Does size matter?

Not long ago, a domain name's value was inversely proportional to its length: the shorter the name, the more it was worth. Why? Because short names are easier to remember and to type. As a result, domain names with only two or three characters were in great demand. Some traders even adopted a policy of registering anything short, whether it had an obvious meaning or not.

Long extensions doing well

Nothing stands still, however. On average, domain names are getting longer. And so are extensions. Take the new city TLDs – top-level domains linked to particular cities. When applications went in for these new gTLDs, some cities opted to use their whole names as extensions. Examples include .amsterdam and .hamburg. Others opted for abbreviations, such as New York's .nyc and Barcelona's .bcn. And, now that they are up and running, the longer extensions seem to be doing better than the short ones. Admittedly, .nyc is bucking the trend, but that abbreviation was already in everyday use.

Less typing, more reading

Clearly, length is not the big issue it used to be. That's mainly because the way we use the internet has changed: people don't type domain names as often as they used to. Now, there's much more emphasis on 'reading'. In 2012, PCs and laptops were still the main devices that people used to go on line. Back then, 69 per cent of all internet users said that they regularly typed domain names to open websites (Source: Trends in internet use 2012). By 2016, the smartphone was dominant and only 33 per cent of users were still typing domain names. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of respondents in a global survey reported judging search results partly on the basis of websites' names and extensions (Source: DNA).

New ideals

When you read a domain name, what matters most is how recognisable it is, not how long it is. So windmill.amsterdam works better than wml.ams, despite being much longer. For the simple reason that you can see what it means straight away. That's not so say, however, that a domain name's length doesn't matter at all any more. A name isn't easy to read if it doesn't fit on a phone screen, for example. If you google something on an iPhone 5, you'll see that domain names of up to thirty characters easily fit on the screen. With a name of that length, you can fit in the www, the extension and a subpage, as in www.volkskrant.nl/economie. Once you get above forty characters, readability quickly declines. Consequently, really long domain names are rare. Just twenty-eight names go right to the limit of sixty-three characters.

Don't let length put you off too easily

So, if you're after a new domain name, don't dismiss an idea just because it's long. Ask yourself how easy it is to read. What will it look like on a smartphone? Would it work better if you added a hyphen or two? Or would that simply complicate it? Such questions are certainly worth putting to the test. And anyone who's on the lookout for a good .nl domain name is well advised to consider the suggestions we provide when you check a name's availability on sidn.nl.

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