Getting started

How to use a domain name? I. To express yourself

nom de domaine user guide

Last time, we talked about how a domain name is your address online, so it follows that just like an address, the way to use a domain is like any other piece of personal data: print it on your business cards and put in your social media profile a bit like a phone number. But a domain name can say way more about you than a phone number can. So use it to express yourself.

1. Say something about your community

First off, just like a phone number has an area code that tells you about location, a domain name’s TLD – that part after the dot – does the same.

Just like it makes it easy when you provide people with a local phone number, having a “local” TLD can work the same way. Each country has its own country-code TLD (ccTLD), like .FR for France, .CL for Chile or .CA for Canada. And some cities have their own too: .NYC, .BERLIN, or .PARIS.

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. A whole host of new gTLDs like .COFFEE, .TECH, or .ART are available for those who want to associate themselves with a particular community, and new “true” generic TLDs like .XYZ, .BUZZ, or .SITE also give you the liberty to express yourself in your domain name.

Most people opt for .COM, .ORG, or .NET, which each have their own connotations to consider, too.

We’ll be discussing how to choose a domain name in later, but no matter suffice to say a domain name is a part of who you are, so you’ll have to treat it that way.

2. Figure out what you want to say

While phone numbers and street addresses are usually arbitrary and uncreative – with the exception of numbers like 1-800-COLLECT and addresses like One Infinite Loop – a domain name can say way more than either can.

What comes before the dot is even more important than what comes after. Use your domain to communicate not just how to reach you online, but, like a screen name, us it to express your culture, your philosophy, your interests, or speak to those of your ideal audience.  Whether or not you already have a domain name, you’ll want to think about what your domain name says about you.

Because a domain name usually does the work of a phone number or an address, you’ll of course need to remember to include it everywhere you’d put either of these — from business cards and resumes to t-shirts and billboards — but because, even before people start navigating to it, it’ll be telling them something about you, use your domain to think strategically about what you want to say to the world. Your domain can be a tool for figuring that out.

Before you set up email, before you link it to a site, the first way to use your domain is to represent you. We’ll be talking about how to use your domain as a tool for you and your audience later. But first, choosing a domain entails some other considerations too, especially SEO. Stay tuned …