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I have already purchased one, and I think it might be too long. The domain name is 27 characters, including ".com". However, most browsers now show suggestions based on previous visits to sites, so they would only have to fully type it one time.

The domain name describes the website more than a shorter one would, and I think this would be good for SEO to use a long name.

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Is the domain name made up of several English words or could it be easily confused? For example, I would rather type webuyanycar.com over uireo.com (random keyboard mash example!) –  Fiona Taylor Gorringe Apr 8 at 14:03
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@CodingKiwi This kinda makes me want to buy "wesellrandomcrapontheinternet.com", which, surprisingly, is not yet taken! I bet nobody would forget that url. ;) –  neminem Apr 8 at 17:26
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"they would only have to fully type it one time" - but the hardest, most unlikely access is precisely the first one! –  Emilio M Bumachar Apr 8 at 18:18
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Suggestion: register a shorter domain name as well and link it to the same site (preferably using DNS records so it's a true alias). This allows search engines to see yourverylongbutdescriptivedomainname.com while printing short-n-cool.com on your business cards. –  CompuChip Apr 9 at 8:34
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@CodingKiwi Don't forget about possible ambiguity: "ExpertsExchange.com or ExpertSexChange.com?" :) –  user11153 Apr 9 at 9:43

8 Answers 8

up vote 31 down vote accepted

While longer than desirable, 27 characters (including .com) is not overly excessive, but yes, long domain names do affect user experience. Some more than others.

'Power users' know how to avoid typing the address if possible.

However,

  • there are going to be some users who don't have a browser with a suggestive omnibox
  • there are going to be users who hunt and peck at the keys and don't even look at the screen until they've typed the address
  • there are going to be users who always type because they prefer the keyboard over the mouse
  • there are going to be mobile device users who never use copy/paste and/or find it extra fiddly to type longer domains
  • urls can often be seen or shared in a way that does not allow copy paste. (Try copy/paste off the side of a bus)

and an often forgotten group of users:

  • admin, support, management and other in-house employees are users too and they will be using the domain on a regular basis when talking, emailing, or networking with those outside the company - spare a thought for them.

It's not like user experience having this binary state of being good or bad or people being affected or not affected.

Users and their experiences always exist along a spectrum.

Ultimately the answer to any question of the form:

Does X affect user experience?

has the answer yes!

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Yup, all true. Case in point - I still get annoyed and misspell it when I type ux.stackexchange, and I've been using this site forever! –  JonW Apr 8 at 14:18
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This is why StackExchange should buy ux.se as a redirect. –  Phoenix Logan Apr 8 at 19:53
    
Does TV legend Alan Alda affect user experience? –  Milo Price Apr 8 at 20:42
    
@MiloPrice Definitely a Yes :) –  Roger Attrill Apr 8 at 21:06

Do long domain names really effect user experience?

Yes, in several ways:

Memory Recall

Long domains are difficult to remember. A shorter one tends to be more memorable. The mind can only recall 4 things at once in its working memory. Even then, the words need to make sense (and not keyboard mash).

Source: http://www.livescience.com/2493-mind-limit-4.html

Ease of Error

Users may have difficulty typing out the domain. If the words are keyboard mash, it will definitely open it up for error but if the domain is made of easy words, the automatic behaviour learned on the keyboard will make up for it.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2594078/Everyones-touch-typist-Technology-addiction-means-average-person-type-72-words-minute-without-looking.html

Ease of Access (Google is not the only way to reach your site)

There's more than 1 way to access your site and SEO is not always the answer. Here are other places which could contain your domain name:

  1. Banner Advertising: There is the debate regarding whether or not the domain name should be included in online advertising as the CTA.
  2. Radio Advertising: Having a domain that's hard to say, will be hard to remember on air.
  3. Print Applications (Business Cards, Brochures, Billboards, Subway Ads, Swag): Including it in print will be difficult to do with long names. It impedes on being able to include the domain in a large readable font as you'll need to struggle with fit. Also, because the user will have to glance back and forth between your print piece and the screen, having it shorter will reduce the number of glances required to type it. See Ease of Error notation above.
  4. Word-of-Mouth: See notation below. My own domain is only 3 letters long so people generally remember it but don't necessarily need to write it down. I've found lots of success just telling people my domain name because they could just type it easily in their mobile browser and check out my work right away.

Big Tips:

(1) Don't: Use dashes, abbreviations or numbers in your domain name.

See note below regarding Dashes

(2) Come up with a catchy name that's easy to remember and captures your business.

Your domain name needs to be relevant to your business. This choice of words also effects your credibility.

(3) You get much more word-of-mouth if it's a name you can easily say without having to spell out.

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219410

The thing you should always remember is that the main keyword in your domain name is not the key for high ranking – it is only one factor among many others. The best solution is to think out an easy, memorable, brand-related and available domain name without having to pay a fortune for it.

Source: http://www.motocms.com/blog/marketing/10-tips-choosing-domain-name/

This question was also already answered here. This post has tons of great supplementary research as well:

Using long domain name which actually explains the site's purpose

According to https://www.quantcast.com/top-sites-1 - the 20 most popular sites on the internet have an average of 6-7 letters in the domain, and many of them are not very descriptive. Sites such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Bing have no description with the name alone, but these names were chosen as the brand.

Re: Dashes / Hyphens in Domain names

Another common question in regards to SEO and readability. I found this in my research:

"One SeoBook member was curious about this and with no other content changes, changed his domain from hyphenated to non-hyphenated and overnight went from 29th to 1st position for his target keyword."

"First we should acknowledge that using a hyphen or not is rarely going to be a massive deciding factor in a website’s performance. It’s a second or third order effect if at all. If your content is good enough you should rank for that. Google is trying to create a level playing field for their users."

"Avoid hyphens. Hyphens detract from credibility and can act as a spam indicator."

Source: http://www.selfassemblysites.com/hyphen-in-a-domain-name-good-or-bad-idea/

Where possible, avoid using hyphens between words. A domain name with hyphens is harder to describe when said aloud. It is commonly accepted that a domain name with multiple words does not include hyphens.

Source: http://www.eps.com.au/related-links/domain-name-tips.php

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Some great ideas here but most sound like PR, not UX. Talking about a car is not driving it. –  Gusdor Apr 9 at 14:52
    
Yes, part of your URL's function is a form of how you market your site but consider that the "user experience" is determined also by the way the user engages with the URL. –  Pdxd Apr 9 at 14:56
    
@Gusdor It also answers the question directly because Pheonix is inquiring about SEO..but the theory of SEO is to get more users to visit the site. I'm reaching outside the box of UX being limited to screen applications to consider the user as the target market. –  Pdxd Apr 9 at 18:15
    
I dunno about the memory points. If I asked somebody, in person, what their web site was, and they said "www.cheapusedelectronics.com", I would be able to remember the phrase "cheap used electronics" far easier than, say, "www.cheapelec.com" (bonus points for the longer version being pronounceable without ambiguity). And if I read it on a passing billboard, for example, I can parse and remember "cheap used electronics" at a glance, but "cheapelec" requires a double-take and some analysis. I think this answer really hit the key point. –  Jason C Apr 9 at 20:23
    
I like your tips, except for avoiding dashes. If you can get the domain name with dashes and without dashes. Dash separating the words makes it much more readable. –  Zan Lynx Apr 9 at 20:40

One thing to remember is the concept of people being able to recall about 7 items (established by George Armitage Miller's work on memory) in their short-term memory. If your name consisted of words like: big, dull, hello, car, house; each of these is ONE item because they connect to something already existing in their mental schema/mind. If it is something not normal, such as:rpa, dwela, etc etc. these are things unfamiliar to them and each letter will count as a unit. So what may intentionally be one word, if irregular then the spelling isn't readily available to them via memory.

Example: quickhouse: 2 items, gfhi-dto: potentially 8 items.

Keep it shorter but also recognizable by the audience you are aiming for, or for people in general.

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+1 "If it is something not normal, such as:rpa, dwela, etc etc. these are things unfamiliar to them and each letter will count as a unit." This is such an important point. It's precisely why, for example, we like to make pronounceable acronyms and mnemonics for things. Length in "memory units" is much more significant than raw length in characters. –  Jason C Apr 9 at 20:24
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Turning single letters into words which take up one memory item is called 'Chunking' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunking_%28psychology%29 –  PhillipW Apr 14 at 14:55

Do long domain names really affect user experience?

Yes. It will be annoying to your visitors. Remember, most people will visit your site on multiple devices, so they have to type that extralongdomainname.com on each device. It could possibly be detrimental to SEO. (Keyword Stuffing)

As a side-note: Be careful with words like "Therapist" which, in a domain name could be confused with "TheRapist".

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My son's preschool has a long url for their website, the full name of their school, seven words mashed together. In theory, that's easy to remember and non-ambiguous, but as a user of their site I hate the domain name and have a hard time remembering it and always find myself asking if it was this slightly shorter version, that other slightly shorter version, or another longer version, and I have to cross my fingers that it will turn up in my url history so I don't have to google it again.

The director can't even remember the domain correctly sometimes and had her business cards printed with the wrong domain name for her email address. Truth be told, I'm not sure the full email address including the domain would have even fit on a single line in a legible font anyway. And then as a parent, it's a hassle when we went to email her and the email bounced and I had to figure out why. Did I mistype it? No? What else could be wrong?

And then when I wanted to read the newsletter from my smartphone while I was on the go? OMG, do you feel the pain yet of typing that super absurdly long url on a smartphone keyboard? Not to mention my mobile browser has this bug that half of the time it doesn't correctly show the url while you are typing or it cuts off and only shows the beginning of the URL so you can't see what you've typed to see if it's correct.

These are great examples of some of the types of bad user experiences that plague long domain names. They are certainly not the only ones. I'd have concerns about whether the URLs will be short enough to be bookmarked without errors, or whether email addresses for the domain might get rejected (or worse silently truncated) by forms if their databases were not well designed with adequate storage space for that field.

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Just curious, but what is the domain name? –  Phoenix Logan Apr 15 at 17:47
    
it is of the format director's family name (1 word) city name (2 words) descriptive words (2) school (1) –  Jessica Brown Apr 15 at 17:55
    
How many characters? –  Phoenix Logan Apr 15 at 23:49
    
looks like it's 26 characters + .com –  Jessica Brown Apr 15 at 23:55

Yes, it does.

At least in the way, that your audience might have problem to remember the address, can mistype it easily etc. That is the branding part of domain name.

But there's a chance you triggered really good keywords and this value might overweight the disadvantages long domain name might have for branding.

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To add to the previous answers I would state that having a shorter domain is in general better because it's easier to grasp in an instant and less likely to be associated with spam or advertising.

Forgetting for a moment remembering a domain or typing error, having a short visual look is important for other reasons...

When a potential customer/viewer/client sees your website be it on a business card or a search result, it automatically is associated with being a bit tacky. longer domains = tacky.

Sure, they might bring extra SEO but if it's your primary gateway to site, best to make it small.

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I too have a long domain made up of easily remembered words. I've decided to register an abbreviated, but still memorable (I hope) version. I'm going to use the shorter one to make type-in traffic easier and also because I will use it as a Twitter handle. I will use a 301 redirect to the longer domain for SEO purposes and to avoid a duplicate content penalty.

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That doesn't really answer the question though. OP isn't asking what they can do about it, they're asking whether a long url is actually a problem. –  JonW Sep 21 at 9:20
    
You're right. So to the question, it is my opinion that a long url is a problem due to difficulty for users typing in (desktop browser, email, mobile and internal users), online and print advertising, and consistency when leveraging across social media. These are the main reasons I'm doing what I'm doing about it. –  Christopher Hansen Sep 22 at 4:26

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