In 1983 Paul Mockapetris gave us DNS. He saved us from needing to remember websites like phone numbers. We started off with five top level domains .gov, .org, .com, .edu, .mil, and .arpa. Five was too many. Now, with, .ai, .gg, .info, .me, .net, .blog, .co, .io, … I need an address book just to keep track.
Some of them I get. Like, .io is a pun of I/O and has become popular among tech startups despite being a region extension . Note, I said I get, I didn’t say I like. It’s annoying when I’ve tried to access a young site and not found the landing page I was expecting, spent too long trying to re-remember the name of the domain, only for me to discover it was just the extension that was wrong.
Others I just don’t get right from the start. Who needs .dad? I tried to understand the demand but I couldn’t even find a single website that uses it (despite the records saying there are over 200+ registrations).
I also don't like being told how great they are. Internet web building experts, no offence to my colleagues, write long prose in the style of pretentious food reviews about how TLDs are like how eyes are to taste, the extension primes the reader with expectations and enhances the quality of the consumption. Yuk.
Some TLDs create security risks
In early 2023 Google launched .foo, .zip, .mov, .nexus, .dad, .phd, .prof, and .esq. They wrote in their announcement, “Zip is a secure domain for tying things together or moving really fast. Hosting content on a .zip domain means speed.”
No Google. .zip means I’ll be questioning whether I’m downloading malware.
The stats don’t particularly favour the new domain names either. .xyz was one of the most highly registered extensions in 2023 but also one of the least renewed. While 60% of new domain registrations are other than .com that still means the vast majority of new sites are choosing .com.
Get used to seeing more
I asked Namecheap their view on all these new extensions and they said,
“I think .com will always be the premier extension, but because there are virtually no more one or two word .com domain names available, other TLDs have become a lot more popular out of necessity. When Namecheap looks at our domain trends data the last five years, we are seeing many more people opting for non .com extensions that reflect their business, like .ai, .shop or .store. Most likely many are doing it because the .com version of their domain name isn’t available, and let’s face it, people are getting more used to seeing non .com domain names. So, like it or not James, get used to seeing more websites with dot whatever domain names.” - Derek Musso, Namecheap Head of PR & Communications
It's hard to argue with a company that manages over 10 million domains and I understand what Derek is saying. It's true that a lot of .com options are just not available anymore; but does that mean that we need to flood the internet with a sea of TLDs? I don't think so.
New TLDs give the internet .life: A counter argument
I thought Owain Williams, our expert website builder, would want to chime in.
My esteemed colleague makes some excellent points. Just like memes, the recent launch of the .meme domain won’t be for everyone.
Sure, it would be great if we could all get the .com version of the website we want. But times are changing, the internet is growing and we can’t just reminisce on the golden .com era. You can’t buy a great .com domain for 2 cents and a packet of bubblegum any more - so something has to change.
In my opinion, the trend for unconventional TLDs offers a few major advantages.
Firstly, and probably most obviously, it opens up boundless domain possibilities. No longer do you have to spend hours scratching your head about which domain to pick, just because someone else already owns [yourbrandname].com.
I mean, pleasebuyourgreatemailsoftware.com just doesn’t have the same ring to it as easyemail.io - right?
The new TLDs also make the internet a more relatable place. It offers website owners an opportunity to get creative with their domain name and build a stronger identity. After all, we aren’t all commercial entities, so why should we have to conform to the .com convention?
I admit, it’s true that more TLDs make it harder to remember websites…but who needs to remember them anyway? I can’t remember the last time I typed a full URL into my browser. Isn’t that what search engines are for?
From .dad to .meme, I welcome the new TLDs and look forward to my browser address bar becoming a more creative (and fun) place.
.Na .st .il .sh .it
It’s a fair point that addresses autofill in our address bars so does it really matter? To this I say, yes. As I'm still going to need to remember which extension is for which site. I could use bookmarks I suppose but this is still admin that I don't want to do.
The point about easymail.io is great too. Until you discover it costs $9,999 to register this domain. These new extensions may look cheap, but they are not.
So, I still think .co is a knock-off .com for those that don’t have the imagination to create a new name for their business. There was nothing bad with .com and there is nothing good about these new extensions. Other than that they give the unimaginative a lower barrier to entry.
Despite this, I’m probably going to be seeing more TLDs and I don’t .li .ke .it
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James has been tinkering around with tech since a young teen. He started by soldering radios together and progressed into programming microcontrollers and building basic websites as a hobby. Professionally, James worked editing technical documentation for tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent before moving over to TechRadar. Over the course of his career he’s edited everything from the UI of the most popular social media apps to the comments in backend code.
Now, James enjoys writing and editing web hosting and eCommerce pages helping people navigate through the options to find the most suitable solution for them.
- Owain WilliamsB2B Editor, Website Builders