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Birthplace of the World Wide Web CERN Launches home.cern

Tony Kirsch

As many internet industry participants would be aware, the development of the World Wide Web is attributed to a project team at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, commonly known as CERN.

CERN, one of the world's largest and most respected centres for scientific research, is a leader in technological development and the furthering of our collective understanding of science and technology.

I think it's incredibly fitting to see the birthplace of the World Wide Web join the latest evolution of Internet innovation, launching its new .brand domain name www.home.cern in recent weeks. The introduction of a new TLD is a perfect match for an organisation whose reputation and history are based on a foundation of innovation and disruption.

However, there is another aspect of this rollout that is of interest to those who, like me, are intricately involved in the development of .brands and their strategies.

Like Barclays Bank — whose launch of the .barclays TLD has been one of the most publicised and successful .brand launches to date — CERN has chosen to use the 'home.brand' naming structure for the home page within the .cern extension.

In fact, of the brands delegated so far, already 36 have created a 'home.brand' domain, indicating a strong movement towards using the 'home' label as the global standard for the home page. We've even seen the creation of 'maison.brand' (home in French) by a largely French-speaking organisation.

Understandably this is new territory for major brands, so strategies for rolling out and using .brands will vary between organisations, but it also stands to reason that following a successful example is a good way to gain greater predictability in this process. With the example of www.home.barclays and www.home.cern to follow, this trend shows a degree of standardisation in naming is already beginning to become established — and it will be vital for other .brands to fall in line for the future success of .brands.

Naming structure risks

.brands play a fantastic role in giving brands greater freedom to be creative with their campaign and promotional websites, such as in the case of www.assistmoneypenny.sony and www.somethingincommon.mango. These domains can be innovative, catchy and inventive as brands have the ability to register whatever phrase they wish.

However for the fundamental aspects of a major brand's website (such as contact info and customer portals), getting creative with your domain name registrations can be risky, as the user has to work harder to remember where to find you. Major brands know that user experience is vital to their business — the more seamless and simple it is to access a website, the more likely customers will be to stay, return or make a purchase.

For this reason, establishing standards in the implementation of .brands — for example, the consistent use of 'home.brand' as the primary home page — allows users to develop some familiarity in the process of accessing .brand websites.

To illustrate, initially any user typing www.home.barclays would have been redirected to www.barclays.com as the organisation sought to trial the concept before diving in head-first. Other brands are following this technique — for example, Microsoft has done this with a range of their TLDs such as home.xbox, home.microsoft and home.skype which all forward to their existing .com domains.

However, CERN appear to have dived right in, with www.home.cern already appearing as CERN's primary site and any customer typing in the traditional used www.cern.ch automatically redirected to www.home.cern in the browser.

It will be interesting to see when brands like Microsoft make the switch to their .brand, but in the meanwhile it is positive to see brands already training their visitors that accessing a .brand does work, and will get them to the information they need.

In the long term, if Internet users know that for most brands they can just type in 'home.brand' and find what they need, it will strengthen the value of .brands and allow them to really begin disrupting the search-centric world of digital marketing.

In the meantime, bravo CERN — you are paving the way once more!

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at Neustar
Related topics: New TLDs, Web
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Great article Tony. I agree, educating dot Andre Forrester  –  Jan 13, 2016 8:22 AM PDT

Great article Tony. I agree, educating dot brands about the home.brand use case to create a consistent user experience will be critical to the success of all dot brands.

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