Julie Howell: Making the Most of Domain Names

June 20th, 2014 by

How one UK2 customer uses her domain names…

Julie Howell has always been one step ahead of online trends. She graduated from Brighton University in 1992, just as early adopters were starting to use the World Wide Web. In 1994, when she was working as a librarian at the Royal National Institute for Blind People, she started giving lunchtime demonstrations to her coworkers to explain what the web was and how important it was going to be in the future. In 1997, she became the UK’s first ever web editor in the voluntary sector. In the meantime, in her personal life, she was busy creating one of the UK’s first online social sharing communities – Jooly’s Joint. In her free time, she had taught herself HTML using Internet
Magazine.With this new knowledge she established her new service, which enabled people with MS to find penpals online and communicate with them. This service, which she was running as a hobby, was to attract 60 thousand users and earn her a shelf full of awards, including the Yell UK Web Awards Mirror Readers’ Choice and the New Statesman New Media Award for Best Online Community. In 2008 she was invited by the BSi to produce a British Standard document aimed at advising the UK on the production of accessible web content. These days, she runs her own business as a public speaking and confidence coach. Her first non-fiction book, Get Your Public Speaking Mojo Back Forever , is due to be published in September.


Julie’s Approach to Domain Names

Due to the nature of her business, Julie registers domain names on a regular basis. For example, she has recently registered a domain name to create a website to promote her forthcoming non-fiction book, Get Your Public Speaking Mojo Back Forever. She registered her very first domain name before UK2 even existed and has seen the industry change.

“Back in the day, the average cost of a domain name was around £200,” said Julie. “Then there was a revolution that came about. They became less expensive and you didn’t have to be so picky about which domains you registered.”

Domain Names as Safeguarding

“I’m not the sort of person who has an idea and sits on it for six years. I don’t even sit on it for 6 seconds,” said Julie.

When Julie has a new idea for a project or venture the first thing she does is see if the domain name is available. This comes before she does anything that could be more costly, like registering a new company name or having a logo designed.

“I see registering a domain name as a way of protecting an idea,” said Julie. “I have bought domain names and never used them. It is a small risk to my business to buy a domain name that I later release.”

Safety In Numbers

As best practice, Julie always tries to get the .com version of the web address she wants as well as the .co.uk.

“It’s a global world now,” said Julie. “If I can’t get both I have to rethink the domain name altogether.”

Domain Names for Insight

“If I search for a domain name and find it is taken, I like to find out how they are being used,” said Julie. “It’s useful for competitor analysis. It’s also useful to search for similar domain names to see what they are doing. If the similar domain name is doing a similar thing to you, you run the risk of your customers ending up in the wrong place. People are constantly mistyping. You need to make sure your domain names are distinct from your competitors as possible.”

A Lesson on Findability

Currently, Julie’s main domain name is http://www.juliehowell.co.uk/. But she’s experimented with more playful titles in the past. One lesson she’s learnt along the way is that abstract domain names can make companies harder to find. In 2012 she set up a business called Giraffe Sense Mentoring with a business partner.

“The name came from the idea of mindfulness.” said Julie. “When faced with stressful situations I used to go and sit in the giraffe house at London Zoo. Animals don’t worry. The giraffe sense in the title was all about having the sense of calm of an animal. It was a complicated concept for people to understand. After that I went for more eponymous domain names more often.”

Black Spots

In 2012, Julie learnt one of the hardest lessons of the domain name industry. She registered a website name that accidentally contained two letters of a big brand’s logo – a letter and a number next to each other. Even though Julie’s venture posed no threat to the brand, the company started legal action against her to make the domain name their own.

“When you register a domain name you need to look at it through different eyes,” said Julie. “Are you sure your name isn’t infringing on anything? Look closely at the combinations of letters and numbers to make sure.”

Turning a Domain Name into a Website

Julie choose the web design company Day Media to build her websites for her. There are certain features she has built into her website that are important to her. These include…

1. Links to social media

“My social media is very much organic,” said Julie. “I have a lot of content about the publication of my book on there at the moment. I don’t tend to pre-schedule or plan.”

2. WordPress content management system

“I’m constantly putting content on my website,” said Julie. “Because I have MS, I work when I can, which is through the night quite often, so I need to be able to update the content when I need to. I do a video blog, too, which I film live on my ipad mini.”

3. Events calendar

“My events link through to an external ticket sales site,” says Julie. “It works out more cost effective than an e commerce section of the site for me.”

To make the most of your own domain names, visit the UK2 website.

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