Until last year, domain names could only be created using Latin characters a-z and numbers 1-9. This excluded accented characters and scripts such as Arabic, Chinese and Korean. In 2010, the use of non-Latin scripts in domain names was enabled, limited at first to the use of the country’s name in the official language.
Just how important is it to have domain names in various languages? We have previously discussed the importance of translating a website (obviously something we believe in!) in order to reach a wider audience, and surely domain names are an extension of that. Do Arabic speakers trust sites with domain names ending in .com or .co.uk? According to recent reports by the BBC, whilst some argue that domain names are becoming less important, given the ever-increasing popularity of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, others believe a good domain name is a sign of the importance and standing of a website. If potential visitors are discouraged from visiting a site that is only available in another language, surely the same applies to domain names?
It is just recently, a year after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers introduced the use of non-Latin alphabets in domain names, that an effect is being noticed. George Victor, from the Egyptian National Telecom Regulatory Authority, commented that this progress “is a great step that will open new horizons for many e-services in Egypt, and it will have its direct impact, enlarging the number of online users”. Given that the internet is an incredible tool in terms of international communication, providing a voice for many all over the world, the fact that introducing additional domain names widens the number of users is surely a positive step. In the same way that users are less likely to use a website, particularly to purchase a product or service, if it is not available in their native language, they are more likely to use it if the domain name is recognisable and understandable. Not only can this latest development attract more users, it also minimises miscommunication through incorrect translations.
With the recent introduction of customised suffixes (.bbc and .starbucks, to name but a few) and the use of non-Latin languages (including Thai and Tamil), the sky really is the limit for domain names!
20 July 2011 08:46