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Does your Domain Name Pass the Radio Test?

We’ve written before about the “radio test” for domain names and the problems you can have if you adopt a domain name that people can’t get right.
But how do you actually check if your domain passes this test? Here’s a guide to make sure you choose a domain name that people can spell.

What’s the Radio Test?

The radio test for a domain name checks if people can spell a domain name when they hear it. They need to be able to type in your domain in order to visit your website, so it’s critical that your name is memorable and easy-to-spell.
The term “radio test” gets its origin from hearing a domain name on the radio. You might be asking, “Does anyone listen to the radio anymore?”
That’s a good question, but think of the radio test as more than just the radio. Think about:

    • If you tell someone about your new site while you’re at a coffee shop
    • Word-of-mouth referrals to your web address
    • Talking about your website on a podcast
  • Giving someone your email address (that contains your domain name) over the phone

In all of these cases, if someone can’t easily spell your domain name it can result in lost traffic or misdirected emails.

The First Tester: You!

Before you begin testing your domain name on other people you need to do a quick test yourself. Ask yourself, “If I heard this domain name, would I be able to spell it?”
Think about any words that might sound similar. Words starting with B, P, D and T can sometimes get confused when someone is speaking quickly. Also make sure there are no homophones that could confuse people (two words that sound the same, like new and knew, or two and too).
In many cases you can cross domain ideas off your list just by thinking about it yourself. Even though they’re popular with startups, the truth is that domains with cute spellings that leave out vowels definitely don’t pass the radio test. Such domains can cause a lot of frustration for your customers, which translates to problems for your company.


Once a domain name passes your personal review, it’s time to get opinions from people who have never heard it before. Here’s how to do this.

    • Pick up the phone.
      Call at least five friends, relatives or other people you trust. Tell them you’re thinking about starting a website called (your domain name) and ask them to repeat it back to you. Then, ask them if they can spell it. It’s best to talk to people who aren’t aware of the context of your new business.
    • Send a voice text.
      Record the name and send the recording to five friends via a voice text. Ask them to respond to your text by typing out the domain name.
  • Test in person.
    Ask people in person to spell the domain name. This is easy if you’re in a coworking space or office environment. If not, meet up with some friends and ask them.

If everyone in these groups can spell your domain name then you probably have a winner. But there’s one more thing to test…

A Couple of Final Checks

Can people pronounce your domain if they see it in print?
If people can’t pronounce it when they read it, then you might run into the radio test problem when they try to tell a friend about the domain name.
This is one of the reasons SumoMe.com paid $1.5 million to change their name to Sumo.com. People were mispronouncing SumoMe.com.
While you’re at it, make sure your domain doesn’t accidentally spell something entirely different when the words are mashed together. Check out some of the biggest domain mistakes ever.
If your domain passes all of the verbal tests and people can pronounce it when they see it in print, then you have a winner!
Once you have your perfect domain name in mind, be sure to head over to Namecheap.com and register your domain today!

Andrew Allemann is editor of Domain Name Wire, the longest-running blog covering the business of domain names. Domain Name Wire has covered the business of domain name investing for over ten years.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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