Choosing the right domain name, no matter what the purpose, can be a challenging talk, but is nonetheless imperative. Whether you are choosing a domain name for your personal use, a project you are creating, or just for fun, a good domain name is a good indicator of a good website. The first thing you should do when trying to come up with a great domain name is brainstorm keywords related to your project. For example, if your project is a way to make traveling on airplanes with your pet cat more accessible for the average flier, you might start writing down words like “cat,” “airplanes,” “flying.” You can then use these words and find suffixes or prefixes to match them, or try sticking some together (for example “Flying Cats” or “Kitty Flight.”) After coming up with a few ideas for domain names, you want to make sure it’s unique. If you decide you like the name “Kitty Flight,” but “Kitten Flight” is already being used, people will never be able to remember your domain name, and you will miss out on visitors. Another good rule is to never simply “pluralize” or add hyphens or misspelled versions of domain names that are already out there. On a similar note, the only TLD (or top-level-domain) that is of any value is .com. Unfortunately, most computer owners only know that .com websites exist, and will not try the .net or .org version of a domain when the .com version does not get them to where they are trying to go.
Once you’ve come up with a pretty good idea of the domain name that you want, you should make sure that it is both easy to type and easy to remember. If a user must put their full attention to typing an URL properly so as not to make spelling mistakes, or you include non-real words or characters that are not frequently used, your domain name is too difficult to type, and probably too difficult to remember. When it comes to easy-to-remember names, your name should make sense given the objective of your project and perhaps be slightly clever, interesting, or out of the ordinary, just enough that it sticks in the user’s mind. Another part of an easy-to-remember domain name is keeping it short. There is a reason “eBay” isn’t “agreatsidetobidforitems.com.” Keeping it short makes it easy to remember and rolls off the tongue better.
Finally, you want to make sure that your domain name gives users an expectation that you aim to complete. Naming a site for passengers to fly with their cats “Mission Cats” is a little less intuitive than “Kitten Flight.” Be careful not to be too descriptive though, as names like “flywithyourcatsonaplane.com” don’t give you much room to build a brand. Additionally, you should make sure you don’t violate any copyrights with the name you choose. Just because the domain is available doesn’t necessarily mean that the phrase isn’t copyrighted or trademarked. Be sure also not to use any numerals in your domain name. “Kittens4Flying.com” is very cliche compared to domains like “KittensForFlying.com” and makes you look much less professional. Be sure not to just “follow along” with the latest trends either. While sites like “Flickr” and “Tumblr” are all dropping the e in the “er” suffix, in a few years from now this too will seem cliche, and you will be seen as “stuck in the past.” And lastly, to make checking for available domains easier and quicker, you should use a “whois” tool online. These will allow you to quickly look up whether a site is already registered or not, and may even offer similar suggestions.