Recently, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names & Numbers, aka ICANN, updated their policy previously known as the IRTP and now known simply as the Transfer Policy. Generally, these policy changes affect what happens any time the given name, organization, or email address associated with a Porkbun customer’s domain is updated; WHOIS privacy is turned on or off; or domains are transferred to another registrar.
The new Transfer Policy will go into effect on December 1, 2016. To comply with these changes, Porkbun is updating its Domain Name Registration Agreement and Terms of Service in a way designed to impact our customers as little as possible.
The new language allows Porkbun and its privacy service, Private by Design LLC, to act as your “Designated Agent” when you use the WHOIS Privacy on/off button in the Domain Management console. In case you haven’t used the feature before, if you click the grey glasses icon in your Domain Management console, WHOIS Privacy is activated, which shields your personal information from being published online. The changes to our policies will allow us to continue to offer this free, “one-click” privacy solution.
Additionally, we have included an explicit opt-out of the 60 day transfer lock imposed by ICANN’s policy following changes to the registered name holder’s information. In the case of removing WHOIS Privacy, for example, registrants are often required to discontinue using privacy prior to an inter-registrar transfer. We believe that locking a domain after WHOIS privacy has been removed may prevent registrants from being able to freely move their domains to the registrar of their choice. Opting out of this lock will not keep you from locking your domain after any such change, as you will still be able to lock/unlock your domain from within Porkbun’s Domain Management console.
Finally, any change to the listed registered name holder’s email, business name, or name found in Porkbun’s “Your Account” area will cause additional emails to be sent to confirm the change. Not responding to such messages will delay the requested changes.
Specific changes to language
In order to accommodate these changes to ICANN’s Transfer Policy while minimally affecting your experience using Porkbun.com to manage your domains, we’ve made the following change to our Domain Name Registration Agreement (DNRA):
You agree that Porkbun has the authority to act as your Designated Agent as defined in ICANN’s Transfer Policy. As your Designated Agent, Porkbun will maintain the right to approve requests to modify registrant information and changes in domain ownership, including the use of Porkbun’s WHOIS privacy service provider. You also expressly agree to opt out of the 60 day inter-registrar transfer lock following any Material Change of registrant information or domain ownership, as defined in ICANN’s Transfer Policy.
Private by Design LLC’s Terms of Service has also been updated to reflect the change:
You agree that Porkbun’s Domain Name Privacy Service [Private by Design] has the authority to act as your Designated Agent as defined in ICANN’s Transfer Policy. As your Designated Agent, Domain Privacy Service [Private by Design] will maintain the right to approve requests to modify registrant information and changes in domain ownership, including enabling and disabling WHOIS privacy. You also expressly agree to opt out of the 60 day inter-registrar transfer lock following any Material Change of registrant information or domain ownership, as defined in ICANN’s Transfer Policy.
The benefits of new top-level domains (nTLDs) for companies and individuals that were never able to get a great .com are obvious. Now, they can have unique, short and brandable domain names and, with options like .design, they can add context in a way that .com never could.
Recently, there have been some really exciting developments for .design in particular. While it has already differentiated itself as one of the most successful new TLDs, it now seems to be one of the only extensions that is receiving significant traction with the world’s largest and hottest companies, which are creating sites like facebook.design, airbnb.design, medium.design, and telekom.design (from T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom).
What these sites all have in common is that they create a prominent place for design departments to highlight their work, establish themselves as design leaders and further bolster recruiting efforts. These companies allow their .com sites to focus on their core business and instead facilitate an ancillary discussion: they discuss how design supports and guides their business, who is behind their design, and give back to the wider design community.
Facebook.design has been live for months, but it received its most notable update on Oct. 17 when they released their iOS 10 GUI (Graphic User Interface) available for Photoshop, Sketch and Figma. Facebook was advertising facebook.design in user feeds:
Simultaneous with the newest release, Facebook Designer Jeff Smith wrote about their goals in “Giving Back to the Design Community.” It’s clear that facebook.design is set to be an entirely new engagement point for the company, offering an opportunity to talk directly to a community as a leader that it never could via its primary .com site. As he says:
“Facebook.design is just getting started. Like most things at Facebook, it will be iterated on frequently. But we hope this becomes a place where designers can find great resources to grow as a designer and develop in their career. Ultimately, we hope we can help push our discipline forward.”
More recently, Facebook contributed further to the design community at large with the launch of origami.design, a prototyping tool used by Facebook’s own design team, now available to all.
We see the same thing looking at other sites; airbnb.design promotes Airbnb’s design events at their SF and NYC offices and as well functions as a general blog featuring a wide range of posts from UI designers to the interior designers of their offices. It also includes content that inspires the team artistically and creatively. It is clearly not their primary goal to get more designers booking rentals via airbnb.com. Instead, it allows them to become a vocal and recognized design destination and a top recruiter for designers.
The value of thought leadership and community recognition for recruiting is even more clear at telekom.design. There, T-Mobile, a brand that is associated with the comparatively conventional business of telephones, is giving its design department an exciting edge. The beautiful site clearly conveys that they are a design driven company and introduces you to their impressive team. Naturally, the most prominent option on the site is the “Jobs” tab.
What we see in well-known companies supplementing their .com sites with .design is a powerful statement on how important the collaborative culture of online design is to their success and how it guides their continued growth. The new .design domain allows major companies to cultivate design leadership and inspiring conversations in a way that would have never been possible on their main .com sites.
Since its inception in 1989, SmartShape Design has evolved from a one-man industrial design firm into an international organization. During that evolution, they opened up two offices in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as an office in Shenzhen, China, have grown to 20+ employees and produced a scope of work that has increased in both volume and vertical focus over time.
“Over the past decade we’ve expanded into a full-service consultancy that now offers in-house research facilities and full mechanical engineering capabilities along with our core expertise in industrial design. Additionally, SmartShape’s office in China operates as a contract manufacturer for projects of all shapes and sizes,” said Rachel Miller, SmartShape Design Marketing Coordinator.
With their firm now employing business strategists, program managers, engineers with advanced degrees, and experts in tooling and manufacturing, the company is now, more than ever, a one-stop shop for many prospective product producers. “We are a turn-key operation that allows companies to work with us to flesh out their product ideas from start to finish. We can serve clients who need it all, or for others who only need a portion, we’re able to provide services specific to the needs of any product development lifecycle stage.”
As an industry, industrial design has been heavily affected by technological advancement. Considering that SmartShape has been in the business for close to 27 years, they’ve seen the brunt of it. “Shifts in technology have been one of the biggest changes [in this industry] – seeing technology evolve and making moves internally to adapt and meet the shift has been a fun challenge that we’ve been more than excited to meet head on, always moving to meet new needs.” Rachel told us, “Traditionally, our staff put pen to paper, but it’s all digital now. It will be interesting to see how the industry evolves even more to meet new and emerging design needs, modeling for advanced UX, wearable technology, and the age of the Internet of Things (IoT).”
Given the company’s willingness to adopt early, it should come as no surprise that SmartShape Design was so quick to find value in .design. “One of my colleagues came across a blog or a news story about .design becoming available and we hopped on it right away. We saw that .design was available and within two weeks we were smartshape.design.”
This wasn’t just a domain change, the SmartShape team also opted for smartshape.design email addresses, a company-wide pivot. Why were they prepared to make such a big change? “It is a shorter web address that says what we do and who we are, and conveniently and simply displays as our brand name. It made a lot of sense for us to take that leap,” said Rachel.
SmartShape moved from smartshapedesign.com to smartshape.design to make its domain shorter, more memorable and more “brandable.” These days, all of those qualities are in short supply in the .com namespace. On top of that, company names are almost always taken, illustrated by the fact that smartshape.com is a site for weight loss tools and training.
SmartShape was at the forefront of the .design movement. They got their domain only weeks after it launched on May 12th, 2015. Since then .design has added about 50,000 more registrations and is being used by companies such as Facebook, Medium and Airbnb. Rachel understood the potential from the beginning for a company in SmartShape’s industry, noting, “In the future, when you’re looking for design, the .design extension instead of a .com extension could become the natural place to look on the web.”
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!