What’s in a name, practical problems with the new domain TLDs

If you are starting out afresh with a new business, as we at 542 Digital have just done, then you soon come up against the conundrum of what on earth to call yourself. Its a nightmare, made worse by the lack of .com domains. Everyon wants a dot com. The .com (.co.uk, .net, .org etc) part of a domain name is known as a top level domain [TLD]. Anyone who uses a horrendeouslylongdomainname.com will soon learn that you wear out keyboards faster than piano cat. Enter the new domain TLDs, which are being marketed as the glimmer of hope for new businesses and start ups. Read on for some practical advice on choosing one.

A partial solution that in the past few years is starting to gain traction on the internet is the new TLDs that are being offered by domain registrars. Examples include .digital (surprise!), .london, .solutions. Here’s a list of them all. Good luck choosing! It only took us a few months to think of a name combined with an acceptable TLD.

But there are hidden consqueences of using the new TLDs as we have found out.

1) You still need to check and/or register different TLDs to protect your property

As with the .com rush of previous years, you need to hold your ground and protect your brand. This means registering numerous domains that could be related to your business.

2) Many people don’t understand them.

Explaining an email address whatever@542.digital to a person, especially over the phone, often results in the third party quoting whatever@542digital.com back to you.

So we registered 542digital.com also, this domain is basically an alias of 542.digital and thus all emails to whatever@542digital.com will still be delivered. This is more important because of the next issue…

3) Many websites simply cannot verify the new TLDs

This meant that when we started to transfer accounts and create new accounts across the internet to service the new business, time and again whatever@542.digital was failing validation. Seeing as this is the internet I might as well call some of them out:

Another issue we found is that some validation routines could not accept a domain name with only numeric characters. While this is probably fairly unique to us, it as an issue for any email validation routine a developer should really test for. Numeric only domains are common in Asia where they are more easily read.

Unless we had whatever@542digital.com as a backup we would have enormous problems.

Conclusion

The new TLDs are gaining traction, and for new businesses without an already established old school TLD (eg .com) they are definitely a viable alternative. However you will need a suitable backup using traditional TLDs.

For existing businesses with a traditional TLD, you should think about staking your claim on any relevant new TLDs to your business.

And for any developers out there, you need to pull your socks up. There are now internationalized domain names and TLDs to deal with. That piece of regex you’ve been using since 2005 could well be blocking legitimate users from your site/app… but that is an issue for another post.