December 05, 2007

Is there hope for the imperfect domain name

Continuing from this post, The web visitor is undergoing change in the way (s)he visits and revisits websites. The consumers on the web have taken to the various forms of bookmarking, rss feeds etc in such a huge way that the trend suggests that the domain name is being typed less often than before, and moving forward could reduce even more.

Take Netvibes for example, it adds to the options by allowing you to personalize the web. It is about having the web where you want it, the way you want it. It lets individuals assemble all in one place their favorite websites, blogs, email accounts, social networks, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, widgets, and everything else you enjoy on the Web.

Whats more, they allow you to rename feeds, which means you might just end up naming a blog/website in a manner that the creator did not intend.


So websites are being customized, does this mean that domain names will be customized?

Let me draw a parallel with telephone numbers. There was a time when landline numbers had to be written in a diary or etched in memory. There were no fancy mobile phones with unlimited storage memory.

You had to remember the phone number of a person if you had to chat with him/her. The phone number was the only way you could be reached. If you had an easy number, people could remember it and hence reach you when they needed you. Hence everyone wanted a number which went 12345678.

The website is similar to the telephone number. Most of the type in traffic needs to remember the portal name in its actual form, if they want to visit a website. The domain name is similar to the erstwhile telephone number. If you don't know it, you won't be able to reach the portal (the portal is similar to the person).

Now I store the number of people I would like to stay in touch with, in a format and name I choose. His phone number could be complicated but it does not affect me. I have names of companies stored in a way I can understand and access easily. The names are typically related to a benefit I associate with them. So I need a bill register for my startup cafe, I call the person "Bill register Andy" - His company is called Total Retail Solutions but I couldn't care less.

Websites are increasingly being stored in a customized manner using one of the many forms already described above. Going forward, is there a possibility that the importance of a domain name will be reduced to inducing the first few visits. Once the visitor is convinced of the websites utility, he might just choose to save it with a name he is comfortable with.

To give you an example, I visit
a page with a long and convoluted name (many /'s and .net attached to it) everyday at work to get past Websense, and I don't think it would have made a huge difference to my visiting pattern if it were called http://www.circumventor.com.

The site is just too useful, and I will visit it irrespective of what its called. All I do is type the first 2 letters and this is one of the first few sites suggested by my browser navigation bar. I have also saved it as a bookmark on my browser and on delicious as, yup you guessed right "Circumventor".

Now I am sure it would make life easier if its domain name were easy too, but the lack of it does not affect my visiting pattern as I have already custom saved it.

So How does this affect my site?

Coming back to what you should do to get your website up and running. The fundamental principles of marketing any other product or service are as important for a website. Awareness, Interest, Aiding the decision to try/buy, Product trial and Satisfaction are the mantras of any brand building exercise.

A good domain name will certainly ease traffic building, but with the web visitor becoming increasingly more powerful do not assume that your website will be remembered by the name rather than the benefit associated with your content.

Let ego stand aside for a moment, don't force your visitor to remember your website by its name. Let them customize it. Make it easy for the consumer to revisit your site by giving opportunities to bookmark your site, get RSS feeds and adopt other mechanisms in future which will enable the consumer to custom save and custom view your site.

Can there be more changes expected?

The future for browsers could well be to introduce a feature which allows you to custom save your website in the browser navigation bar. This will allow you to type "Innovative Marketing" and not my actual domain name to get on to my blog.

We might even have an online browser (like virtual desktops are in place), so that you can easily access your frequently used websites, from any location, with a name that you choose to associate with them and a navigation tool bar that allows you to brand the websites and not depend on their domain name.

Hence what your domain name is called can progressively become irrelevant to the all powerful web user. He might just choose to brand you more than you can brand yourself.

I have updated this post, thanks to the feedback that I have received (Thanks to everyone for stopping by). Your thoughts are invited...

2 comments:

Dave@tailgatingideas.com said...

Awesome and very insightful post. I recently started my website, www.tailgatingideas.com, back in August. Of course many of the domain names I wanted were either in use or someone had registered them and were cyber squatting. The way I found my domain was I used SEOBook.com to search on other key terms in conjunction with the word "tailgating". I found that many people were using the search terms "tailgating ideas" and that domain was available. So I registered it and now I am approaching my 100th post before the end of the year. SEOBook.com was the way i found my domain and is a powerful tool to find one that may be the right fit for your new website.

Ishwar said...

Thx Dave. I agree SEOBook is a great tool