Why Moving To A New Domain Makes Sense

In my last post welcoming you to the new site James asked a question in the comments.

Was curious though, as why you chose to redesign the site and move the domain, looking forward to hearing your post about everything.


Since a few other people have expressed similar interest in knowing why I moved I thought a post explaining my decision was in order. Forgive the mostly me-centric post, though hopefully there will still be some learning along the way. Ideally my experience will help you in some form.

A Little History

A few years ago a friend and myself started a web design company. Neither of us had any experience with business and while we were able to create and build websites we were somewhat clueless when it came to acquiring new clients. After a year or so we put that business to pasture. My friend decided to go on to other things and I decided to give it another go at building a web business.

For a year I mainly freelanced with most of the work being for someone I know who runs a hosting and web development business. I worked coding sites for some of his clients and also spent a good deal of time helping him build a new hosting site aimed at people like myself wanting a place to host sites for web design clients.

Somewhere along the way I picked up a few more clients and decided it was time to become a business and build a site for myself.

One thing I’ve never been good at is picking names. I don’t know why, but choosing names doesn’t come easily to me. Choosing one for my business was no exception. I wanted something generic and after a few weeks of finding every domain I thought up already owned by someone else I decided on yellowhouse.com. Once again the domain was taken, but I was getting tired of searching, tacked on the word hosting to the end, and thus a company name was born.

Am I Really A Web Host?

Adding the word hosting was against my better judgment. I never saw myself as a web host, but rather a designer/developer who happened to offer hosting services to clients. But when you have the word hosting in your domain people are going to see you as a hosting company first.

After a time I realized the domain didn’t make sense for me. I suspected some people who might have become design clients didn’t see me as a web designer and looked elsewhere. I decided to take stock of who I was as a person and where I wanted to go as a company. One afternoon while waiting for a client in a coffee shop I took out a notebook and started listing what I thought my strengths and skills were. They didn’t point to hosting.

Who Am I?

Knowing who I wasn’t was easy. Deciding who I was took a little more time and effort. At the time I was offering design and development services, seo and marketing services, and web hosting. The more I thought about it the more I started to see that my skills aligned most at the point where design and marketing meet.

My biggest strength as a web designer and developer is in building a search engine friendly website and my strongest skill as a marketer/seo was in building a search engine friendly site. Nice when that happens. While I can certainly do more, it only made sense that I should be promoting myself based on my ability to create search friendly sites than to promote myself as a webhost.

I immediately purchased a few domains I thought I might use and quickly put up one page on the vanseodesign domain, which announced something was coming and pointing people back to the yellowhousehosting site until that something was ready.

It’s Been A Long Year

That single page has been up for a long time. My original plan was to move last year, but I let one thing after another keep me from working on the new site. I did create a few designs and settled on a version similar to the one you see here now, but never got much further.

First it was client work that got in the way, then it was a bit of avoiding what looked to be a rather daunting task. Next it was a friend visiting for the summer, and in the end it became the norm not to work on the new site. As 2007 turned into 2008 I decided to make some resolutions. I’m usually not a big New Year’s resolution guy, but this year I felt like I needed them to give me back some focus that had been lost.

There are many projects I’d like to get to, but I felt moving to the new site was the most important and that many of my other ideas needed this to happen first if they were going to be successful. I resolved to focus on building the new site and moving.

Now I Feel More In Harmony With Myself

I know there are going to be some pains associated with the move to a new domain. I expect to see search traffic drop off for a few months before hopefully coming back. It looks like I may have lost some subscribers in the move and a new name does mean I’ll have to rebrand myself. I think all the pains will be worth it, though.

I now feel like this site and my business are a better reflection of who am I as a person and a business and align more closely with what I have to offer. The site, the business, and myself are now in harmony with each other. There’s still plenty of work to do, but at least now things are moving in the same direction instead of sometimes working at cross purposes.

This website isn’t finished. No website ever is. However, now ideas and projects I think will help me grow make more sense and fit better with where the site is and where I want to go.

Thanks to everyone who is still here and with me on the journey and thanks to everyone who’s helped me identify a few broken things so I can fix them. I hope I made the transition as smooth as possible.

If you have more questions about why I moved feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

22 comments

  1. I’m happy to see that everything went well.
    And let me wish you good luck on your new identity.
    I’m sure you will soon find many of your follower back.

    • Thanks Thierry. I’m sure some of the subscribers will be back. I left one post on the old site for anyone who subscribed prior to my adding FeedBurner and left instructions on how to find the new site.

      I’m sure I’ll lose a few people, but in all honesty I’d probably lost them somewhere before now.

  2. Thanks for the story, Steve. I can see now why you wanted to refresh your image, and your primary focuses on design and development, rather than hosting, as your old site projected.

    I’ll admit too when I first visited your blog that I thought it was primarily a hosting-focused business, now you look more designer-focused, which gives off the right vibe, IMO. :)

    Plus, now you can try out the new marketplace, and sell your yellowhousehosting domain (if you didn’t already have plans for it, that is).

    On a side note here, I now noticed that you can reply to comments. Did you install a plugin or something? That be a nice feature to add to my blog. I installed “sexy comments”, but it’s not compatible with WP 2.5.

    • Glad to supply the story James. It just didn’t make sense for me to keep hosting in the name.

      I actually need to hold on to the old domain, though. I still have some programs I run on the backend that I’ll have to move here at some point.

      Even more though there are quite a few links pointing at the old domain so I need to hold on to it to keep the redirection in place. No reason to lose all the link love I’ve built up over the years. I have no plans on selling the old domain any time soon.

      I did add the reply to comments feature. I’m using the Brian’s Threaded Comments plugin and I customized the style to match the new look a little better. It works with 2.5

      • Thanks for the info :)

        Downloaded the plugin and am currently experimenting with all the workings for it.

        If you don’t mind me asking, were you able to just apply your new blog’s stylesheet to the provided comment form? Or did you have to do all the coding customization by hand?

        I like the idea of the plugin, but I’m not a php expert, and would rather keep my current colors and styles rather than using the default comments.php file the plugin provides.

        It can be frustrating when you can’t find the right areas to insert the styles and things in a php page.

        • The plugin comes with its own css styles so you can either edit those or overwrite them in your themes css.

          I moved the css and the javascript from the plugin file to their own separate files, but you don’t need to do that.

          I didn’t modify any of the php to style the comments.

          • It does? Where are the styles? I looked in both php files and it only seems like they are scattered throughout the file, in no particular place.

            Did you use the comments.php file it came with? Or did you use your theme’s?

            Sorry to bother you so, but this seems like a really cool plugin and I’d want it to look just right, and I’m not sure which code I’d remove.

          • Actually, I found the CSS in the plugin, but I want to do as you said, and just overwrite and remove them altogether.

            Would I just delete the CSS from briansthreadedcomments.php and it would automatically take me to the theme’s CSS? Because that’s essentially what I want.

          • The styles in the plugin are written specific to the plugin. You can delete them, but then those elements will fall back to defaults.

            If you want just comment them out at first and see how things look. Then you can either add some back or write new styles for them in your own css.

  3. Steve,

    Congrats on making the move to the new domain. I love the new design, very clean and fresh.

    I still remember getting a little confused when I first visited the old domain. My initial impressions that you did hosting as a main line of business and some design and seo work on the side. Of course, as I got to know you, I discovered that was not the case. Sort of funny because I wanted to ask you about that several times but was not sure if it was appropriate or not.

  4. Thanks Khalid. I think I always sent out mixed signals as to what I did with the old site. Sometimes I’m surprised any of my clients found me.

    Funny not knowing if you could ask me. Always feel free to ask me anything you want. I don’t offend easily and not one to worry much about inappropriateness.

  5. I think the move was definitely a good thing and it did make a lot of sense. As someone who as benefitted from your design skills, I know you can do a lot more than hosting. I think your new site will help a lot more people understand that too.

    Plus I like the color scheme. Blue and green, two of my favorite colors!

  6. Branding your business is a tough thing to do, especially for us tech-heads that made fun of the business students back in college.

    Also, I fully understand the whole “put off the redesign” thing. It’s like the old story of the cobbler’s children — they had the worst shoes in town because dad was too busy with customers to serve his own needs.

    All in all, I like the design and the new “message”.

    • If I was a cobbler and I had children, they’d be shoeless right now. It’s so easy to put off things for yourself when in business even though those things are sometimes the most important for your success.

      Thanks again.

    • Thanks. I probably should have made the move last year like I wanted to, but oh well. It wasn’t an easy decision since I know the move will set me back in many ways, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t move forward without making the move.

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