Domain names are crucial to almost any business. If you get it right, producing something succinct, memorable and straightforward, people know who you are, what you do and where to find you on-line all by remembering a word or two. The problem is that all the simplest, most effective domain names have already been snapped up, at least with the .com extension attached, and many businesses are left with long, fumbling domains that are either about as memorable as the first 50 digits of pi or don’t come across as intended in the stark black and white of the address bar. Here are some of the best and worst domain names from our on-line history.
\#1 – effoff.com – Effective Office Environments
It’s abundantly clear nobody at Effective Office Environments considered the implications of reading their domain name phonetically, in which case it reads like the domain of an online database of profane insults. If you’re looking for “effective interiors” for your workplace, you probably aren’t hoping for a URL-based slanging match.
\#2 – teacherstalking.org – Teachers Talking
A refresher course for Spanish and French teachers, or a handy way to surreptitiously track and follow your old educators? Based on the domain, it could be either, but the human brain seems to preferentially recognise the horrendous one. The website looks poorly maintained these days, for obvious reasons.
\#3 – business.com
Here’s a lesson in how to do things right. This domain name went for $7.5 million US (about £4.7 million) in 1999, making it one of the most expensive domain names in online history. The formula is simple: short, to the point and unmistakable.
\#4 – blackhatebook.com – Black Hat eBook
A perfect example of the dangers of a long, fumbling domain. BlackHat.com obviously wasn’t available, but adding “eBook” on the end made this otherwise innocuous name seem like the title of a racist manifesto.
\#5 – molestationnursery.com – Mole Station Nursery
The less said about this the better. Clearly, it isn’t exactly the message you want to be giving off. How you'd go about molesting a plant is anybody's guess, but that's what anybody reading Mole Station Nursery's domain name would have been wondering.
\#6 – hotels.com
Another prime example of a winning domain name: it’s simply the service you’re looking for with a snappy, memorable extension stuck on the end. This went for $11 million (about £6.8 million) in 2001. The only issue for budding domain name entrepreneurs and business owners is that these short, sharp domains are usually taken in the .com form.
\#7 – beer.com
Interbrew owns this domain, after having snapped it up for a tidy sum of $7 million (about £4.36 million) in 1999. Its power is not only in how easily memorable it is, but how you could find it with only the most rudimentary understanding of how the Internet works
\#8 – michaeljacksonsthisisthemoviemerchandise.com
In a profound moment of ineptitude, someone, somewhere, decided to the take the “basicdescriptionofproduct.com” theory of domain naming to its unfortunate extreme. It reads like that same individual with the rudimentary understanding of the Internet (the sort who types what they want followed by “.com” to find something online) has decided to make a website. For Michael Jackson movie merchandise. Really, it’s probably a sloppy attempt at SEO (search engine optimisation), but it reads that way regardless.
\#9 – ferrethandjobs.com – Ferreth and Jobs, PA
Two lawyers with the unfortunate slogan “is your business in the right hands?” settled on this gem after obviously attempting to be sensible and just use their surnames. They’ve since changed it to FerrethJobs.com, but for a brief time, the world could have easily mistaken them for a couple of ferret pimps.
\#10 – budget.co.ck – Budget, Cook Islands
Here the extension (ahem...) is the big issue, clearly making the intention of providing a Cook Islands branch of the car rentals company with a dedicated website look more like an online discount penis provider. In fairness, it’s the Cook Islands’ extension; all businesses using a local domain will have the same issue. “.co.” extensions are fairly awkward at the best of time, which is one of the reasons people in the UK like Stephen Fry are deciding to switch over the new, short and sharp “.uk” domain.
Related: UK Domain Family: FAQs
\#11 – sex.com
An inevitable huge seller among the porn industry, this went for $14 million (£8.7 million) in 2010, another of the most successful domain names which follows the straightforward and succinct methodology. Finding one with a “.com” extension that’s vacant would be incredibly challenging today, so unless you catch an emerging extension (like “.uk” for British sites) it would cost an unholy sum of money.
\#12 – viagrafix.com – Via Grafix
Now known as Learn2, this domain name has all the hallmarks of a desperate search for an available domain name. The misspelling of “grafix” makes it easier, but also destroys the whole attempt at naming a site in a deluge of erection jokes. Clinging to the “.com” extension can have its downsides.
\#13 – ladrape.com – La Drape
This British company (based near Runcorn) makes bespoke bed spreads, but clearly didn’t think about the importance of capitalisation and spacing in domain names. They could have gone with something like quilts.uk or drape.uk, but instead ended up looking like a purveyor of sex crimes.
\#14 – insure.com
To finish, this is a reminder of how domain names are supposed to turn out. Simple, direct and to the point, impossible to forget and a much-needed service too. If you can pick up a domain name like this (but not for $16 million – almost £10 million – as this sold for in 2009) you’re onto a real winner. The only way you can do it in the modern age is with an emerging extension, and for those in the UK (with co.uk. being a little lengthy and well-plundered), .uk offers a short, sharp and under-explored alternative. Otherwise, you might end up verbally squirming your way into some unpleasant confusion for the sake of finding an available domain. You can pick up domain names from websites like Nominet (the leading online domain name provider), or through their dedicated site for the purpose of the “.uk” launch.
Related: Dot UK Launch
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- European Domain Centre: The top 25 most expensive domains of all times (June 2013)