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Pick a domain that’s easy to say
not one you have to spell out

photo of 2 people looking at something on a phone and smiling

A tip for anyone who’s thinking of creating any kind of web project: if you intend to register a domain name to go with it, pick one that’s easy to say out loud.

The easy way to do that is to pretend that you’re two years into the future, and that your web project has been a huge success and now you’re being interviewed about the whole thing on a radio programme.

There you are in a cosy soundproofed room, with John Humphrys or Mishal Husain asking you difficult questions for a few minutes. At the end of the interview, because they like you and because you’ve been an entertaining and informative guest who’s answered every question briefly enough that the interview hasn’t gone over time, they say to you: “And if listeners want to find out more, where should they go?”

Your ideal answer should be: “Easy, just go to myprojectname dot com.”

If the domain you’ve chosen isn’t really easy to say in this imaginary radio interview, try and find an alternative one that is.

This isn’t because I expect everyone to be on the Today Programme, but because it has always surprised me how often people share interesting web projects by word of mouth. It happens all the time.

Someone mentioned one just the other day, at the Public Service Camp meetup in Bristol organised by Matt Jukes. I reached for my phone, saying: “Hang on, let me look at that now, otherwise I’ll forget.” I opened a browser, and typed in the domain I’d heard.

I think that happens a lot, and not just to me. People talk about the internet even when they’re not actually using the internet. In pubs, at meetups and conferences, in meetings, over coffee, on trains and buses. People say: “I saw this cool/interesting/funny/useful thing on the internet, you might like it too.”

If news about your web project is likely to spread by word of mouth, make it easier for people to say out loud, and for listeners to understand it first time.

(3 Mar 2017)