My old domain lives here.
Several weeks ago I found myself wanting to share some thoughts on a topic, and I realized it was finally time for me to get my own site; my hop onto the blogging bandwagon was seven years overdue. (Or perhaps a little early: I last had a personal website in the late 90s, and it was an eerily close approximation of today’s standard blog format. It may
have looked ridiculously amateurish, however. Some Googling indicates that the name was taken over by a restaurant in Belize.)
While I have plenty of URLs lying around–many were purchased during bouts of insomnia for projects that looked significantly less brilliant the next morning—none of them seemed appropriate. It was time to pick something new. Plus, naming things is a blast.
What I was looking for
Rather than dive right in and register something, I first established my criteria.
- It should tell people how to feel. We all promote an image of ourselves to help shape what people think about us. While this certainly isn’t a professional site, it’s not exactly personal, either: I was searching for something timeless, something a little nerdy-cool but not hip, and something that shows I don’t take myself too seriously.
- It should be a good domain. That is, it should be easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to remember. No puns and no swapped/missing/duplicated letters.
- It should be available. I’m cheap, and my religion prohibits me from buying already-registered domains.
- It should be simple to illustrate. I’m not an artist, so I wanted to use preexisting images. And since I like money, I wanted to use ones in the public domain. It had to be easy to construct a site that wouldn’t embarrass me and my hypothetical future children.
Hey kids! ReflexFurnace.com is still available!
It’s 2012, so pretty much any English word is long gone. I’m either inventing a new word, disemvoweling something (yuck
), or choosing a compound word. I like door number 3, which meant it was time to come up with some themes, root words, prefixes, suffixes, and whatnot. After much abuse of Whois and crossing off everything Robotech-related, I came up with Sputnik 11. It immediately felt right, and five minutes later, it was mine
- Everyone thinks they know what Sputnik is, but this name lets me share the history of Sputnik 11.
- The name evokes a nostalgia for a future that never was. Sputnik makes people smile. Based on the success of Mad Men, so does this entire era.
- Those of you familiar with my background know my affection for the number 11. The ‘Eleven Learning’ name was a conversation starter, and our users loved it.
Several years ago a coworker of mine declared that anyone whose email address contained a number was just lazy. Her statement was aimed directly at me. I’ll have to ask her what she thinks of URLs with numbers in them.
I am sick of startups with terrible names
This is my plea: if you’re picking a URL—even if it’s for something as inconsequential as the site you’re reading now—have a process. Hell, you could do worse than using mine.
- It should tell people how to feel. Don’t recycle one you already have. Don’t choose something at random. Pick it because your audience will like it, not because you do.
- It should be a good domain. This reminds me of how I once talked myself out of a sure-thing consulting gig by pointing out that prospective users wouldn’t know how to spell the URL…
- It should be available. This is a no-brainer for a vanity blog, but it’s also true for startups. I die a little when I hear about companies that spend half their cash on a domain. And by the time a fancy domain is in their budget, their current name will have so much traction that they shouldn’t change. (The exception is when people call a site by something other than its URL, like thefacebook.com or twttr.com.)
It should be simple to illustrate. OK, maybe this one just applies to me.
“We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”
– Jack Dorsey
Time to pick obnoxious hipster names for those hypothetical kids.