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Domain recognition in the address bar

tristimb profile image tris timb ・3 min read

Technologies goal to make our lives easier, is a common sentiment shared throughout the world. Competition in convenience is probably no where as fickle as the software industry, where a poor user experience can easily lose the user. That is why establishing direct contact between the product and users has been considered so valuable for businesses. You may remember pre-installed services like ask.com's toolbar, but the more modern requests of notification permissions or 'add to home screen' buttons are the same thing. Businesses are trying to establish user habits, through on device shortcuts.

This leads me to a realization I had shortly after I started using Netlify. At the time I didn't have cable or an internet tv, so when I wanted to watch something I'd plug-in my computer and watch from netflix.com. In doing this I built up a pretty strong user habit of:

  1. Plug computer into the TV
  2. Open Firefox
  3. Type 'n' in the address bar (netflix.com is the top suggestion)
  4. Press enter
  5. Pick a show, sit back, and relax

Once netlify.com became my most visited 'N' site, my habit was broken. For weeks I would first go to Netlify when trying to watch a show, sometimes it would even get me to switch to coding that evening instead. The impact this seemingly small pattern had on my activity, got me thinking about the business value it must have had on me as a user. This thinking would be considered part of UX, and I think it is a valid consideration for anyone building an internet product.

Ideas of Domain UX

A few considerations for choosing a domain name, that promotes discoverability and builds habits.

Shortcuts

It's every business's dream to have their product just a click away, anti-trust suits in Europe gave a glimpse of this value last year with Android. Common developer shortcuts might be 'g' for Github or 's' for Stack Overflow. Consider what your target users natural shortcuts might already be, and what would be available.

Avoid competitors

Hosting your ecommerce store at amazing____.com is probably a bad idea. A new product/service should avoid their competition, you don't want your users being suggested amazon.com for the first four letters they type in when looking you up.

Align with partners

If your business is built around something more popular, leading with it may be valuable. For example vuemastery.com has courses on learning Vue.js, once the sites in your history it will be suggested every time you start a query with 'vue' (which I can attest is a lot when you're learning).

Prepending domains

Don't add 'get', 'go', or other action words to the beginning of your domain. I believe these domains disrupt the natural shortcuts people want to make with your product. A left edge search of what users associate your site as should be your domain. With hundreds of new gTLD's theres a lot more domain options now, prepending shouldn't be necessary.

Subdomains

I'm all for building out proper site architecture that matches breadcrumb structure for SEO required applications, but SPA's can definitely use subdomains to get their naming pick. Two of my strongest address habits mail.google.com and drive.google.com have become second nature.

Thanks for reading my first post on here!

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