Task 4: Think about site branding and domain names

If you have completed your pitch, you are ready to think about site branding. In most cases you will need both a domain name for the site (e.g. “worldpeace.org”) and a site name (e.g. “The World Peace Project”).

A domain name is your address on the Internet. It is what you type into a web browser to go to a web site. A domain name is one type of URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator. You can learn more about URLs by reading the Wikipedia article on Uniform Resource Locators.

Your domain name should be something that is easy to type and easy to remember. Since most of the really good single words are already registered, you will probably need to get creative with your site name. If you are registering a personal site, instead of using just “janedoe.com”, you may be better off adding a middle initial (“janebdoe.com”). For concept sites, a good strategy is to pick two keywords that are both associated with your theme or selling proposition, and combine the two words, such as foundationcenter.org.

If your site has a specific geographic or regional focus, consider using a domain name that immediately signals your purpose, like californiaavocados.com.

You can use Google’s keyword tool to get a sense of what people are searching for. Picking popular search terms may be helpful to you.

Are you sure you need a domain name?

There are a two situations in which you may not need to register a domain name at all.

  1. If the branding benefits of having your own domain name are not important to you, you can run a WordPress blog on WordPress.org without using your own domain name.
  2. If your WordPress site will be part of a larger organization you may set it up using only an IP address, which can be assigned as a subdomain of another primary domain. For example, if you are creating a blog for chocolatemilkshakes.org, and that organization already has a main web site at that address, your WordPress blog might located at blog.chocolatemilkshakes.org.

To complete this task…

Check if the domain names you are thinking about are available by using the search functions provided by domain name registrars, such as Network Solutions or Namecheap.com.

To lock up branding, check to see if all the major variations on the name are available, including .com, .org, .net, and others. You will have to pay for each variation you register, but the effect on brand identity may be worth it to you. Domain names need to be registered on an annual basis, and the cost will be factored in when you plan your budget.

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