What is in a domain name?

whatthehell

Hmmm… If I paid $2000, I COULD get “whatthehell.org”

A tiny bit of back story:

As any designer knows, a hard bid project will keep you on your toes.

When a project goes out to bid, hundreds of subcontractors crawl all over your drawings, trying to find the sticking points.  It’s easy to understand why: in a hard bid project, everyone has to give a stipulated sum which is based solely on the information they are given – that means as a subcontractor in particular, you have to cover yourself, as general contractors hold you liable for your price to the penny “based on drawings and specifications.”

So there were a few things I learned from my recent experience.  One had to do with publishing logistics, the other with referencing – I’m moving a lot of project specific information to the specifications (if you don’t’ know what I mean, it doesn’t really matter for this post, anyway).  Basically, if you have a small hang up, you will get dozens of calls about it.  Next time around, it won’t happen.  However, an unexpected one was my domain name.

I have dealt with this before.  With my old setup, I was an architect inside a construction company.  For insurance reasons, we had to have a completely differently named LLC.  The name wasn’t supposed to see the light of day, but with a big project, it came to light.  Then, it needed a domain name.  Nobody thought it would be so difficult, but… The name was 18 characters long, contained three Ls, a V, a “gng,” and included a Nordic word that no one knew how to spell.

Never again, I thought.

So, off with the new name.  Greenlight was a placeholder during my business plan development, but I decided I liked it more and more – so I finally committed to it.  When it came to coming up with a domain name, I wanted something short and to the point.  The term “Greenlight” shows up in a lot of domain names, and is kind of long – I wasn’t going to go with something like greenlightdevelopmentandarchitecture.com.  I wanted something short and simple.  So, I went with the shortest thing I could come up with – gldevco.com .  I had seen “devco” used repeatedly with development companies, so I thought this would be pretty self-explanatory.  When I pitched it to others, they weren’t so sure… and I didn’t listen.

Gldevco.  Makes sense to me, should make sense to others, right?

Ah, the idiotic words of an architect.

Fast forward to my new company’s first project which had literally hundreds of eyes on it.   As an experiment, information which only a subcontractor would be interested in was posted on my website.  The link and information was in a section called “instruction to bidders.”  Although the information is there, I got a bagillion calls (something I was trying to avoid).  So:

Lesson 1: put my website ALL OVER THE PLACE.  Easy enough.

Lesson 2: MY DOMAIN LOGIC MAKES SENSE TO NO ONE.

Call after call was bogged down with “now, what again? Can you repeat that?”  Describing my logic didn’t help.  If I said what it was all short for, they would ask: “so the website is greenlighdevelopmentcompany?”

Maybe the longer one would have been better, I don’t know.  I just didn’t want anyone (me) to have to write that out.  Pair that with talking to people on their cell phones with the letters D, E, V, and C adjacent to one another.  They all sound like EEE  EEE EEE and EEE!  Something else I didn’t see coming.

So after all of that was over, I turned to looking for other domains.  Something simple.  Oh, yes, please – simple.  And a word that I could say without spelling it out.

I didn’t really want to, but I resorted to an alternate top level domain (yes, you have to learn crap terms like that as an entrepreneur), meaning giving up on .com (although I will keep my current one).  I kind of like it, though, and at least my CURRENT logic tells me that I can call this one out over the phone and people will understand me:

GREENLIGHT.COMPANY

I kind of feel like I overpaid for it, but 50 calls with the same frustration will do that to you.  I figure I can yell that over cell phone interference in a crowded airport with the PA blaring and the recipient will be able to understand.  Will it work?  The only thing I can do is try it out.  Fortunately it’s easy to make these adjustments now, versus after some significant growth.  An old employer of mine had a .biz, which I didn’t like, but the 14 character domain before the .biz was a lot harder to cope with.  This new one simply forwards to my current .com website, but I figure I’ll do a full rollover soon – after some “in the field” experience with it.

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