At its core use, think of a domain as the address to your digital real estate. Just like when you open up your GPS and punch in an address, you open up your browser and punch in a domain to get to a specific place. What’s nice about a domain is that there’s no driving or traffic – just a few seconds of internet loading and you’re there!
Technically speaking, a domain is comprised of three levels. The Top Level Domain (TLD), which is also known as the “extension”, indicates the website’s purpose. For example “.com” is short for commercial and indicates business purposes while “.org” is short for organization and indicates community or non profit purposes.
The second tier of a domain is the website’s individuality or name. This part of the domain should ideally be identical, if not very close, to your brand name. It’s been proven that web users become confused and even untrusting of a site if there is discrepancy in this tier. For example when you go to Paypal.com you expect it to be the site of international financial servicer Paypal. If you’re asked to do a transaction or provide financial information and notice your browser says GoPaypal.com, you’d hesitate. Further, not all users will necessarily take the time to look up a company’s site. They tend to simply punch in the name followed by .com and if you think about it, that domain can just as easily be anything else. For instance it could be someone’s personal finance blog, which would be major loss of brand recognition and traffic for Paypal. You want to make sure it’s as intuitive and simple as possible for your audience to find you.
The third tier of the domain is a URL prefix (ie. “www.”) which is mainly background information for your browser. Including it within the domain is unnecessary and can actually be distracting. Try opening your browser and typing in brandbucket.com and then www.brandbucket.com – which one is easier and more memorable? And they both get you to the exact same place.