Choosing a great domain name is a vital part of starting a successful web site. But sometimes it seems like all of the good ones are taken. Here are five useful tools to lead your search to a happy conclusion.
Nameboy Domain Name Generator is the industry standard of domain name suggestion. Simply give it a primary word, an optional secondary word and click Go. You’ll quickly have several pages of possibilities using your desired keyword(s) in various configurations, adding common prefixes and suffixes, as well as numerous compound words you might never have thought of. Availability is shown for the top six TLDs (Top Level Domains), and when you see something you like, you can click through and grab it immediately. Highly recommended.
Domai.nr is an interesting new tool which specializes in finding and checking the availability of “domain hacks”. Domain hacks are the unusual uses of sometimes exotic country code TLDs to hack together meaningful words and phrases. The best-known example is the highly successful del.icio.us, but the possibilities are many: how about chi.mp? Or cr.yp.to?
If you’re really desperate, these can be combined with subdirectories to make even more words possible. For example, since my name Jason is taken in every top-level configuration, perhaps I’d consider buying ja.so and putting up ja.so/n?
OK, it’s a stretch. But Domai.nr is fun to play with, and if nothing else, it may give you some ideas. The site is built with AJAX, so you receive instant, auto-complete gratification as you type.
Caveats: country codes come with varying prices, rules and in some cases residency restrictions. Also, Domainr only tells you that a domain might be available – the negative side of instant gratification is questionable accuracy. Domainr provides links through to the registrars so you can check for yourself.
Domainsbot is almost a combination of Nameboy and Domai.nr, in that it provides instant feedback via AJAX and gives suggestions like NameBoy. It provides a higher quantity (though generally lesser quality) of choices, and is a good back-up source when the others don’t come through. It isn’t reliable for domain availability information, so always verify this yourself with another registrar. Also, if it doesn’t recognize a word, it will sometimes think you’re asking for Italian or German, which grows old very quickly.
Bustaname is another combination of these concepts; it uses quick (though unreliable) AJAX availability checking, but adds another interesting twist. Instead of a list of standard English prefixes and suffixes, you provide your own list. It takes a little more brain power and a lot more time, but you can come up with some solid names – in fact, this is where I came up with the name of this site.
Caveats: Bustaname is easily overwhelmed when your search returns too many choices, and frequently chokes on its own features. Start with fewer options checked, and slowly add them. The domain availability checker is so inaccurate as to be useless.