Think Before the At-Sign

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 06:47 AM with 6 comments

So you picked the perfect domain name for yourself or your business and you’re ready to apply it to your new Web site. That’s it, right? Wrong. People often don’t think about email addresses for their business or themselves ahead of time, and a little forethought will help in managing your business and the image it presents.

First of all, if you have a domain name, use it for your email – don’t use an address of your Internet provider. By doing so you have the right side of the at-sign in place, but what about the left-side, the email name? First recall that there is a difference between an email mailbox and an alias, and think about which is which after you come up with the names.

There are two types of email names – people and roles, and in this post I will talk about people. You will want a naming standard for how people’s names will be structured. In thinking of how names will be used, take in mind the current size of the business, anticipated size about a year from now, multiple people with the same name and how formal you want to be.

If it’s just you and you want to be personal, then using just first name is fine. So if your name is Mike, then using “mike” as the email address is fine. But what if you have another Mike? And what if their last name starts with the same few letters or even is the same? You may want to opt for something like “mikem” or “mikelastname” or “mike.q.lastname.” As for formality, this will drive whether you want to use “Mike” or “Michael” or just a first name and initial or a first and last name. Some people may want their choice on this – for example, I am “Mike” not “Michael” as the latter name is used only when someone is yelling at me!

Note that in the email names I have used a period – it or an underscore are the only punctuation you can use in an email name.

Next I will talk about what to keep in mind regarding roles, and how they can be used in conjunction with or in place of people’s names.

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