New plugin: Gumroad

Got products to sell? Looking for an audience? Gumroad is your solution.

Gumroad makes it quick and easy to build the perfect online sales presence end to end. Customized landing pages, a handy follow form for interested audience signups to keep up with what you’re doing, customizations like offer codes, rentals, multimedia content to showcase your wares, robust analytics. Gumroad does it all!

You can even tweak your site depending on whether your inventory is physical or digital, and Gumroad supports pre-orders, subscriptions, and memberships to encourage return buyers.

Supercharge your creativity and get going with your online business.

From the web:

Wired: “…it makes the commerce experience dead simple and friction-free for both vendors and buyers. Creators can fill out a simple form and immediately start seeing returns on the treasures sitting on their hard drives.”

Fast Company: “If you make physical objects—onyx earrings, eco-friendly wagons for kids—there are plenty of places, such as eBay or Etsy, to hawk them online. But what if you’re a musician or an author with digital wares and no marketing budget? That’s what three-year-old Gumroad is for. More than 10,000 ­sellers—mostly authors, instructors, and musicians—used Gumroad last year to sell directly to fans, and the service even attracted some big-name acts including Eminem and Bon Jovi, and the publisher Hachette. In addition to selling mixtapes and albums, some artists are using Gumroad to sell physical goods: Eminem sold limited-edition tour merchandise and Bon Jovi offered fans a premium album bundle with an autographed CD, T-shirt, and iPhone case. What’s more remarkable, though, are folks like Kyle T. Webster, an illustrator who has made six figures selling custom Photoshop brush packs starting at $4 a pop. “Empowering creators to sell directly is the best model for them,” says 22-year-old CEO and founder Sahil Lavingia.”

New plugin: Square

The idea behind Square is pretty straight forward: that everyone should be able to accept credit card payments. No matter where you are or what you’re selling.

Personally, I’ve paid for meals, handmade soaps, and cab fare using Square, and it’s super handy. Adding Square to your site enables you to be as mobile as you want to be, securely handling all sorts of payments.

Then when you sit down at your laptop, Square provides sophisticated tools and analytics to let you know how you’re doing, and help you attain new customers.

Square helps make payment processing super simple, which frees you up to build great customer relationships and a more successful business. For your customers, what could be easier than swipe and go?

Whether your business is a salon, bakery, or online craft store, Square has the right kit for you. Learn more!

From the web

Entrepreneur: “That’s why more than 100,000 merchants nationwide sign up with Square each month. The brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square gives small businesses the ability to accept credit and debit card purchases anywhere, anytime via iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone.”

The Next Web: “This continues Square’s path towards becoming a one-stop shop for businesses. It recently introduced inventory tracking with support for Stitch Labs inventory system, Square Capital, a small business financing system, and an update to the Square Dashboard.

The company began as a simple payment solution for anyone willing to purchase the Square Reader hardware. The reader allowed established businesses and individuals to accept credit and debit payments with a low transaction fee.”

The ins and outs of ccTLDs

Given the hundreds of new domain extensions that have been released in the last couple of years, if someone asked you how many types there are, you might assume there were lots.

Surely there’s little similarity among .JP, .ORG, and .COFFEE, right?

In fact, there are only two types of domains: country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

In this article we’ll be looking at what ccTLDs are, and some of their many quirks and interesting stories. We’ll follow that up with the adventures of gTLDs a bit later.

  1. What is a ccTLD?
  2. Many registries, different rules
  3. Risky business
  4. Emoji domain quirks

What is a ccTLD?

Evidence for what types of domain extensions ccTLDs cover is right there in the name: cc = country code. Countries around the world have two-letter ISO country codes.

Those country codes form the domain extensions for ccTLDs, from .AF (Afghanistan) to .ZW (Zimbabwe). There are no two-letter gTLDs. The closest is three letters (like .COM).

Due to their popularity, often as domain hacks, that some ccTLDs represent countries may not have even occurred to you. But .ME (Montenegro), .CO (Colombia), .TV (Tuvalu) and others do, indeed, represent actual places. Even .TO represents the kingdom of Tonga, not the Canadian city of Toronto, though Torontonians have adopted it for their own branding to a degree.

Many registries, different rules

Many of these countries run their own domain registries, like ISNIC in Iceland, CIRA in Canada, and DENIC in Germany. Other registries, like AFNIC in France, manage a portfolio of ccTLDs including several countries or territories under their governance.

One of the most important things to note with ccTLD registries is that they make the rules for their extensions and the domains registered with them. That includes things like pricing, who can register domains with their ccTLD, what information you need to provide, how long registration lasts, if expired domains can be restored, and when expired domains get deleted.

As a result, the rules among different ccTLD registries can differ widely. Most domains get registered for one year at a time, for example, but did you know that .AS and .AU are automatically registered for two?

To register a .CA domain name, you’ll need to have a Canadian address or proof of Canadian trademark. For a number of European ccTLDs, you’ll need an address in the European Union.

For some of those registries the local presence service can be applied, where we arrange a local address at registration (sometimes there is a fee for this), so you don’t actually have to live there. But again, this isn’t the rule for all of them.

.IO domains have a post-expiry grace period (renewable period)of 89 days, but a redemption period (restorable, but more expensive) of only one day. .IM domains can’t be restored at all, and restoring a .MU domain will cost you $1,900USD. Yikes!

Risky business

Some registries are bigger and more established than others. You may notice this in their registration or verification requirements, or simply in how quickly issues can be resolved.

This can also manifest in the stability of domains registered to a particular ccTLD. Sometimes completing .CM registrations can take a little longer. Or if there’s a war the registry might go down entirely for a while, like once happened with .CD.

On the other hand, the Tuvalu Islands were almost wiped off the map by Cyclone Bebe in 2009, but the registry’s still going strong.

People have been nervous about Libya’s .LY before (yep, like bit.ly), too, but their fears have been unfounded. The registry has servers in the US and Netherlands, as well as Libya.

Emoji domain quirks

The ever-popular emoji domains are also interesting. Not all registries support them, but the ones that are most likely to are ccTLD ones like .WS. However, even then it’s not entirely consistent, and there are variations in supported codes, how different browsers “translate” punycode, etc.

We post specific information about this on the registration page for those to try and avoid disappointments.

We get it that all these ins and outs can be confusing. That’s why it’s our job to know the ins and outs for you. If you’re thinking about a ccTLD domain or have questions about one you already have, we’re happy to help. Just let us know.

Getting back to shipping with this shiny new blog

Welcome to our new blog! Before you do anything, take a moment to let it all in.

Whew, ok. Now that you’ve seen it, I feel like we can skip the puffy PR talk (it’s just a blog after all) and get right to the gritty stuff. A lot of big ideas and bigger compromises went into getting this page to where it is today, and here I am to tell the tale.

T-Minus Too Long

The painful fact is that responsive design is a thing; people buy and use things on their mobile devices, and we weren’t adequately prepared for this on-the-go future.

One could argue that domains aren’t bought and managed on mobile devices nearly as often as they are on desktop, so being conservative with development is fine. But not being mobile certainly isn’t good for business – especially not for our customers who would like to register domains on the go. And it’s becoming less ok every day with Google factoring mobile friendliness into their search rankings.

Making a website responsive isn’t just a switch you can flip though – it requires a good deal of planning and development. You have to plan for how elements will look and be interacted with in all the current screen sizes, and you need to be flexible enough to be ready for an unknown future.

A little more than a year ago, Kevin and I, in Phoenix, began to design and organize a new look and structure for the entire site. The overarching goal was to optimize what we have and display it in a way that would make mobile work without sacrificing usability. All the domain extension, plugin, and management pages needed to work without confusion, and that required us to rethink the entire site from the ground up. And we did. Over and over again. By our millionth iteration (only a slight exaggeration), we landed on something we were happy with.

But the realities of melding a new site with our current platform proved to be a real chore. We’re more than just a blog or bare bones e-commerce outfit. So changing everything at once could potentially have taken the better part of a year (or more) given the size of our team and the amount of continued work needed to maintain and translate what we have. Instead, after a bit of a debate when we were in Taupo, we opted for a piece-by-piece rollout. Something that’s probably not considered best practice, but is the only way we’d achieve real progress.

With the help of the dev team, we reworked our rework in a way that would allow us to make the change one page at a time without completely breaking site continuity. And the least risky/consequential place to start (potentially aside from /about) was the blog.

From New to “New”

Fitting a brand new design into an old look takes a good deal of compromise and a huge (and slightly bitter) dose of reality. Our innovative nav idea had to be reinterpreted as the responsive version of the nav that exists on the rest of the site. The new font we’re eventually going to move to had to be replaced by old reliable – Arial. Every UI/UX choice had to be massaged in some way to semi-fit the new old look.

Chasing perfection proved time consuming though. It became apparent to the entire team that our once-regular practice of shipping stuff had bogged down to a constant cycle of modernizing/optimizing our backend, planning for new features, and keeping up with day-to-day maintenance. What began as a company that fully embraced shipping minimum viable products and iterating from there became a slow-moving beast of complexity. So after trudging along for probably too long second guessing every step (often asynchronously), the spirit of the past broke through and said, “SHIP IT ALREADY, IT’S A BLOG.”

After a few traumatic last minute style fixes (and some extremely late nights for Rob), we broke all the best practice rules and launched the new blog – on a Friday. At the end of the day. And you know what? Nothing broke!

Even MVPs Have To Get Better

So here we are, on a brand new blog that looks and feels a whole lot better than what we had. Is it perfect? No. At the time of writing:

  • The endless scrolling ends quite abruptly, so we’ll be adding a nice loading animation when new posts are coming in (or we might just paginate the entire thing. Per Timo, “Just let me get to the gd end of a page!”)
  • Some of the spacing and font sizes need adjusting
  • The new CMS has a few quirks, but nothing critical.

It’s a work-in-progress (or a minimum viable product, if you will), but everything is readable, and if I may say so, looks quite a bit more on-brand than it ever did in the past. It may just be a blog, but a lot of these backend and UI elements will be popping up site-wide over the next year. We’re excited.

And this is where you come in. If you’ve read this far, it’s clear that you have some sort of interest in what we do (or at least think we’re an interesting bunch). All we ask is that if you notice something that doesn’t work quite right, or could be improved upon, let us know! Email works, or Twitter/Facebook. However you want to get in touch, please do so. The decisions we make today will carry over to everything we do from here on out, and we’d love to get some honest feedback along the way.

Now… on to the next page!

New plugin: Comster

Remember the days when you had to hand code and upload everything if you wanted an online presence? We sure don’t miss those days…

Comster has everything you need to create a stunning website. No technical slog required!

Comster provides hosting and has a wide variety of fantastic modules and themes. Click on the ones you want to drag and drop your way to a great-looking site in 5 minutes. Then connect it to your domain name for a truly slick online presence.

Whether you want a website, blog, or online store, Comster has you covered. Working with photos, videos, even maps is as seamless as adding text.

And of course their designs are responsive so your site looks great on any platform.

Comster Commerce also provides detailed statistics into your sales data to the product level. They support Google Analytics integration as well.

Learn more and try it out free for 14 days!

From their customers:

Linda Bergman: “Without any web knowledge I was able to publish my cookbook online. And it looks awesome. #gocomster”

Hugo Lagerman: “Building a site has never been easier. This is amazing! @gocomster #webeditor #CMS”

Now hiring: Customer Support Developer

It’s job opening time here at iwantmyname, and now we’re looking for a new twist on an existing position – our very first Customer Support Developer.

Here’s the official position description:

What we’re looking for is someone to assist people with all technical questions and to help improve the overall support experience for both customers and other team members. Providing amazing customer support is possibly the most crucial aspect of our business, so it can’t be understated how important you will be to our success.

Your day-to-day tasks will include:

  • Replying to technical support inquiries and updating internal documentation as well as our public knowledge base
  • Improving admin tools and external support interactions (you need to be happy to dive into our codebase for that)
  • Reporting bugs and working with our technical team to resolve them
  • Communicating with suppliers to debug issues with domain registrations, transfers, and updates
  • Influencing the direction of iwantmyname’s website and dashboard based on customer feedback

Excellent English-language writing skills are a must. Also note that we’re specifically looking for someone in NZ, Australia, or Asia (UTC+8 ± 1 hour), but other location would also be fine if you don’t mind timeshifting.

If you think this is the position for you, send a witty email with a quick rundown of relevant work history to jobs@ideegeo.com. (Please don’t send any multi-page resumes… brevity is a skill we admire.)