Entrepeneur Wannabe: Choosing a Domain Name

keskiviikkona, helmikuuta 13, 2008

I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but I recently saw someone refer to me as “the savvy duck” and felt like I needed to set the record straight about my method for selecting a domain name. I’m not giving any rules, best practices or anything like that. This is story time.
I was about to start writing a data tracking tool and was looking for a domain name that would fit with the product. I went with an adjective and noun combination and registered my domain. My adjective was the word empirical. The platform I was building was for developers and I figured that most of them knew the word empiricaland would hopefully work out well. This was not the case at all. I had only slightly better results with empirical than if I chose the Hawaiian word for trigger fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.
I didn’t realize my error until the day I called Dell about buying a laptop. I had to give my email address to the sales rep so he could send me a quote. I rattled off the email address and we ended the call. I was getting quotes from three other vendors so I made a few other calls.
One sales rep didn’t know the word at all. Ok, some developers slam sales guys as not being the brightest folk but good sales people are actually pretty darn smart. I spelled out empirical and moved on to my next call. This new guy just asked me to spell it out. Apparently he was tired of trying to figure out spellings for domain names awhile ago and made his request in a way that indicated he does this a million times a day and tomorrow he’ll do it a million more times.
The email from the Dell rep didn’t arrive. It had been an hour. I logged into another email account and sent my empirical account an email. My message arrived within a few seconds so I knew the account was working. I called the rep and he told me the message bounced. He spelled empirical wrong.
I had to talk to a person with the state about registering my business. There too I had to define the word and how to spell it. These people deal with business names all day and I live in a state on the French-Canadian border. Our towns are packed with business names that have pronunciations that seem only loosely related to their spelling. I knew I was screwed when I realized that the state employees couldn’t spell the word empirical either.
I wanted to start a new analytics application last year. I was talking with an odd CEO about figuring out a domain name and he gave me some interesting advice. He basically said that “many companies change their focus in the first few years so pick a name that can be anything.” The idea is that the company can reinvent itself and the domain name is still applicable.
He also suggested using a cute animal for the domain or have a really attractive woman on the home page.
My wife and I were sitting around trying to think of cute animal domain names. I wanted an adjective that described the animal as being intelligent. The animal’s name had to be something easy to spell. We churned out names like “wisesquirrel”, “trickybadger” but most people don’t write animal names very often. How often do you type the word wombat, chipmunk or wolverine?
Finally, we came up with savvyduck.com. Sure, not everyone knows the double-v in savvy but everyone knows duck. A lot of people like ducks too. It sounded cool and it meant nothing. The best bit was that a product could be called savvy duck, but it seemed to apply better to the user. The user is the savvy duck. The user is the smart one. That’s true of the users of most products too.
Picking savvyduck.com worked out really well because I did end up switching from a product to a blog and it is memorable. I, however, am more of an opinionated schmuck rather than a savvy duck.

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