CHAPTER 3copyright Alan Charlesworth :
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domain name choice:
getting it right
3.09 CHOOSING THE RIGHT DOMAIN NAME FOR A MICROSITE
I thought long and hard about even including this section because a microsite falls very much between the promotional site and the landing page - the subjects of the previous and next sections. There is also an issue with the definition of what a microsite is. In my book Key Concepts in e-Commerce, I say the term is generally used to describe one of two types of web presence:
1 Where the organization's objectives can be met by the content of one web page, or
2 A website that is on a different domain to the organization's primary site because it serves a different purpose to the rest of the web presence
In terms of microsite domain names, the first of these issues is covered by the guidelines for organizational names, and in the second the website described is likely to be covered in one or other of the sections of this chapter - 'promotional', 'landing page' or 'unexpected', for example. However, I will offer an analysis of the domain name side of things in what I think is an example of a microsite.
In September 2005 the Hard Rock Cafe chain opened a new outlet in Times Square, New York. As part of an impressive promotion for the new cafe - it swallowed 50% of the chain's annual marketing budget - a microsite was developed on its own domain name. This was a departure from the norm for Hard Rock, which has all of its other outlets, hotels, casinos, events, memorabilia and merchandise on hardrock.com. However, the launch of the new cafe was considered significant enough to have its own domain name - rocktimessquare.com. There are two points of interest on this:
1 Why not hardrocktimessquare.com? This would be the obvious domain name, but the promotion had a distinct emphasis on 'rock' and so the choice makes sense - particularly as the URL was featured heavily on promotional literature - with the microsite being the only way customers could enter a competition to win a trip to the opening night in New York, so it was unlikely that anyone would type in the wrong address. Given the cost of the marketing overall, however, a few dollars to register and redirect hardrocktimessquare.com seems a bit short-sighted. If nothing else it would have prevented any kind of scam being perpetrated on the domain.
2 After the launch the domain name defaulted to hardrock.com/rocktimessquare. Given the policy of having all content under the same domain name, this is understandable. However the pages were not updated until some two months after the event (ie they talked of the launch event in a future tense). During the aftermath of such a massive promotional campaign that featured the rocktimessquare.com domain I would have thought that content could have been developed for a page on that domain - perhaps featuring images and a narrative of the events surrounding the opening of the new outlet - with a link to hardrock.com/rocktimessquare.
Some four years after the event the domain rocktimessquare.com defaults not to the webpage of the Times Square venue of the company, but a 'cafe news' page. Although that page includes a link to a 'cafe locator' facility, it seems to me that anyone who typed in, or clicked on a link for rocktimessquare.com would rather be taken to the designated web page for the New York cafe.
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Copyright copyright 2009 Alan Charlesworth. All rights reserved.
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