I work with hundreds of freelance designers every day on my blog and online community. And, I have to be honest, it’s scary just how often I hear something like this:
“I want to reach out to new clients, but my site’s just not ready.”
So today, I’d like to offer a few stellar examples of designers using the new .design domain extension to showcase their work. Some of the examples are extremely simple—in a good way—proving you don’t have to spend months redesigning (or designing for the first time) your portfolio site.
After highlighting a few great examples of just what you can do with a quality .design domain, I’ll quickly share some of my best tips for making the most of your design portfolio site.
When you purchase a domain name, you own the keys to your website kingdom. Your domain name tells the world what your website is about, and gives you a brand name. From a technical perspective, you can do a lot of things with your domain name. You can connect your domain name to a website that you’ve built with another web service like Wix or Weebly. You can use it as a re-direct if you own another domain name. You can integrate it into eCommerce shopping platforms so that your customers only see your professionally branded storefront. However, sometimes performing these tasks can be tricky for the novice user. Some registrars don’t make these tasks any less tricky when they make you go through multiple webpages and convoluted instructions to make basic changes. To combat this, we re-engineered our domain management console to make it easier for you to manage your domain names. Read on to get to know the new Porkbun Domain Management Console. Continue reading →
Fresh off his Main Stage presentation at RGD’s Design Thinkers conference, notable designer Stefan Bucher stopped by our booth in the exhibit hall and left as the enthusiastic new owner of both 344.design and DailyMonster.ink.
344.design is now home to the company website for Stefan’s studio, 344 Design, through which he has created designs and illustrations for clients David Hockney, Judd Apatow, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, not to mention album covers for the likes of Sting and Whitney Houston.
So why on Earth would this accomplished designer want a .ink website? And what is Daily Monster?
“It’s always hard to break through when you’re presenting your content online, particularly when so many common sense domain names are already taken. The new domains are a great way to liven things up and grab people’s attention.”
When an idea pops into Stefan Bucher’s head he can’t stop until he somehow makes it real. And so began the Daily Monster project. Each day, he films himself putting a few drops of black ink on a piece of paper, blows it out with compressed air, and creates a new monster character out of the resulting shape. “It’s an exercise in beating procrastination and fear. I’m scared of the white page, and the ink blot makes it so that I’m not starting a drawing, I’m finishing one, which is much more fun!”
Much like the monsters themselves, over its life of 10+ years, Daily Monster has expanded and evolved. The website and it’s videos have spawned a book containing stories about each monster sourced from his fans all over the world, and even an app, the DAILY MONSTER Monster Maker!
In its latest evolution, Stefan re-launched DailyMonster.com as DailyMonster.ink.
“After running DailyMonster as a .com for the first 10 years, having a .ink domain for an ongoing exercise in creating characters from blown ink was just too good of a fit to pass up!” He adds, “It’s always hard to break through when you’re presenting your content online, particularly when so many common sense domain names are already taken. The new domains are a great way to liven things up and grab people’s attention. I love that I now get to use 344.design and dailymonster.ink to show my work!”
More about Stefan’s work here, including the six books he’s authored (so it should come as no surprise, he’s won a D&AD award for book design, too).
Improving SEO with context and a .design domain name
Karen and Dave Rose are the owners of Fraser Valley Website Design, now found at fvwebsite.design. The business has grown considerably as they’ve expanded from SEO to graphic design, photography, drone imaging, car wraps, oh, and they also happened to get married in the process!
If Karen’s path from dairy farmer to SEO guru wasn’t already non-traditional, it seems that the recent switch from a .com domain to a keyword heavy .design name, fvwebsite.design, has created a noticeable uptick in their Google ranking, especially as displayed on Google Maps.
“My mind is always thinking ‘relevance, relevance, relevance’ and the .design domain made perfect sense to me,” said Karen. “I said to Dave, let’s try this domain ‘.design,’ and the website.design part of the domain has just worked out fantastic. The technical benefit I saw was that we moved right up, right away, on the keyword search on ‘graphic design’ and ‘website design’.”
Despite what some media outlets, and Google themselves, have said, the Roses have definitely noticed that their domain has benefited their ranking. Google claims to remain domain agnostic, which is a safe statement coming from a company that applied to run 101 new top-level domains (as part of the post .com era, new options include .design). “Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other TLDs (like .com and .org),” they claimed in an article in Webmaster Central Blog, “keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.”
The fvwebsite.design story isn’t just anecdotal information, this is a report coming from an SEO expert. Karen has been in the SEO business for the past 15 years. That’s pretty much since the birth of SEO. She spent much of that time leading a team of 5 global algorithm analysts for Microsoft through large corporate developments, including the Bing and Yahoo merger. Karen eventually moved on from the Microsoft contract to found Fraser Valley Website Design and has never looked back.
However, their success has not been without its hiccups. In 2012, when Google implemented Penguin (an updated search algorithm) and later versions, Fraser Valley Website Design took a hit. They lost their top placement.
“It was the Penguin algorithm, which was followed up by 3 version updates, the latest one was October 2014 that dropped our ranking due to many issues,” Karen told us, “such as old CMS codes, broken links back to other sites, and content relevancy for SEO metas.”
Something had to change and that change came in the form of a new domain. Tapping her entrepreneurial spirit and her SEO expertise, Karen followed a hunch and moved the company’s domain name from fvwebs.ca to fvwebsite.design.
fvwebsite.design currently retains the top positions for “web design” and “graphic design” within a 80 mile radius of their base of operations (60 miles out of Vancouver, BC).
“It used to be that you’d build a company and then find a domain name,” Dave told us, “Now, you get the domain first and build the company second.” Availability and inventory are some of the great benefits of new TLDs, especially new TLDs with a professional edge, such as .design.
The Rose’s story contradicts previous statements made by Google that adopting a new TLD will neither benefit nor hurt your SEO. While we have a clear counterexample in Fraser Valley Website Design’s SEO success with .design, we can also conclude that a relevant domain will always give your site greater context and make it more clickable. Perhaps the results are due to the fact that the new domain was just more appealing to those searching for local web design help in the B.C. area. Maybe it was this interest that caused their rise to #1 in local search. fvwebsite.design’s story is only one datapoint, but it points to the value of .design for SEO and is part of a larger success story. We look forward to following along and learning from these entrepreneurs and others like them.
Have you experienced an SEO breakthrough with a new TLD? Tell us your story!
“The company was Energi Design. But when I started to think about design I decided to put it into one word, energi.design, and I thought that .design had to come out at some point, so I started searching for it.” – Steve Holmes, energi.design
Steve Holmes is not the typical .designer. He discovered .design a year before it was made available to the public. His diligence paid off. He’s been the proud owner of www.energi.design as soon as the domain was made available, which he now calls “his perfect domain name.”
Energi.design was founded in London in 1994. Since then, the company has moved internationally… twice. The company is now based in Munich, DE. Despite being in business for over twenty years, the company has remained a one-man-show. Despite that, the workload is steadily increasing. The month of August is especially busy, with seven video projects going on at the same time.
Steve has taught in colleges and universities and he has toured around Europe and the USA promoting Adobe After Effects. He has received awards both for his motion graphics and his typography and his client list is, in one word, impressive.
We were able to call in and get a bit of Steve’s time last week. Here’s what we talked about.