Why we moved to .uk - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

There’s been a lot of speculation about why we decided to move our website from heartinternet.co.uk to heartinternet.uk, so we thought we’d set the record straight with a blog post.

Moving to the new top level .uk extension wasn’t a decision we took lightly…not least because we were at heartinternet.co.uk for almost ten years. Our presales website alone is well over 1,000 pages, plus all the control panels, two lots of backend sites for staff, various systems, and plenty of references and images with ‘HeartInternet.co.uk’ on them on top of that. Then there’s myriad physical advertising and promotional materials we have, from banners to business cards. When the decision was made, it was obvious it was going to require a substantial contribution from pretty much every team in the company. And that was just for the first stage of the move. It took a long time for us to finalise the transition and iron out the bugs. Then there was the clean-up process, including sitemap changes, contacting people to update links, and of course contacting customers and promoting the new change…

But if we can do it, anyone can.

It’s no secret that not everyone in the industry was in agreement when Nominet announced the idea of a new top level .uk domain. You can never please all of the people all of the time, and despite Nominet being a not-for-profit organisation, some people immediately labelled it a money-making exercise (looking at the other side of it, there’s no way this perception could have been avoided short of offering them for free, which they decided against in the interests of being fair to registrants and to enable further investment in the UK space).

Opening doors

Over time, the cost of UK domains has actually been decreasing significantly. In 1999, a .co.uk domain cost you £80 + VAT for 2 years (approximately £108 today, factoring in inflation). Today, a .co.uk domain costs you £5.98 + VAT for the same period. Not only has this benefited individuals and businesses alike, it’s had a huge impact on the growth of the namespace. It’s also greatly lowered the cost of entry into the market and reduced potential overheads even further, ensuring that a domain and website are affordable for everyone.

Considering the pace at which the web moves generally, if profit was at the heart of it, a lot more would have been done to create and milk a whole herd of cash cows prior to now. Domain registration prices would have increased rather than decreased. As it stands, the UK offers some of the cheapest ccTLDs in the world. When you then also factor in the higher costs of living generally compared to most other countries, the price of flagship UK domains reflects even better value for money.  A UK domain name is a long-term investment that has a very high chance of increasing in secondary market value (especially so when coupled with a website), so £5.99 is peanuts compared to that depreciating smartphone you’re replacing every year or two.

So what, in our opinion, is the most important factor in releasing .uk?

Nominet has helped the UK namespace grow into one of the world’s biggest and best. .co.uk is one of the most popular ccTLDs sold globally. It’s second only to Germany’s .de, a country with 20% more people and a culture of registering the same .de name in both English and German variants.

The last thing anyone wants is for the UK space to stagnate. Compared to every other subsection of the web industry, both nationally and globally, very little has changed for UK domains since the release of .co.uk in 1985. In Internet terms, that’s forever. If you froze everything at that point, Margaret Thatcher would be PM, your playlist would start with The Power of Love and your iMac would look something like this:

(Image credit)

 ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ has never been less true. Take anything in the world, and you can immediately list multiple ways it could be improved. This is one of the reasons we value your feedback and have implemented hundreds of customer suggestions over the years, and why everything we do is an ongoing project, with myriad updates and additions to ensure we stay ahead of the game.

The only way to survive in the web industry is to keep evolving. Anything that stays the same for too long risks being replaced or overtaken by a competitor, and this is true for any business at any level.

Proud to be .uk

We’d feel a bit hypocritical talking about how proud we are if we weren’t practising what we preach. But even following through on our core beliefs we can’t win; some people have questioned whether or not our move to .uk was a sales gimmick. We want to clarify that it wasn’t. For the amount of work required, it wouldn’t even have been close to being commercially viable. There would also have been no reason to move our backend websites and staff assets to .uk, whereas not doing this would have lessened the work substantially.

Growing the UK webspace

The release of .uk gives us, as a nation, an even stronger foothold in the international marketplace. The vast majority of countries have a direct top level ccTLD, which means that users outside the UK are naturally inclined to type website.uk because they’re used to typing .de or .fr or .ca. As an addition, rather than a replacement, it gives people in the UK more options in line with international ccTLDs. Furthermore, the length and depth of discussions around .uk even before its release meant it got a huge amount of publicity at every stage, and this has helped raise awareness and contributed to growth in the UK web economy, both at home and abroad.

It will take time for .uk to establish its roots, and it’s not realistic to compare it to .co.uk (not least because a couple of months is incomparable to the 28 years .co.uk has been around). But Nominet has a strong track record, and Google’s trust in .uk has already been shown; our move had little to no impact on search rankings.

A few more reasons

Spring clean motivation

A change is as good as a rest, and moving to .uk gave us the opportunity to rethink our content and its presentation, as well as do a big spring clean of plenty of old site files that were no longer needed. Website changes always provide great motivation, and we’re not the only ones who took advantage of a chance to freshen up.

Short and sweet

It may only be three characters different, but it quickly adds up if you’re a mobile user visiting multiple times a day. Fewer characters mean less chance of typos, and if you have ‘uk’ in your domain name already, it gives you a chance to make it even shorter.

Authority

Moving to .uk helps reflect how forward-thinking you are, especially if you’re a Reseller or a go-to source for technology or web resources of any kind.

More opportunities

.uk provides plenty of options for playful, creative domain names. For example, we’ve registered hostedinthe.uk. If you hold a qualifying domain and have the rights to the .uk version of an existing UK domain, you could use it for a mobile version of your existing site or as a short URL.

We’ll always support the whole .uk family

We like to be pioneers, and we’re humbled by the number of people who look to us for advice and best practice. Whilst we’re not perfect, we like to think we make good, educated decisions the vast majority of the time – and this is reflected in the number of innovations and features our competitors copy, as well as the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers.

But at the same time, you still have the freedom to make your own choice. We’re still selling .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk domain names, and we will continue to support them. We’re also keeping our other domains, including .co.uk – it makes sense to as a business – but we also respect the fact that Nominet is allowing websites to not be tied to a specific commercial/non-profit/personal signal by extension. Not all websites are that simply categorised; different websites have different requirements, and that’s why we’re committed to increasing the range of domain extensions we offer.

.uk is a new addition to an incredibly successful legacy that is something to celebrate whether you have a week old personal blog or a multi-million pound business. It’s already shown to have opened up new opportunities, and is a welcome sign of growth in the backbone one of the world’s biggest web economies. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming .uk and seeing it as a positive for our industry as a whole even if you’re not planning to make the move yourself.

(Original image header credit)

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  • Andrew

    13/08/2014

    You missed the bit off where you hope all Heart Internet customers will buy two .uk names instead of one… You couldn’t justify the internal cost of doing it otherwise and it is a calculated risk vs benefit.

    However well done on being first and let’s hope a few more brands follow suit – I’ve not yet seen any of the biggest brands use their .uk’s yet.

     
  • Jenni

    13/08/2014

    Hi Andrew,

    The reason behind this post was to answer the questions we’ve been asked about why we moved (on Twitter, the blog, in person, and on the phone…as you can imagine those are quite challenging mediums to convey all this information!). We also made the conscious decision not to link to any commercial pages or make any sales pitches within the post.

    As I say above, it’s completely up to the individual person what they choose to do. We’ve always centred our business around hosting rather than domain names, and we don’t make much on them (especially .co.uks).

    Thanks, I imagine it’s because they have a lot of red tape to get through and challenges due to the size and work required. Non-technology-based businesses are also traditionally slower to adapt to developments within the web industry, so it will take time.

    Hope that clears a few things up!

    Jenni

     
  • Demetri

    14/08/2014

    When were we, the customers, notified that this change was going to happen? I can’t find anything in my email warning me that I was going to have to take any action such change my KeyChain information.

    I’m with Andrew on this, congratulations but your conscious decision not to the commercial elephant in the room is in itself a bit cynical, of course you expect to make money out of promoting the .uk domain as commercial organisation don’t really have much option but to take it on along with their .co.uk

    So even though of course it is up to the individual to choose what they want to do, thank you for that privilege, there really isn’t much choice and you of course will benefit.

    It’s good business, so there’s no reason to be so coy or embarrassed about admitting it.

     
  • Jenni

    14/08/2014

    Hi Demetri,

    We mentioned it a couple of times publically that we were making the switch, but we opted for a soft launch for the actual event itself. Although we tested everything thoroughly on our staging and development platforms, there was no way of knowing 100% if everything was going to be working on our live systems straight away, and we were aware that there was a possibility of us reverting back.

    However, we could have sent an email in advance saying it was happening ‘at some point soon’, and this is definitely something we’ll add to our list if we’re ever in the same position again. There was just so much going on that it wasn’t something that appeared on our radar, so thanks for your suggestion 🙂

    As I said in Andrew’s comment, this post aimed to answer the questions about why we as a company decided to move to .uk (as a standalone decision). The commercial aspect is a very different topic. Yes, we will make some money from it, but we don’t personally believe that’s the biggest benefit here, which is what this blog post discusses.

    Obviously if UK domains were still at the 1999 price of £80 + VAT for two years, we’d all be booking Caribbean cruises! The truth is that the UK namespace is very affordable; in most areas of the UK a couple of pints costs more than a year’s domain registration. We do see the commercial aspect as a benefit, as you so rightly point out, but even if we didn’t sell domain names at all, we’d still have moved. Perhaps we need to write another blog post on the commercial aspect.

    Thanks,

    Jenni

     
  • Patrick

    18/08/2014

    Would have been nice if you’d told us – my LastPass threw a massive headfit when I tried to log in and at first I couldn’t see why.

    just now I’ve discovered you’re going to expire email passwords on re-seller accounts regularly – I found out by accident because nobody told us. This is not the first time you have made changes to our accounts – which have knock on effects for our business, and didn’t bother telling anyone. You have all our email addresses – why not communicate with us?

    So instead of writing happy clappy blog posts justifying your latest marketing decision, why don’t you try communicating directly with your customers?

    Not happy.

     
  • Jenni

    19/08/2014

    Hi Patrick,

    We sent out an email informing all customers of our move to .uk when it happened.

    We have no plans to expire email passwords on reseller accounts regularly. The control panel message is just a reminder notification to help people stay on top of password changes for extra security.

    Hope that clears things up.

    Jenni

     

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