Quick tips for web design: Assigning domain names

Ryan Boudreaux addresses the issue of domain name selection and naming strategies for your websites.

These tips have a central focus on assigning domain names for your web sites — their selection, sub-domains, top-level domains, and coming up with a domain name strategy for your organization.

Sub-domain WWW: As a general rule the www sub-domain should still be included as a part of your domain name list. Many sites are getting away from this, but it remains that most people are still used to seeing the www at the start of a website address, so make sure your website operates with and without this sub-domain. Going mobile: As more and more web applications are being built around mobile platforms and devices it makes sense to reserve an m. sub-domain (e.g., This sub-domain naming convention is becoming more common, and it is a less expensive approach when compared to the .mobi top-level domain. Instead of paying for a new domain name, such as,, for example, one solution could add a new directory under the root /htdocs folder named m as in /htdocs/m and upload the files for mobile access that would be seen at the web address of Top-level domain (TLD) selection: Before you go out and decide on a brand name for yours or the client's web site go ahead and check to see which TLD's are available first. The most popular and generally recognized TLD selections are the .coms, the .nets, and the .orgs. Most other TLD's are country, region, or more specific and tend to be less recognized by the general public. Unless you want to target a specific local audience, then it may benefit your website to purchase a country code top level domain from your own country. A domain name such as would be a great way to grab visitors in Italy. A dash here: Or a hyphen there? As a rule of thumb you want to avoid adding dashes or hyphens to your domain names, as the general consensus seems to be there is no real advantage with search engine ranking. URLs without hyphens do take on a more professional appearance, however, and hyphens are typically okay in certain specific uses, but when you start stringing them together with more than two or three words or phrases it can take on a cumbersome look and feel. Hyphenated domain names can work with targeted key word campaigns and search engine spiders, and if that is the purpose of the sight or domain then the hyphens can be a benefit. However, if you're marketing campaign is to create a brand, a remembered domain name, and you want it to stay on the top of customer awareness, then a hyphen-less domain name works best. Domain name hacks: The term hack is used in the context of a naming trick, and domain hacks are an unconventional way of combining top level domains to spell out a name or title for an organizations domain. Several examples of domain name hacks include (Google), (blogs), (delicious), and And one of the shortest possible domain hacks today is the one launched by National Public Radio (NPR) using the county code TLD (ccTLD) of Puerto Rico and is listed under the domain name hack, which redirects to their home page. ccTLD - Speaking of domain name hacks, some countries require that you or your organization reside in the country of origin, and these restrictions could be subject to forfeiting of the ccTLD as a violation of registration agreements. Check with the restrictions and regulations from the country of origin before taking on a ccTLD. Domain name auctions: While it can be quite an expensive affair to purchase an existing domain name, it might just prove a worthwhile venture if the name fits with your organization. Domain name auctions can be a great place to buy or sell a domain that has already been established with a proven record for attracting business.

What problems have you run into with domain names? Add your own comments or suggestions below.


Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

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