Thinking of a name for your new website is difficult, and the longer you leave it the harder it gets.

Here’s the situation I’m in… Me, my wife and few of our friends have decided to pool together our various digital skills and resources to start a new film and music website in our spare time.

We know what the content will be (stupid, rambling), we know roughly what our strategy is (hit and hope) and we know what our goals are (free beer).

Planning sessions have gone well, we’ve got loads of ideas for articles, most of them seemed like a good idea in the sober light of the following morning, however we hit a brick wall with the name.

This was two weeks ago. Since then all of our thought and energy has been tied up in firing messages at each other throughout the day with all kinds of ideas…

Here’s a list of the nearly-rans, which probably gives you an insight into our workings…

  • Obscurer
  • A Sleuth of Bears
  • Neon Radar
  • Full Slate
  • Non-Stop Pandemonium
  • Evil Panda

None quite fit, all were either taken, too ‘try-hard’ or in the case of pandemonium too difficult to spell. We hit a serious creative block, and it feels like until we get this name sorted the project will be on indefinite hiatus.

Even iterations of words we like with a vowel removed (Diordrly, Uproard) or with consonants replaced with sound-alike alternatives (Reflektor, Electric Shoxx) were deemed as too trendy and may look dated in a year’s time, if not already.

I’m not sure if the fact we’re starting from scratch makes things easier or harder. Imagine what it was like for companies that have been around since before the internet and the mad scramble they had to fit their already established names into a decent, relevant and hopefully not already taken domain name.

Maybe it is easier now. At the earliest stage of creating your business, company, publication or organization, the name you pick for it is completely dependent on whether the domain is available. Not to mention the Twitter handle, Facebook page, Instagram account, Tumblr page… Oh gosh.

Whereas already established companies may have to squeeze and tweak their names in order to find a suitable domain.

Of course the ultimate problem is that there are currently more than 900m registered website names now (the number increased 44% from 2013 to 2014) and even more gallingly 75% are parked domains that aren’t even being used.

No wonder we’re increasingly having to invent new words (Upworthy), stick a brand new stem on to an already existing word (Mashable), or invent meaningless phrases from a seemingly random collection of words (Consequence of Sound) just to find a free domain.

Of course we could go for an alternative to the .com suffix, that way your top choice of name is theoretically available as long as you don’t mind what follows.

Maybe a .co.uk (too local), .biz (looks awful), .cool (definitely not), .tips (spam!), .ninja (hmm… maybe if I was 13).

But then, who really wants something that isn’t .com? Ultimately no matter what trendy new top-level domains (TLD) are made available .com looks way more professional, has a higher recall and is often what someone will type if they don’t actually remember or know you’re actual TLD.

A quick side-note, branded TLDs have just been introduced, where a brand itself has complete authorisation and control over the TLD (.Nike .Reebok). This has major benefits especially in the financial industry and may help prevent phishing scams. Graham Charlton has more information on this here: Brand TLDs: five potential benefits.

As of the morning of writing this article, we thankfully have our name. Which is probably why I feel okay about writing this post, and definitely more qualified to share with you a few tools that helped us along the way.

We used a mixture of these to come up with the final domain name, so I recommend doing the same. I hope they help.

Name Mesh

A good place to start as it clearly states availability and provides a helpful collection of alternative names under various headings (SEO, alternate TLDs, shortened versions).

NameChk

Will check your name against 157 different social networks and communities in one go.

Panabee

Offers good alternatives involving dropping certain letters out of your name.

Nameboy

What it lacks in post-90s design, it makes up for in variety of choice, including ability to see hyphenated or rhymed options.

Domainr

A beautifully simple interface that puts emphasis on shortening your domain name.

Wordoid

This tool takes the words in your domain name and invents brand new words for you.

Impossibility

Here you can add random adjectives, nouns or verbs to the beginning or end of your keyword.

And of course all is lost, you can always use the…

Heavy Metal Band Name Generator

With option to include non-evil words.

Speaking of naming a band! Here's our post on the UnGoogleable band name.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 19 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (3)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Monkman, Web Developer at E-Dzine

Mmmm vilepanda..... that just sounds wrong.

about 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

Oh no! That's what we went for!

about 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Chris Monkman, Web Developer at E-Dzine

least it wasn't devilpanda.com... have you seen the price for that? (though the .co.uk's going for a song)

about 3 years ago

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