What's in a name?
Some say that the Dotcom bubble has long burst, and that people aren't so easily swayed by the idea of the Internet any more. Maybe they're right, maybe they're not. Yet one thing remains as important today as it was when the Internet as we know it today was founded - without a proper Internet address, your company won't succeed online.
How many times have you been surfing the Internet and found websites like www.mysite.yoursite.com/~some_folder/my_stuff/index.html? Do they look professional? I don't mean do they look pretty with nice pictures and stuff, I mean do they seriously think that it looks professional to have such an odd domain name? A proper Dotcom (or .co.uk, or whatever) will cost peanuts these days, and when your company uses the cheap option of free space with a long domain name full of dots and slashes, it just looks like your company is cheap. I mean, why would I want to buy somthing from a cheapskate company when I buy from a good reputable well-known competitor? Remember that this is what it is all about - beating your competitors.
Of course, that isn't the only reason. Dotcom names are so much easier to remember than the really long free alternatives. If I said to you that www.books.com and www.somesite.com/~freebies/members/book791/ both sold books, which would you most likely remember and visit to buy books from? Books.com, right?
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with free web hosting, it's just not for business sites - I don't think that Fred Smith needs his own Dotcom, not just to show some pictures to his family and friends anyway! Yet if Fred started to sell things, or tried to market his site, he would need to get a proper name as much as any other company.
Ever heard the phrase "you can't make money without putting in money?" Well this applies here too, invest in a good name, and pay for some web space - I can't guarentee that you will make money, but I can say that I would be more likely to spend money at www.yourcompany.com than I would at www.mysite.com/~yourcompany!
So go out there, find a name, and then you can start on making sure that everyone knows who you are!
The author, Dylan Parry, is a student at University of Wales, Bangor, studying a degree in Computer Systems with Psychology. He has been designing web sites for over five years, and is the developer of Webpage Workshop.