Five Reasons Domains Are Still Important

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This post, including the title, is my reaction to a blog post from Evan Williams, titled, Five Reasons Domains Are Getting Less Important.

Ironically, I agree with everything he writes, except one: the title. So this isn’t a negative reaction, or even a disagreement with what he writes. Just that title.

He should have titled it, “Google’s secret plan to kill domain names” as, in a clever “wink-wink, how can I say something without really saying it, throw-away line, he writes: “Note to self: Start a conspiracy about that.” Note to Ev: If you’re the creator of Twitter and Blogger.com and former Googler, you get lots of tea-leaf-studiers and conspiracy-theorists analysis when he you say something like that.

But I digress. Back to the non-conspiracy starting parts of his post.

He writes, “While I’m still a sucker for a clean .com, it does seem less important, and it will continue to become less important, for at least five reasons.”

His reasons are (and you need to click over to his blog to read his explanations):

1. Google (is how we get to lots of sites)
2. Auto-complete address bars (guess what you’re typing in, anyway)
3. Mobile web browsers and hidden address bars
4. Apps
5. Alternative success stories for non .com domains

The top four reasons are certainly factual, nothing to disagree there. The fifth reason is sort of off-topic because the post was about “domain names” and not .com domain names, but still, no question what he says is a fact.

I even agree completely with his Conclusion:

“Names are more important than domain names. While a good .com name is still worth a lot, it’s not as crucial to success on the internet as it used to be. And the forces that have made it less important will continue to make it less important over time (especially the mobile-related ones). I’d still opt (and pay up) for a nice, clean .com if I could get one, but I wouldn’t consider it a must have. Product and brand names, on the other hand, are just as important as ever (or more so in an increasingly crowded internet). Too many startups have suffered a stupid name to get the domain that fit. Hopefully, entrepreneurs will feel less pressure to do that as the world becomes more auto-complete/app/mobile driven and less-dot-com biased.”

What I don’t agree with is that title.

Those five points don’t add up to domains not being very important.

Here’s what I mean.

I often forget my wife’s phone number because I have it on speed dial, but does that mean she doesn’t need a phone number? What about all those people who don’t have her on speed dial?

If I sold flowers and I couldn’t get 1-800-FlOWERS, should I not get a phone number? No, having a phone number would be very important. Even if, say, 80% of my business came online, wouldn’t I still want as good and memorable a phone number as possible for the 20% who want to call me.

Like I said, I agree with everything Ev says — I think things are heading that way (however, much slower than those of us who use technology on the edge think).

So, I’ve decided to list (without much explanation) five reasons domains are still very important — non-controversial reasons that, we can all agree on (except Google), but that argue why we don’t want domains to go away — or, indeed, why they won’t.

1. A domain name provides you with control over your identity and destiny (not like pointing people to your Twitter account)

2. Domain names can be adapted to provide all sorts of marketing and administrative gateways to your business, like, for example: business.twitter.com or blog.twitter.com or status.twitter.com. And just think, as great as Twitter is, using a domain name allows Twitter to use three different platforms (including Blogger.com, which Ev created), to communicate with users who think they are going to the same place.

3. Auto-filled address bars won’t send you to blog.twitter.com unless you visit blog.twitter.com a lot.

4. Apps need domain names if you want to sell plush toys like Angry Birds does.)

5. When domains are dead, the biggest winner is Google (although Twitter and Facebook could come in a close second and third