There will soon be a new style of UK web address
Nominet, the organisation responsible for administering the names of websites (or, more accurately, “domain names”) in the UK, has announced that it will soon be possible to have web addresses such as www.mysite.uk. At the moment, UK registered domains all have “second level” domain names such as “mysite.org.uk”, “mysite.co.uk”, “mysite.ac.uk” and “mysite.me.uk”.
Why should I care? Well, if you don’t have your own website then it won’t matter at all except that you will see these new names appearing and you may wonder if there’s a bit of the address missing.
If, however, you do have your own website and its address is of the type “mysite.something.uk”, then you may be interested. This is particularly true if you have a business site but are self-employed. In that case, it has always seemed to me to be a bit absurd to have a website address that ends in “.co.uk”. The suffix “.org” only seems appropriate for “organisations” (natch) and “.me.uk” is probably more appropriate for personal websites only. In fact, it was this dilemma that caused me to register my own domain as a “.net” since .net does not have any of these connotations. It is true that “.net” was originally intended for “network operators” but I don’t think that most people associate the two so I have always been happy to be a “.net” rather than anything a UK domain name could offer. So, the possibility of being a “.uk” does seem a good alternative.
So, knowing that a lot of my computer support clients are self-employed professionals, I thought it worth flagging up this development and there’s a specific reason for doing so. Nominet have decided that anyone already owning a UK registered domain will be offerred the chance to register the “.uk” equivalent before anyone else gets a chance to register it. This priority treatment applies to anyone already having any of the current variations of a UK domain. If there is competiton for a particular name (because one person has registered the .co.uk version and another person has registered the .org.uk version, for instance) then the person with the SHORTER version will be given precedence. Don’t ask me who gets precedence if someone owning a “.ac.uk” is in competition with someone owning a “.co.uk” version of the same name. Some items I have read suggest that the owner of “.co.uk” will be given priority, but I couldn’t find confirmation of that on Nominet’s website.
Not only will owners of current variations have priority over securing the “.uk” version, but they will have five years to make up their minds whether they want it. Five years? This seems to me to be an astonishingly long time. Nominet say that they want to give people the chance to renew their stationery and signage etc to include the new address. Surely two years, at most, would be long enough for this.
In my own case, I would like to get my hands on “davidleonard.uk”. I expect some preference as I already own davidleonard.me.uk (which just has a few photos on it at the moment). However, someone else owns davidleonard.co.uk and they may be given preference in registering davidleonard.uk. Fair enough, some precedence has to be established somehow, but it looks as if I might have to wait five years to get hold of it – even assuming the owner of .co.uk doesn’t want it.
So, the important point in this blog is that if you fancy registering a domain with a “.uk” suffix but don’t already own the “.co.uk” equivalent, then I would recommend that you register the “.co.uk” version asap (assuming that it’s available).
In case it occurs to you that there must be some way of “registering an interest” or “joining a queue” for the new names, I’ve already looked but haven’t found one.
Will the new names cause confusion for users? Probably not as most people already owning a variant will probably keep both versions of the address and have them both point at the same website, so it won’t matter which address you type in. I say this with some confidence as no website owner would want to risk losing web traffic over something as trivial as confusion over their website address.
And when will this happen? There’s going to be further news in February and the new addresses are expected to be available in the summer of 2014. Riveting stuff, eh?