The Power of 2 Little Letters
Have you noticed it? They've begun popping up in some of the latest and most innovative start up URLs. While researching strategies for web-based product launches, I came across various start ups reimagining their URLs, specifically the TLDs or, (for those of us who don't speak "code", this includes me...), Top Level Domains.
If you've tried to register a domain name lately, you most likely have realized how difficult it is to get [your new name for a site].com. With the momentum building around a new wave of start ups, the [.com] space has become more limited. Some tricks start ups have resorted to: [hyph-enations.com], [.xx.com], [action-phrase.com]. Feel free to contribute some of your favorites!
Some more established brands with equity among their customers have utilized the [brand phrase.com] or [tagline.com] techniques as more accessible and creative ways to work the brand voice into every touchpoint. During my time working with KEEN footwear as the agency of record (Sr. Design Director), this was a technique we also explored: reimaginetheoutdoors.com, or livingahybridlife.com, or itsawayoflife.com. You get the idea.
I'm sure the design blogosphere is full of opinions 'for-and-against' these techniques applied to URL naming conventions. But the most recent trend, incorporating internet country codes (cc) and domain hacks, breathes some much needed fresh air into the [.com] space and seems to have staying power.
After stumbling upon site after site utilizing ccTLDs, I began researching the meaning behind some of the most popular ones.
To clarify, every country or territory has an approved internet country code, referenced as two c's; (cc), that consist of two letters. Some popular example ares: United States (.us), Canada (.ca), European Union (.eu), and so on. In the tech world, developers and UI designers have been creatively using ccTLDs and applying new meaning to them.
It's been an open secret in developer land that the io acronym is code for 'input/output'. (For me, the emphasis was more on the 'secret' than the 'open'.) With that, the establishment of [.io] —the (cc) for the British Indian Ocean territory— has caught on as the ccTLD of choice for start ups delivering web-based products like balloon.io.
Frontier delivers 5 new products or apps to your inbox every week. It targets early adopters and is a great source for start ups wanting to build their database early on or find test users. They've adopted the [.im] ccTLD which, after a little digging, refers to the receiving or sending of messages, or instant messaging. Kinda cool. A little bit of a stretch, but I get it. By the way, [.im] is the (cc) for Isle of Man, for those of you who are interested.
Another creative use of ccTLDs that's gaining fresh momentum is the domain hack, which suggest a word or larger phrase. A few popular ones: [.me] which you can immediately imagine how this domain hack can be used for personal portfolio sites or online biographies: [designer name.me], and [.is], again very popular for portfolio sites but quickly becoming the ccTLD alternative for many start ups: [ honey.is ]. I've listed a few examples above of companies using these naming techniques.
When brainstorming for that next start up, these techniques to naming can help create succinct and meaningful URLs while allowing you to keep that perfect name intact.
Popular Country Code TLDs: [.io] British Indian Ocean, [.im] Isle of Man, [.me] Montenegro, [.is] Iceland, [.co] Colombia.