Is there anything to learn about how to name your web site from ... The name of your web site is ... to your success. In the physical world you can have a ... to re
Is there anything to learn about how to name your web site from www.websitesthatsuck.com?
The name of your web site is fundamental to your success. In the physical world you can have a difficult to remember name and overcome it with a great location, convenient parking, low prices, great quality or some combination of these. A hard to remember name may even be an advantage in some cases. A name like TCBY (which doesn't predict the service and is difficult to remember) doesn't hurt sales because yogurt is an impulse buy and success depends on foot traffic. But the Internet is different. It is better if people can remember your name!
What makes a great name? Opinions vary but here are some facts.
A great name is memorable. Perfectly memorable names include Amazon.com and Yahoo.com. Equally memorable names include www.pitneybowes.com (the people who make machines to put postage on letters), www.fedex.com, and www.realty1.com. Amazon and Yahoo are memorable because they aren't obvious while the others are memorable because they are obvious.
Some great names are acronyms. www.ibm.com and www.ups.com prove that acronyms work just fine. But some really terrible names are acronyms too. Other acronyms are misleading (who do you expect to be at the end of www.aa.com? Alcoholics Anonymous or American Airlines?). In my opinion, acronyms are best reserved for people who have a billion dollars to sink into advertising and branding. Otherwise, you risk getting lost in the acronym soup.
A great name for a web site is also recognizable from the real world. In the Internet bazaar I think people still like to do business with people they have heard of and know. For instance, who do you think is on the other end of www.margaritaville.com? And we know who is on the other end of www.whitehouse.gov.
Most great names are intuitively obvious. NFL (National Football League) www.nfl.com is perfectly obvious. So is MLB (Major League Baseball) www.mlb.com. www.microsoft.com is perfectly obvious as is www.accenture.com (Accenture Consulting). Much less obvious and really stupid are names like www.state.oh.us and www.tri-c.cc.oh.us (Tri C Community College). These names are dumb because many people cannot even remember the format of the URL.
What about .cc, .tv, or .info and similar names? How many .cc or .tv web sites have you been to? Probably very few. And I think that is the issue. Customers are conditioned to use .com but not .tv or .info. So you probably lose with a non-traditional name. I would avoid them unless there was something special I could work into the name - the equivalent of the Amazon or Yahoo approach to being memorable because they aren't obvious or expected.
Good names probably aren't cute. www.countonshell.com and www.iflyswa (South West Airlines) are probably a little to hard to get into a customer's brain because they are a little too cute. Remember, most people are only going to hear the name of your web site briefly, and only once or twice. Wouldn't they be easier to remember Southwest if they copied Continental (www.continental.com) or Delta (www.delta.com) and just used their own name? Names need to be straight forward and simple for customers to remember them.
Hyphenated names probably aren't as good as non-hyphenated names. For instance www.federated-fds.com (Federated Department Stores) would probably be stronger as just federated.com. And www.shop-4-savings.com is probably a harder to remember than shop4savings.com. The trend, if there is such a thing, is to use the whole name as one name.
Some really good names come from the retail sector. www.sears.com, www.jcpenny.com, www.maycompany.com really do protect and promote the brand and are perfectly obvious and intuitively easy to find. If you hear it once on a radio commercial, see it once on a business card, you will never forget it.
You can find out what names are available at several locations including http://webhosting.yahoo.com and http://www.internic.net/whois.html and of course where ever you wish to register your web site name.
Comments on this article? Wanna talk about golf? Can you get me on to Augusta National? Contact me!
Mr. Gilman is the President of Galileo Consulting and Marketing for Idiots. He brings over twenty years of diversified business experience to his businesses from government, private sector and international consulting.