July 14, 2016

Are you trying to pick a great domain name for your new startup or website?

Great, but so is everyone else. The domain name market is a very competitive market. It’s first come, first serve and they’re relatively cheap to get. The most frustrating part comes when someone bought the domain name you want but they either don’t use it or put it up for sale (usually for a ridiculous price).

Here are few guidelines that I follow when coming up with a great domain name.

1. Pick the right extension (.com, .net, .org, …)

  • If you’re building a mass-consumer product, stick with a .com
  • If your audience are not too technologically-savvy, stick with a .com (they’re not going to remember other extensions).
  • If your audience are software engineers or work closely with engineers, .co or .io works, too.
  • If you’re running a non-profit organization, .org

How about the other extensions?

I generally avoid them. They’re generally not as well known.

How about something cool like harijan.to for Harijanto?

That’s cool, but I would still get harijanto.com whenever possible and make the .com the primary domain (i.e. just setup harijan.to to redirect to harijanto.com).

2. Avoid tongue twisters


  • shipitsharp.com
  • sellseashells.com
  • bitsbeats.com

Most people would get confused and forget the name quickly.

3. Avoid the phonetically-ambiguous

  • “Docszilla” or “Doczilla”
  • “Crylix” or Crylics
  • “Shippr” or “Shipr
  • “AddDesigns” or “AdDesigns”
  • “JackIt” or “Jacket
  • “TripScheduler” or “TripsScheduler”

Basically, there shouldn’t be any confusion on how to spell the domain name from the way it’s pronounced.

4. Know the rules of the registry/extensions

For example, .ly  domain regulations:

3.5 The Applicant certifies that, to the best of his/her knowledge the domain name is not being registered for any activities/purpose not permitted under Libyan law.

And also:

8.4 GPTC reserves the right to suspend or delete a domain name at any time […] 8.4.2 The Applicant/Registrant is in violation of any of the terms and conditions in this Regulation.

If you were to use a .ly domain name for something mission critical, make sure you fully understand their rules completely OR ELSE things like this, this, or this would happen to your domain name.

5. Don’t violate others’ trademarks

They can sue you to get it from you.

Need help finding a great domain names? Read this article.

Ryan Harijanto

Head of Engineering. Former Sr. Engineer @Netflix , @HotelTonight , @Shutterstock. Previously a Senior Systems Engineer at Netflix, currently technology advisor and board member for emerging companies. Diverse technological knowledge and understanding of various industries.

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