Does Your Domain Name Pass The "Billboard Test"?

Jul 25, 2006 - 12:44 pm 4 by
Filed Under Usability

Billboards exclusively promoting websites? Does you domain enable others to remember it if it were on a billboard? There is an excellent thread on WMW that examines the uses of domains on billboards and what "type" of domain would be an excellent choice for advertising on a billboard. These days having a short and memorable domain for your business or website is priceless. People are paying more today for premium domains then they were several years ago. With type-in traffic being captured by all sorts of purveyors in order to monetize it. Businesses with excellent memorable single or easy to remember words and phrases can really benefit from these domains in the offline world.

One of the admin's on WMW starts the thread with some criteria he considers useful for making a "billboard" test for your domain.

1) Easy to remember, because drivers won't be able to write them down. 2) No hyphens or non dot-com TLDs - drivers will forget hyphens, and probably type in the .com even if you advertised ".net". 3) No easy-to-confuse variations that you don't own. (E.g., plural/singular variants when applicable). 4) Relevant to the buyer's interest or need.

While I agree with most of those, there are a few things I don't. I think .net's in general can be good for billboard purposes, there are plenty of examples of companies using .net's out there. Hyphens' are not good I agree, but they are still in use. One of the members cuts it down a little and says "Any chance you can get a memorable URI in front of an audience, take it!" Can't beat that assessment.

So what about all those Web 2.0 sites with plenty of periods and compressed words such as "" or ""? One of the members dmorison states his rule is "#1 rule is never to use anything that requires clarification when dictated. Before registering a domain, imagine yourself telling someone about your URL or your email address over the phone". Good advice.

One of the gems from this thread is the discussion of geo-targeting with domains for specific services and how in the future direct navigation will become important. Webwork, a moderator on WMW says:

Billboards are the toughest medium for recall since exposure is brief, the viewer is concentrating on something else, and writing is often impossible.

What happens, come the day, when the lemmings latch on to this idea? When you pass 213 billboards emblazened with URLs on them?

My advice to the local webmaster, the webmaster or business that is geo-targeting for a service company, a service company being one that performs locally: Make the URL real simple for the masses, bordering on brainless, to remember. Apply the same thinking that went into building the domain-as-direct-WWW-navigation model.

Some great information all around. I would encourage you to take a peak at this thread today if you have the time.

Continued discussion at WMW - Drive-by Business URL's - The Billboard Test


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