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Thoughts from Extrabold Design

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Dot Whatever? New top-level domains are appearing, and they’re here to stay

The world of internet domain suffixes (e.g. ‘.com’) may not be the most exciting topic of conversation, but you will almost certainly have noticed some unusual-looking new domain names starting to appear and be wondering if (a) they are legitimate and (b) they’re just a passing fad that will one day disappear without trace. I can assure you that these new Top Level Domains (TLDs) are here to stay, and I’ll try and explain why.

You will notice my Extrabold website has an address with a ‘.design’ suffix now. This wasn’t always the case – the original address was ‘extrabolddesign.com’, but that domain was just too long-winded for my liking, especially when used for an email address. And what relevance ‘.com’? I was a sole trader, not a company – what a waste of valuable characters! I then moved onto the shorter ‘extrabold.biz’, which solved the brevity issue but raised another one – no mention of design, so no indication of what my business was about, a big deal for me as a small business. Then, on the wave of new TLDs that had started being released in a rolling programme, the ‘extrabold.design’ domain came along and, in an instant, solved it all beautifully.

You may think all this chopping about points to an indecisive and confused mind (and you could be right!) but that was not the driver behind the changes. No, siree, the drivers were succinctness, accuracy and memorability – perfectly rational and sensible motives if you ask me.

I’ve never been an early adopter of anything – ever. I prefer to let things settle down, for improvements to be made, glitches to be ironed out, and prices to become more sensible, especially with anything technology-related. On this occasion, however, when I was offered first refusal to pre-order the ‘.design’ domain for Extrabold prior to the TLD’s launch, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

One criticism levelled at the proliferation of new TLDs is that they are unnecessary (perhaps even unstable) fashion accessories and will vanish as quickly as they appeared, with people reverting back to the sensible, solid, tried and tested ‘.com’s and ‘.co.uk’s. I beg to differ – the new TLDs are here to stay because they provide for web addresses that are meaningful and allow creativity in naming and promotion. What’s not to like? The more businesses and individuals take them up, the more they will become the accepted norm.

The pathway to domain nirvana is not without its pitfalls though – for example, many website logins and forms reject email addresses with the new suffixes. I had this problem on the www.mailbigfile.com website, a site I use regularly and pay a subscription to use, but all it took was one email to them explaining my plight and they had it sorted within minutes – superb customer service there, and an indication that the fix is obviously very quick and simple. So there’s really no excuse for any email address being barred, or any reason why the door shouldn’t be opened to all.

I would go further too – online traders are going to start losing business if they don’t keep up with the TLD proliferation. If I can’t log in on your website, or send an enquiry from it because I have a ‘.design’ email address, it’s very easy for me to go somewhere else where I can – and I will.

If going for one of these new domains sounds a bit risky, it doesn’t have to be. The solution, of course, is just to not dump your old TLD – keep it, keep the email addresses that go with it, and use redirection from your old domain to channel traffic to your new one (or vice-versa, however you want to play it). You can then function quite happily while the domain revolution takes place.

I love my new web address, and I don’t regret throwing my weight behind it lock, stock and barrel, not for a minute. The new TLDs are not for everyone – larger businesses may see change like this as unnecessary and potentially damaging upheaval, although in a bold move the huge online player Booking.com has adopted a “booking.yeah” slogan in its advertising, even though ‘.yeah’ as a domain doesn’t actually exist at the moment (it’s not as foolhardy as it seems – you still get their .com site returned in searches). They can obviously see the creative potential offered by the new TLDs, for businesses of all sizes.

This is definitely the way forward for the Internet, and for once, as a relative luddite, it actually feels like I’m waiting for the world to catch up! For further reading, and even inspiration, have a look at this article on the new TLDs. You might even spot Extrabold at No. 21!

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