A domain name is the unique, human-readable address of a website — the stuff in your browser’s address bar after “http://” but before any subsequent “/” characters. This blog actually has two domain names:
Both redirect to the same content, but each serves a different specific purpose (which we’ll get to in a moment). The idea behind a domain name is that it represents where your website “lives” on the internet, so you’ll be telling it to a lot of people and it plays a very important role. In particular, a domain name should be related to you and easy for people to remember. Each of these qualities is quantitative, and varies from domain to domain.
For this blog in particular, both domain names are easily related to me — they’re my name. Where they differ if in how easy they are for people to remember. There are essentially two high-level ways for someone to find out about a domain name; to hear the domain name spoken out-loud, and to see the domain name written down or on screen. These are different situations which have different requirements:
- A domain name that is easy to hear out loud should sound very simple and clear. No weird characters, nothing too clever, no ridiculous abbreviations.
- A domain name that is easy to read should “parse” well. This means that even a quick glance is long enough to comprehend what it says.
I chose to use two domain names for this blog because I couldn’t find one name that matched both those qualities. On the one hand, danmenard.com is very easy to hear out loud. “Dan Menard dot com” or “my name, dot com”. But I hate how it looks; it’s very hard to read, because the “nm” bit kind of obfuscates the whole thing. The other, dan-menard.com, is the opposite. It’s easy to look at an instantly read, but it’s awkward to say out loud “Dan dash Menard dot com” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, and I’m sure people would confuse the dash for an underscore or a slash. By choosing two domain names, I have the best of both worlds:
- If I’m talking to someone in person, I tell them my blog is at the pleasant-sounding danmenard.com.
- If I’m sharing my blog in writing (email, Twitter, etc), I write dan-menard.com because it is easier to read.
What do you think? Do you have a blog? Would it benefit from a second domain name? Leave a comment and share some thoughts.