Post for 1and1.co.uk
Domains, or web address names, are essentially the internet equivalent of post codes. They are used to direct internet traffic to the right general location, from which point local infrastructure takes over and gets them to the right door (or inbox). The growth of the internet placed huge pressure on the original domain structure, quite simply there were so many users per domain that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find enough cyberspace for them all. Because of this, an agreement was reached to launch 700 new domains. This means that quality internet service providers like 1&1 can help their customers find the perfect domain name for their needs.
Like naming a baby, creating a web address is both fun and challenging. Businesses in particular need to ensure that their choice is distinctive and recognizable as well as being easy to find and remember. In the offline world, it’s generally fine for small companies to share a name, even if they’re within the same post code area. Possible customers will understand that Smith’s the butchers is different to Smith’s the bakers, but on the internet, each web name can only be used once per domain and often companies will register names across domains, to ensure that customers who are looking for them will always find them, even if they enter the wrong domain by accident.
Traditionally, internet domains were largely based by country. The underlying assumption was that people were likely to be looking for information which was relevant to their local area. For example, a customer in Paris, France would be unlikely to be interested in local information for Paris, Texas. The reality of the modern internet, however, is that most people want a combination of local and international content. The customer in Paris, France may look for a plumber near them, but they may be perfectly willing to do business with a specialist book shop in Paris, Texas and to participate in forums hosted in Sydney, Australia. Because of this, the new domain names will focus more on the point of interest rather than the point of location (unless the two coincide, such as .london). This switch has important advantages for businesses of all sizes.
First of all it will simply open up much more choice when choosing domain names. At this point in time new businesses have to accept the fact that many domain names are simply out of bounds due to having been legitimately taken by other people. The “use it or lose it” rule stops people simply sitting on domains and does cause some to be released, but under the old system there was little could be done to change the fact that the later arrivals were at a disadvantage in terms of name choice.
Secondly as it focuses on point of interest, it should help to reduce panic-buying of domains. Today, many companies feel obliged to buy the equivalent of their main domain name across a number of domains, just in case customers go to the wrong one. By moving to domain names which carry an inbuilt indicator of the type of activity under the domain, visitors are given clearer guidance as to what to expect. Thus, for example, a software company is unlikely to worry about registering its name under the new .christmas domain.
Thirdly it is hoped that they will help to create local communities, linking offline and online worlds. Many of these new domains are place-specific, such as .nyc, .tokyo and .london. These could provide the perfect online home for local businesses, which want to make use of the internet as a communications tool, but are unconcerned about reaching a global audience. For example, a take-away company, which only works in a particular part of London, does not need a .co.uk address, let alone a .com one but at the moment that is very probably what it has. Hopefully local companies switching to local domains will also help to free-up names for companies which do need the wider reach of the existing domains.
Melissa Stewart is the founder of SheOwnsIt.com. She is a Purveyor of Possibility, Entrepreneur Advocate and Coffee Addict. She believes that behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?