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Coming up with a good name for your website or forum is very important. A good name could mean the difference between a website which is successful, and one that it not. When you are going through the process of selecting a name, there are proven techniques which are designed to come up with as many names for your website as possible, and then eliminate the names which you do not like.
Before examining the method for coming up with a good website name, you need to come up with a list of requirements which you have for a name to be a “good name.”
Requirements for a Good Website Name
This list is fairly subjective, so feel free to use your own list of requirements. It is important, though, that you understand your own personal list of requirements for a good website name. Here is the list that I recommend.
1. The .com or .org domain must be available
I recommend only registering .coms or .orgs, because of the infrequency at which .net domains are typically used. If you tell someone you know in person to visit yourwebsite.net, they are as likely as not to type in yourwebsite.com instead, and go to one of your competitors. If you would like to use a .club domain, or even a .net, though, that is your choice.
2. The name must be short and to the point.
Long names are hard to remember, so it is best to keep away from them. Usually a name is a combination of two english language words: ForumPromotion, CreateSpace, DigitalPoint, StackOverflow, etc, etc. Most of the domain names for single english words have been taken, such as Amazon.com and Hover.com, so looking into those names may be a waste of time. Names which are composed of three words are usually too long, unless one of the words is “the” (such as TheAdminZone.com). Also, a name can be a misspelling of a real english language word, such as Google, which is a misspelling of Googol. In summary, there are three types of good, short names: One word names, two word names, and one word misspelled names.
3. The name must be pronounceable by yourself
This is very important. If the name is a tongue twister, which is common for two word names, then it is not a good names. You need to be able to say it. Also, if you have a speech impediment and cannot pronounce a particular name with good clarity, it is best not to use that name (you are the website’s founder, so you will be saying the name a lot).
Method for Generating a Lot of Website Names
This technique is known as brainstorming. It is seen by experts as one of the best ways to come up with a large number of names in a short period of time. It requires only a piece of paper (or a text editor), and a pencil (or a pen, or a keyboard). You can turn on some music if that helps your creativity flow, but that is purely a matter of personal preference.
What you will need to do is write down a list. A very, very long list. It is imperative that you keep writing until you have a lot of names written down. It is also crucial that you do not take a break from writing these names down. Do not check whether a domain name is available, and do not stop to consider whether a name is a good one. Just write down names.
Here is what you will need to do:
Step #1: Write down your keywords
Write down a list of “keywords” which apply to your website. For example, if you have a debate forum, then those keywords would be: “Debate, Policy, News, Politics, Washington, etc,”
Step #2: Expand your list of keywords
Find a thesaurus, such as the one from reference.com, and type each of your keywords into the thesaurus. Add any good synonyms to your list of keywords.
Step #3: Write down two word combination names
Start making a second list. This is a list of potential names. Keep writing down possible variations on your keywords until you can’t think of any more. The best way to convey how you should do this is by example. Again, using a debate forum as an example, here is a list of possible names which is right off the top of my head.
Here are a few different formats which you can use in coming up with new items for your list.
(keyword)(place) example: DebateSpot
(keyword)(activity) example: DebateTalk
(verb)(keyword) example: ThinkDebate
(keyword)(keyword) example: PolicyNews
Step #4: Write down misspellings of keywords.
Start by taking your list of keywords and removing vowels from each. Remember, a vowel is one of: A E I O U. You can also try replacing one vowel with a different vowel, because several of them sound pretty similar when pronounced. Also, if you think of other misspellings, write those too. Here is an example, again using a debate forum. Note that if you don’t like “Web 2.0” names, then you can skip this step.
Most of the names you will come up with will not be good, but if you keep writing for long enough, there will be good names in your list. The key is sorting through them.
Method for Selected a “Good” Website Name From a List of Possibilities
Now that you have a three lists of names, combine them into a single list.Taking the lists I mentioned above, that list would be:
Every item in this long list of names is a potential name, but since brainstorming is a very spontaneous process, 90% of these names will be, to be completely honest, awful. You need to weed out the bad names. This is done by applying your list of name requirements to your long list of possible names. Here is the process which I recommend. You can use a different process, but that is your choice.
1. Use a Bulk Domain Name Availability Checker
This process will usually weed out more than half of your candidates. Go to the Godaddy Bulk Domain Name Availability Checker, type in your really long list of candidates, select which TLDs you are interested in, and press the submit button. The list of domains which Godaddy returns should be your new list of candidates.
2. Go through each existing name and roll it around in your mind.
For each name in your list, stop for a moment and ask yourself: is this a good name? If it’s a bad name, remove it. It comes down to a matter of personal preference.
3. Try Pronouncing each remaining name.
Say the name aloud. If it’s a tongue twister, remove it.
4. For each remaining name, google it.
Google the name to make sure that it’s not being used by someone who is likely to sue you. This is particularly important if you are making a product. Less so for a website.
5. Do a Patent & Trademark Search.
This is not required, but generally a good idea. Go to the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office, or the trademark office in your country (or maybe both!) and type in the name into their trademark search system, both with and without the TLD in it. If you find a trademark, then seriously consider whether using this name is worth the risk of legal action. If not, then the name is good.
The list of names which you have remaining after this process are all good names. You can pick the one which you like the most, or one of them randomly. It doesn’t matter, since each has fit your own personal criteria.
This process of coming up with names is a good one, and will produce a long list of potential names which you can use for your website.