domain name choice:
getting it right
3.17 USING TEXT AND SMS ABBREVIATIONS IN DOMAIN NAMES
It could well be an age thing - I am well past my youth - but as a generalization, I would advise that abbreviations found commonly in text messaging should be avoided in domain names. However, as these have (unfortunately) crept into more general usage, there are exceptions to this rule. In this case those exceptions will come where the target market is willing to accept abbreviations because it is the language they use everyday - teenagers, for example. Perhaps the most acceptable is the use of numbers in place of words. The two most popular being '2' and '4' in place of the prepositions 'to' and 'for' respectively and the use of 'u' instead of the pronoun 'you'. Interestingly, perhaps the most common example of these combine '4' and 'u' to replace 'for you' - as in phones4u and lawyers4u. Both of these are the actual names of the organizations - so their domain names follow suit.
As I have already covered in the section covering the use of numbers in domain names in chapter 3.02, a significant issue comes where the domain name is communicated verbally. The answer comes in registering the name with both the number and the word. This is fine if the domain name is based on the company, brand or product name where some legal recourse is available against squatters, but if you are using a number because the word version has already been registered then you have already lost out. By definition, this can create problems for two businesses that trade online on product4u.com and productforyou.com, as customers will be easily confused.
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE :
Other abbreviations and substitutions exist in the txt wrld - and some have evolved from times long before Twenty First Century teenagers thought they had discovered the misspelt word as being cool. Luv for love, for example, or replacing cks with x. And what about Australian rock band INXS (in excess) - their name dates back to 1979. Similarly, replacing the plural 's' with a 'z' (eg kidz) has been with us for a while. However, despite their use being around for decades, I would advise that using any 4u-type terms or replacing 'cks' with an 'x' in your domain name is to take a risk in any market place other than that of the SMS generation. It would need to be rather enlightened grand parents who would consider buying a £2000 glass structure for growing plants from a website called greenhousez.com, for example. Similarly - and although I think I can see where they are coming from - I feel the credibility of the insurance-advice company kidzclaimz.co.uk takes a real hit with their name. My final example of questionable use of such abbreviations is a haulage company based in my region. Ferguson Transport - presumably after discovering that another company by that name had registered fergusontransport.co.uk - elected to go with fergytrux.com. Now perhaps this is how the company is known within the logistics industry, but wouldn't the CEO of any organization looking to allocate an essential distribution contract for its products prefer to deal with a company whose website uses a domain name made up of words that can be found in a dictionary? Note that at the time of writing fergusontransport.eu, ferguson-transport.co.uk and ferguson-transport.com were all available.
when numbers don't add up
Phones4u have their website on phones4u.co.uk. Also redirecting to that name are phones4u.com, phonesfouru.co.uk and phonesfouru.com. Interestingly, the latter reflect the translation of the character '4' to the word 'four', whereas in the literal meaning of the name '4' is an abbreviation of 'for'. However, phonesforu.com and phonesforu.co.uk are not owned by Phones4u.
Another company that uses '4' in the same way is cash4gold.com - who ran TV adverts in which the voice-over said; 'go to our website on cash4gold.com, that's cash, the number four, gold, dot com'. Need I add a comment?
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE :
do you know what u are doing?
August 2006 saw the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ban an ad that featured a domain name which caused problems for respondents. There is an element of irony that the Home Office's website for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre failed to consider their domain name registration policy (if there is one!) before going live online. Their promotional domain name was thinkuknow.co.uk - and the issue was with the use of the 'u' for 'you'. They probably thought it appealed to the yooff market - but problems arose in that the CEOP ad ran on the radio. The voice-over simply referred to the website as 'thinkuknow.co.uk' - and, of course, loads of folk typed in thinkyouknow.co.uk.
Unfortunately for the CEOP, this took users to a parked domain which featured a whole host of links, some of which were to the exact kind of sites that the CEOP was warning children and parents about.
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