The importance of a good email address

Do you think when we started Topmail we considered calling it LameDuck44 instead? That’s right: we didn’t. In fact, the domain topmail.com is one of the most important things we offer as part of our service. A simple, easy to understand domain name that has the word mail in it.

Weird change of topic: ed@topmail.com is available (as of writing today). ed999@topmail.com is not (OK I booked that one to make a point, but there really are lots of edXXX’s@topmail.com).

That means hundreds of people called Ed came to our site, booked an email and chose a more complex variant of the name Ed. Not one of them thought for a moment that they could just have ed@topmail.com. Perhaps that’s because they thought — understandably — all the good ones would be taken.

And that’s pretty much true when you consider all the major, ad-driven email providers. If you want a good email these days you have to either use your own domain (with all the hassle that brings), OR pick one of the premium, ad-free services — like Topmail.com, Fastmail.com or Startmail.com.

Which brings me to my point. The importance of having a good email address. Well, what’s good? I think we can all agree on a few key elements:

  • Short
  • Simple
  • Easy to say in person or on the phone
  • Easy to read without confusion

And these rules apply to both the name and the domain. There’s no point being ed@balllllooooonnnnzzzz.com either.

If your email address is too long, too confusing or too hard to understand in conversation, then people are going to have trouble reaching you (I’m talking to you barney999999@gmail.com…I keep emailing that Barney who got his address 900,000 people before you). In addition the longer, more complex or bizarre your email gets, the more likely others are to view it as spammy when they see it in their inbox.

Your email is going on job applications (science says funny email addresses are bad), dating websites or on the pitch for your new screenplay (top screen writer says funny email addresses are bad).

There are a whole bunch of rules for making a good email address, some of them obvious and some not so obvious. A few include:

  • the letter l and the number 1 can often be visually confused
  • people can find it hard to remember repeating numbers (was it 888 or 8888?)
  • some people mistake underscores for spaces when the email link is underlined
  • although short is usually better, that’s only true if the word or name is easily recognised. So johnsmith@topmail.com might be better than lll@topmail.com
  • an email that says who you are can be an advantage (if that’s what you want!)
  • funny nicknames or rude words are more likely to be treated as spam by the recipient and by some spam blocking systems
  • if the email provider’s domain name is well known or easy to say, then it saves you having to spell it out

Whatever choice you make makes you — so choose wisely.

This article was originally posted on my own site.