Guessing an organization’s website has historically been as easy as appending a “dot-com”, or for us Canadians a “dot-ca”, to their name.  That just changed and you are about to see a big shift in domain names.

Recently the generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) space expanded from just 22 to what will ultimately be over 1400 when the current roll-out is completed around 2017. About 360 of the new gTLDs have been released and expand domain name opportunities to include geographical locations like “dot-berlin”, industry classifications like “dot-plumber”, vernacular terms and even buzzwords like “dot-ninja”, and many more are yet to come. The expansion is being orchistrated and phased in by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international body who oversees the domain space.  They cite the main purpose of the project is to foster the continued growth of the Interent and essentially lay the ground work to make “dot anything” a reality.

“ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind,” stated the President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, Rod Beckstrom.

This ICANN video sums the program up nicely.

As a web design professional, I can immediately see the benefit for site marketing these new names offer.  The speed of the world today in combination with ultra-low attention span of every overly bombarded potential customer underscores the potential impact a domain name shift could mean for even something like off-line adverstising.  For example a small site branding ad inside a city bus or subway car with “”, which could be anything from a law firm to a trendy clothing label, is not as impactful and direct as that same ad with “smithbrothers.plumber” which clears up any doubt as to what the Smith’s do.  Easily remembered by the viewer looking at it through bloodshot eyes early in the morning, following a sleepless night thanks to that dripping faucet.

Curious yet about a new domain opportunity for your business or organization?  Insignis Design can help you navigate the registration and pre-registration process to secure the perfect one (shameless plug). To help you find it and also become familiar with the variations available, check out this list from Wikipedia:

List of generic Top Level Domains

Without a doubt these additional domains will radically change the webscape in the coming months and years. I’ve already seen a few television ads based on new domain names for brands who have started engaging customers that “dot-beer” and similar choices are in fact a real online destination.  How this ultimately impacts the online experience remains to be seen and is without doubt, another angle.