They should have gone out with the millenium fireworks, but, like the Dome, ten years later, they’re still with us. You’ve all seen them, on the sides of expensively paintworked vans and adorning smart business cards everywhere, the jarring ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ email addresses.
OK so it’s not always btconnect, there are others, but the point is it looks like you haven’t a clue what an email address actually is, and either have not been established long enough to sort out a proper address or can’t afford it; neither of these inspire confidence. The most puzzling companies are the ones that have a perfectly good website address, but don’t use it for their email; once again they’re either clueless or their website company is ripping them off.
So for all you dot com virgins out there, let me explain.
For a small fee, you can have a ‘domain’ of your very own. This is the bit after the @ sign where btconnect.com, hotmail.co.uk or tiscali.com goes at the moment. You can then have email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or anything else you would like.
It doesn’t cost that much, usually just an annual or bi-annual fee for registration and another to handle email sending, receiving and storage. You can even use this domain as the address for your website when you get really confident.
You don’t even have to abandon your current way of reading your email, in fact paying for a professional service should offer you more ways to access it, not less. If you currently have it coming to a program like Outlook, Outlook Express or Thunderbird on your computer, you can carry on doing that. If you prefer to log into a webpage to read it when you’re out and about, then you should be able to continue doing that.
So to sum up, getting a professional looking email address is important and not that expensive (although those 99p, or free and thrown in with your internet access ones are too good to be true, read the small print). If you agree, then you now have to choose the right domain for you and your company, I’ll cover this in Domain Names(II): Pick n Mix, coming soon.