will ever do. Of course the content and design is important but if no one can remember your name all that time and effort will be wasted.
You'll find loads of sites on the net telling you the golden rules of domain name selection:
- No double letters
- Avoid hyphenation
- Short but sweet
- Easy to remember
And yet some people seem to be oblivious to perhaps the most important factor in chosing a name, "can I tell you the site name in a crowded bar or over the telephone."
I call this HEF, Human Ear Friendly.
I've seen a few domains over the years which are clever and ingenious uses of the myriad of TLDs but are they HEF.
Of these perhaps the most famous is http://del.icio.us/ and yet despite being a very popular site they too finally realised that no matter how clever the name was people just couldn't remember it and they switched to http://www.delicious.com.
So why did we switch to delicious.com? We’ve seen a zillion different confusions and misspellings of “del.icio.us” over the years (for example, “de.licio.us”, “del.icio.us.com”, and “del.licio.us”), so moving to delicious.com will make it easier for people to find the site and share it with their friends. http://blog.delicious.com/blog/2008/07/oh-happy-day.html
Just try to say those domains out aloud. As soon as you do the whole "cleverness" of the domain falls apart.
But it's not just "clever" use of the TLD that fails the HEF test.
If a domain name uses non-standard or non-intuitive spelling it will fail as well. Last year I built a new web site for young Jewish adults here in the UK, http://www.jeneration.org/. The domain name looks great on screen with the J used to emphasises that the site is for Jews but has the site been successful, has word of the site spread by word of mouth? I can hear the conversation in student bars across the UK right now.
"Have you seen Jeneration.org? That's generation but spelt with a J not a G."
I can't help but wonder how much more successful the site would be if it had a HEF domain name.