Owning Your Web
Day 5 of National Blog Posting Month #NaBloPoMo
In case you missed it, Matthias Ott has a new newsletter. Own Your Web is a lovely, fortnightly newsletter about “about designing, building, creating, and publishing for and on the Web”, which captures a whole bunch of people in its remit: designers, developers, writers, content creators and more. I was pleasantly surprised to get a shoutout in the latest issue for my recent article for MDN on web sustainability!
This issue asks “what is your website’s URL and why did you pick it?”. Although I neglected to answer Matthias’s original question on Mastodon, it got me thinking about this site’s URL and TLD (top-level domain). When I started this blog over four years ago, I picked the name “CSS IRL” because I thought it sounded catchy, and I felt it said something about what I was building: websites that work for real people (mainly SMEs and non-profits), helping fix problems, often finding the best compromise rather than the “ideal” solution. I can’t remember why I hyphenated the domain name. Perhaps “cssirl” was already taken, or I didn’t like the way it looked. I’m pretty okay with the name now, although part of me wonders whether I pigeonholed myself a little bit — since I often write about front end topics other than CSS.
Still, it hasn’t done me any harm. I also can’t help but think the hyphen helped me pick up some stray traffic from css-tricks.com 😅. Not something I considered when I chose it!
As Matthias notes, a lot of people pick their own name as their website URL. I have this for my personal website, which is really just an “about me” page. I quite like having a separate blog, as it means that if one day I go off and make a name for myself in a wildly different field (like...as a drummer in a rock band?) I won’t have a blog with a load of web development content tied to my domain name.
“CSS IRL” also sounds more like a business than a personal name, which can be a good and bad thing. On the one hand, sounding like a business probably does contribute to the steady and increasing flow of traffic I get, and people seem to find it fairly memorable. On the other hand, I get a lot of email spam, mainly from marketing companies wanting to pay me to let them publish (probably AI generated) content on my site!
As for the TLD, “.info” is not a great one. I’m pretty sure I picked it because it was the cheapest option available at the time, and I didn’t expect this blog to have the longevity it has! But as Matthias says:
People will visit your site for what you publish on it, not because you have the most sophisticated URL on the internet.
This is absolutely true. My TLD has never done me any harm!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Own Your Web newletter.
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@michelle Thanks so much for the shout-out, Michelle – and your really interesting post about the considerations behind CSS-IRL.info and your personal site’s URL! ????????- Matthias Ott
@michelle @matthiasott Ever since I started using RSS (years ago) to get notifications about new blog posts from the people that I follow, top-level domains and even entire domains became completely irrelevant to me. Some of my favorite authors, I have no idea what domain names to type to open their websites directly. I would have to search for them on Mastodon/Twitter and click the links to their websites on their profiles.- Šime Vidas
@simevidas @michelle Oh yes, that’s a good point! I rarely type in a URL by hand as well. It’s either RSS, a link shared via social, or search. Another reason to not be too obsessed with finding the “perfect” domain…- Matthias Ott
I've had a go at responding via my website too: https://flamedfury.com/posts/own-your-web-whats-in-a-name/
Thanks for the prompt @michelle :)Own Your Web: What’s in a Name? - fLaMEd