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Perception of non .com domain names?

Started by hix, August 15, 2005, 10:14:21 PM

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I want to set up a website to sell RPG pdfs. Now, the .com domain name I want seems to have been registered*.

So I'm wondering if international customers are less likely to do business with a site that has a .net or domain name. Are they perceived negatively?

I realise this is skirting dangerously close to a poll of peoples' opinions, but honestly I have no idea what a customer in the Northern hemisphere would think of a website - so I'd appreciate any insight.

* I'll be trying to talk to whoever's done that.

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs


I suspect that the biggest problem with a suffix would be that it's going to stick in people's minds less, due to being unusual. Maybe also an issue (although less so) with .net

On the other hand, you'll presumably be emphasizing the URL in all your publicity material anyhow. So losing a few hits to 'can't quite remember the URL' may not be a big deal.

Josh Roby

The .net is lots simpler than  I for one don't make any distinction between the various three-letter suffixes, but I do find the two-by-two versions cumbersome.  Me and my Americanism.
On Sale: Full Light, Full Steam and Sons of Liberty | Developing: Agora | My Blog

Adam Dray

My perception of is that I will have a hard time buying a product off the site because of currency limitations. I'm happy to be wrong, but I might skip a site based on that prejudice. A NZ top-level domain won't stop me from going to a site to learn about a game though or to download a free PDF. I don't know what you're planning..

I have no problem going to a .net to buy a product, and it's easy to remember, but people might accidentally go to the .com version of "your domain."  Can you register a modified version of the .com?
Adam Dray /
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at 7777


I don't think I'd buy anything direct from New Zealand regardless of the domain name, just because of the shipping.

However, the name wouldn't stop me from visiting the site and possibly being interested.  So if you had a site and a US fulfillment method, you'd be pretty well off in my mind and would be as likely to get an order from me as anyone.

Still, there is value to a .com domain name.  If I want to find a company on the Internet, my first method is to type in their name followed by a .com.  If that doesn't work, I'll go to a search engine second.  Additionally, if I see an ad with a domain name like, I'll often forget the .net part and assume it was .com.  I'll probably still find the right site eventually, but the .com will get me there faster.  I also see this at work with my domain name.  I occasionally get e-mails intended for (owned by a different company) where one of their clients typed .com instead of .net.

So, my recommendation (the same advice I give to clients I've done web design for) is to find a .com domain name that will be easy to remember and that does not use any hyphens.
Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis

Darren Hill

You asked if international customers would be willing to do business with's. Do you mean non-Americans?
Easily half of the vendors I buy from on-line have addresses, and I would imagine this is not that unusual for people outside the States. If you're selling PDF's, I'd have no hesitation - assuming I liked the look of the product, of course. I'd worry about the cost of shipping for material goods, but I wouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand - I'd look on the site to check out the price - so I'd suggest making that link easy to find.


At the moment I'll only be producing PDFs (therefore no shipping charges). If possible, I suspect I'll charge in US dollars via Paypal.

Thanks for your thoughts though; they've helped me see the blindingly obvious: changing the company name to get a better .com address is also an option.

So currently we have:
1) .com is what people immediately think a web address will be.
2) anything other than a three letter suffix may lead to perceived problems with exchange rates and shipping costs.
3) might be unusual and slightly harder to remember, but it probably won't stop someone visiting it.

Yep, my potential customers would be both American and non-American.  Have you ever had an issue with (2), above?


Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs

Darren Hill

No, I've never had a problem. I order from all the time (I'm in the UK). Other four letter endings wouldn't bother me.
As to exchange rates, paypal or my credit card handle that for me when buying from the US, and I'd expect it would be the same from other countries. I always check what the exchange rate is via an appropriate page like, so I know excatly what price I'm paying.


As a European (France), like Darren, four-letter endings don't bother me at all. In France, such endings are quite common (although there are many .fr or .com);, for instance, is very common, and it doesn't prevent me from buying things from such websites.

When I'm looking for a company on the Internet, the first thing I do (if I'm not sure of the url) is google the name of the company.


A followup question: does the suffix .net will have any connotations that I should be aware of? For instance, I always assumed that it was less ... "business-y" than .com.

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs

Andrew Morris

The .net TLD was originally intended only for ISPs, but that's no longer the case. I still think of it that way, though, and it throws me for a minute when some company that's not at ISP has a .net URL. When I think about it, it does seem slightly less professional than a .com URL.
Download: Unistat

Darren Hill

When I signed up to my current ISP, I remember noticing it had a .net suffix and wondering lazily if that was somehow because it was an internet-related company -  but I didn't care enough to check it out.
I think that the majority of people, who don't care much about how the internet works as long as it does, will pay it very little attention. They might not even notice it isn't .com.
If a high proportion of gamers who buy stuff online really are computer geeks, well, it might make a difference - but then, they would know that the old TLD hierarchies are becoming more fragmented and are guidelines rather than rules, so they probably don't care too much either.