Making great software is not just about coding and design. It’s also about paying close attention to life beyond the clicks and the screen—talking to real people. Rarely is anything perfected in a vacuum. By listening carefully to what users are saying, and listening especially hard for the hacks people come up with to circumnavigate shortcomings can present learning opportunities for us.
That’s what happened for us when one of our users told us that they use Google Translate to pronounce domain names in native English. They wanted to know how the domain would sound out loud, and they weren’t proficient in English. This hadn’t even crossed our radar—of course not everyone knows how to pronounce every English word. Of the two billion English speakers on the planet, only about a third consider it a first language. The English language brings people from all corners of the earth together online.
As you work through many possible domain names, it can be easy to forget to say the name out loud—especially if you aren’t sure how to say it. It’s your domain; you have to know how. This also matters because sometimes the way an English word correctly pronounced sounds like an offensive word in another language. “Face” sounds like “fesse” in French (a behind), and the English pronunciation of “salsa” sounds like the word for “diarrhea” in Korean. These are a couple of the higher-brow examples. You need to know.
Equipped with this insight, we got straight to work on an audio feature. Now, when anyone explores our domains, there is an option to “pronounce.” When you press it, a random voice will speak the domain name in native English—It’s already one of our most popular features. We filled a vital gap that we didn’t know we had. There is so much to consider when buying a domain name, and we’re thrilled to share this new tool with you.
It’s so easy to forget that any communications we are sending out or putting online are going to a real person or real people. Apart from Zoom or Google Meets, many of us spend so much time dedicated to writing and reading online. We don’t feel like there’s anyone on the other end of the line. But remember, there is, and they could be anywhere in the world. Always check the pronunciation when you’re uncertain. And lastly, keep an ear open for someone else’s hacks, they could lead you down an unexpected, but rewarding path.