The usability of all these new TLDs and .me

A TLD is a Top Level Domain. It refers to the part after the last period of a domain name. eg., .com, .ca, .net, .org, etc. The world is running out of domain names. Many of the common words and 2-and-3 letter domains with common TLDs being bought more than 20 years ago. Now they’re being resold for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases because of their desirability.

There needs to be a solution so we don’t all run out of domain names or are at the mercy of what is know as Domain Squatting. Domain Squatting is where people buy potentially popular domain name and don’t use them. Businesses can then buy them from the squatter at a gouging price.

One solution are new TLD Names. That’s where instead of .com it could be just about any word submitted by just about anybody and approved by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). This means that websites could have an address like alans-best-coffee.cafe, as oppose to alans-best-coffee.com. There’s a fun list of all of the new TLDs on the Wikipedia page including such gems as .lol, .coffee, .pizza, .ninja, .sucks, .guru, and .blue.

One of the issues with this is that the more common TLDs such as .com have become so commonplace that anything outside of the few common ones are going to be confusing to some people. For example, dropbox.design doesn’t even really look like a domain name in the well know sense.

An example of where an uncommon TLD failed me, is 1ty.me (read as “one time”). Which–trust issues aside–is a service that creates “One Time Self Destructing Links For Sharing Sensitive Information“. Now, try calling up one of your not-so-savvy clients who loves the insecure practice of emailing passwords and credentials, and tell them that web address. The phone call went a little like this…

Al: Go to Number one, tee-why, dot, em-ee.

Not-so-savvy: One-tee-why-dot-em-ee, dot com? dot ca?

Al: No dot com, just the em-ee

Not-so-savvy: What about the dot com?

Al: It doesn’t need a dot com, the em-ee is the dot com

Not-so-savvy:

Al: Any luck?

Not-so-savvy: So… is it dot net?

This goes on, but I’ll spare you the details. You can see how this isn’t the most usable for the users who haven’t yet grasped that TLDs don’t have to be .com.

The shared office space in Toronto where I work that has the domain projectspac.es. Or as the founder, Jeff, likes to say “Project spack dot ee es“.

I would suggest for the next few years at least, you’ll have to find more creative domain names for your projects until this new TLD convention catches on. A longer URL may be more usable than trying to tell people to check out your new blog at the unconventional domain name: blogr.guru (available at time of this writing).

Keep in mind that domain names appear on all different types of media. Will the person that you hand your business card to be able to recognize that blogr.guru is a domain name? If not, you may be having some awkward conversations as well.