Choosing a domain name is an extremely important part of designing your website, as that becomes the name of your website. Your domain name is the first part of the Uniform Resource Locator, or “URL.” There are many things to keep in mind while choosing a suitable domain name.
Make the Domain Unique
Having your website confused with a popular site already owned by someone else is a recipe for disaster. Thus, I never choose domains that are simply the plural, hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain.
Make it Easy to Type
If a domain name requires considerable attention to type correctly, due to spelling, length or the use of un-memorable words or sounds, you’ve lost a good portion of your branding and marketing value. I’ve even heard usability folks toute the value of having the letters include easy-to-type letters (which I interpret as avoiding “q,” “z,” “x,” “c,” and “p”).
Make it Easy to Remember
Remember that word-of-mouth and SERPs dominance marketing (where your domain consistently comes up for industry-related searches) both rely on the ease with which the domain can be called to mind. You don’t want to be the company with the terrific website that no one can ever remember to tell their friends about because they can’t remember the domain name.
Keep the Name as Short as Possible
Short names are easy to type and easy to remember (the previous two rules). They also allow for more characters in the URL in the SERPs and a better fit on business cards and other offline media.
Avoid Copyright Infringement
This is a mistake that isn’t made too often, but can kill a great domain and a great company when it does. To be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright with your site’s name, visit copyright.gov and search before you buy.
Reject Numbers
Numbers make it hard to give your domain name verbally and falls down on being easy to remember or type. I’d suggest not using spelled-out or roman numerals in domains, as both can be confusing and mistaken for the other.
Don’t Follow the Latest Trends
Website names that rely on odd mis-spellings (like many Web 2.0 style sites), multiple hyphens (like the SEO-optimized domains of the early 2000’s), or uninspiring short adjectives (like “top…x,” “best…x,” “hot…x”) aren’t always the best choice. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but in the world of naming conventions in general, if everyone else is doing it, that doesn’t mean it’s a surefire strategy. Just look at all the people who named their businesses “AAA… x” over the last 50 years to be first in the phone book; how many Fortune 2000’s are named “AAA company?”