The Internet is an endless spring of community, entertainment, commerce and information. Unlike traditional mediums (print, TV, radio, brick and mortar businesses), the web promotes interaction by enabling everyone with a computer and a connection to cautiously dip their toes or cannonball full force into the world's biggest pool party. Encouraging that do-it-yourself spirit in each of us are an endless line of designers, programmers and hosts who are anxious to assist even the most technically timid to sprout wings with their own site. However, you'll never make it out of the nest if you do not have the perfect domain name for your site. And then, the search begins.
Instead of wasting time by throwing darts at names on a wall, it's best to maintain focus and recognize a few domain naming parameters. First off, it's paramount that the domain name does not confuse potential visitors. Scrive for a site name that sounds exactly like it's spelled so you do not need a search engine to find it. A quick trip to Alexa's Top 100 US sites shows there are a few exceptions to this rule. With most basic words already spoken for, be prepared to get creative, mixing words together or coming up with an appropriate onomatopoeia.
While it's a good idea for a domain name to describe the site, it's equally important to come up with an original name that is catchy enough to be passed along at the water cooler. Look no further than domain names Yahoo or Google. While these names really do not reveal much about two of the web's most visited sites, they're easy to recall and short on syllables, making it simple for first-timers to find.
If you're after serious traffic, commit to securing a .com name. It only takes a quick trip to Alexa to discourage any thoughts of settling for less popular .org, .net or .info. Of the Top 100 traffic-ranked sites in the United States, only 10 ended with something other than .com. At the end of the day, why excuse with 90% of the country's most-visited sites.
Now that you're armed with these factors, head over to your favorite domain name registrar. Do not get too discouraged when you discover the fabulous names you've painstakingly researched are already spoken for. This is your opportunity to recruit family and friends to get involved by emailing them your naming guidelines. Do not be surprised if someone who is not invested in the project suggests the perfect, available name.
The company I work for recently survived the re-naming process and we still have the bruises to show for it. Originally named RadioFire.net, we're a social music site that allows people to discover unsigned artists in their own communities and across the country. With a complete redesign underway to amplify a more community-oriented experience, our design firm said the .net name had to go. The .com version of our domain name was not available, so we followed the steps above. After much brainstorming and research, we feel we've hit a home run that will elevate our site's experience. The winning domain name: Echoboost.com. We feel the name conveys the positive experience bands and music fans alike can expect from our site while remaining easy to remember and spell.
Now it's your turn, so dive into your own website with a great domain name.