Preparing For The Launch Of The .gay Domain Name

As we mentioned in a previous post, we are going to launch the .gay domain name extension to the public later this year.  

This past week, we convened an advisory council of community members to better refine the mission and purpose of .gay.

This post gives a brief summary of our findings and shares our roadmap for the future launch of .gay on October 11th, 2019.

Saturday Morning Mind Wide Open Exercise

Whenever you launch a brand new product, it requires careful planning. For .gay, we wanted to make sure that we were being intentional and creating space for external input on our launch. Some questions we wanted to address were:

  • Who could benefit from the use of a .gay domain name?

  • How is the .gay domain going to fit in greater LGBTQ2SIA+ community?

  • What is our mission statement and purpose as we launch the .gay domain name?

To answer these questions, we conducted a thought-experiment exercise that we like to call Mind Wide Open. In this exercise, all participants in a meeting are asked to write down their thoughts on note cards about the work at hand. In this case, we brainstormed anything that came to mind about the launch of .gay. These ideas could include anything from pricing, to mission statement, to corporate responsibility.

Mind Wide Open Exercise

Mind Wide Open Exercise

There were no right or wrong answers in this exercise; rather, it was an opportunity to let our minds wander and think creatively. Once complete, we had a whole table full of topics. We grouped all related ideas together and identified general themes for discussion. Once we had all the themes on the board, we then prioritized and started delving into each one. There were intentionally no time limits placed on each theme because we wanted to give each theme enough time to discuss and hash out.

Major Themes Pertinent to .gay

Some of the themes we identified as a group included:

Abuse & Content Policies

How would we ensure that our company acts in a responsible way when issues arise from the abuse of .gay domain names?

When it comes to spam, most domain name registrars have specific policies and procedures in place to determine what constitutes spam and what constitutes a reasonable amount of promotional content. But when it comes to themes of cyberbullying and harassment, the lines are blurred. How can we ensure that the use of the .gay domain name minimizes the risk of people feeling alienated and maximizes the feeling of inclusion and safety? In a way, each top-level-domain, (or TLD), is its own “space” on the internet. For example, .com is for commerce and general website domains, just as .dentist is for the dentistry industry and parts suppliers and so on. As .gay becomes introduced into the mix, how can we make it a safe space for those using it? Regardless of the exact policy that we come up with, one thing was certain: we will need to communicate our policy clearly on our website and on our terms & conditions page, in order to make it easy for people to understand their rights, and what to do in the case of a complaint. One observation that was made at the meeting was that other large companies do have policies for dealing with abuse, but their instructions are so lengthy and overloaded with legalese that the average user gives up out of frustration. As one of the meeting participants wisely posited: the path forward must keep the user experience at the forefront of our policy efforts.

Promoting Good Content

We all know the internet has occasionally been used as a place for harmful and derogatory content over the last 20 years. So we wanted to discuss ways in which we could promote good content to be used on .gay. Some examples we identified included: using the .gay domain name for businesses that cater to gay clients, or organizations and events that support the gay community.

Core Partnerships

We identified one theme as the need to partner with organizations and allies of the gay and LGBTQ+ community. By partnering with community organizations, we could feed off of each other to promote .gay and make it available to anyone in the world who identifies as gay.


Themes we identified to discuss further

Themes we identified to discuss further

Mission & Purpose

After all of this discussion, we arrived at two key conclusions:

1.)   We answered the question “Who is .gay for?”

2.)   We defined The mission & Purpose of .gay

Who is .gay for?

Our target market is anyone who identifies as gay. .gay is part of the LGBTQ+ community, but it certainly doesn’t act as an umbrella term. For that reason we want to be clear that our target market would self-identify as gay.

The Mission & Purpose of The .gay Domain Name

Provide a Space for Gay People to Celebrate & Connect.

The Mission & Purpose of .gay

The Mission & Purpose of .gay

We chose the word “space” because having a .gay domain name signals to visitors that the website is a place for gay content and customers. The word “connect” was chosen to symbolize how both website creators and visitors can connect with each other by having a simple identifier on the domain name URL of the website. By seeing that detail, .gay would let people know what you do as a business before they even arrive to the website.

Conclusion 

At the end of the meeting it was clear that follow-on discussions were necessary. We needed to look at the types of organizations and media outlets that could help get the word about the .gay domain name. While we were unable to address all questions that we initially laid out at the beginning of the meeting, we felt productive in generating the high-level messaging for .gay. One thing was clear, regardless of what new insights we come up with in subsequent meetings, .gay is poised to make a splash in the market in October.

We are proud to be the registry for .gay!

Photo: Mercedes Mehling, Portland Pride

Photo: Mercedes Mehling, Portland Pride

We are super excited to announce that we recently won the auction for the .gay TLD. This brings our portfolio to 4 TLDs.

We already know that our newest member of the family is a special one: .gay is an unprecedented opportunity to create a dedicated space on the Internet for a global population. LGBTQ+ history is a story of resilience, beauty, and community in the face of marginalization and persecution. Imagine for a moment how unique and historic this development is: can you imagine a .gay being introduced during the .com boom of the 90s, during the era of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”? It’s easy to forget, especially in liberal America, exactly how far we’ve come. There are so many personal and social victories to celebrate and so many to still fight for.

Our work and company is about to change and grow in wonderful ways. We’re excited that .gay will allow us to support the visibility of gay and LGBTQ+ people, groups, and businesses around the world.

We will be updating our site as soon as we have details on launch. Right now, we’re hiring, we’re listening, and we’re building. Please get in touch to offer any help.

Cisco Webex redesigns teamwork at webex.design

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 9.09.56 AM.png

As the registry powering the .design domain extension, it is humbling to see uses for .design that you never would have imagined. Not only are these .design sites more beautiful, creative, and user-friendly than your average website -- they are also very innovative. Recently, we see several major brands creating their own .design presence. One of the most recent sites we’ve discovered is webex.design from the Silicon-Valley powerhouse, Cisco.

We recently met Cisco Webex’s Design Group at the Interaction19 conference, hosted by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). Cisco was there with the main goal of identifying potential talent and recruiting new hires on to their team. They launched their website, www.webex.design, just before the start of this event with the goal of using it to inform and attract talent at the conference.

We began corresponding with Cisco’s Danielle Epstein, and learned that webex.design is helping to showcase their design team and the work they do against challenging design problems related to teamwork and communication.

“Cisco Webex has not historically been known as an organization that employs a lot of designers, but that just isn’t the case. We have more than 100 designers here doing incredible work in both product and industrial design, and we think it deserves to be showcased to the world!”

Not only does this site provide them with tools like capturing job interest from the event’s attendees, but it also provides the public with insight into the products this team works on as well as their team culture, values, and structure.

Over the next few months, The Design Group will begin using this site for internal purposes as well. The dream is to make webex.design the home for all design operations content so that designers can access all important information and resources from a single source as opposed to from a variety of tools. “What's really cool is that someone looking at our site from the outside will go to the same place as a new hire once they join. It's a continuous experience from pre-hired to hired and ramping up all the way to being a pro on the team”, Danielle notes.

The work is already paying off, even though the site is still under development. The team is proud to have an official presence and they can't wait to see how the site will continue to evolve.

“We are trying to reach out to many different people with Webex.Design. From the partners who sell our systems, to the customers who deploy and manage them, and end users who use them. The .design domain allows us to very overtly say -- this is what drives what we build. This is why we build things the way we do, and these are the brilliant people who do it. We are happy that the .design domain gives us a place to have this design-centric conversation.”

Cisco is building this site so they can be seen as design leaders alongside some of their competitors and other successful companies, many of which have their own .design sites. The Design Group also cited many other .design sites, such as slack.design, airbnb.design, and uber.design, as further inspiration when building webex.design.

Tacos by design? tacobell.design!

The “about” page on the fabulously bright new tacobell.design site

The “about” page on the fabulously bright new tacobell.design site

Taco Tuesday? Why wait?! Finding tacobell.design today, Friday, is like divine intervention. Yes, yes, I will spend some time this afternoon looking at glossy Mexican food photos and dreaming of Miami.

The new site, tacobell.design, is unabashedly fun. It makes me think of Miami because the bright, tropical color scheme on the “about” page is beyond captivating. While there are now many brand names using .design sites to show off their design department, I can’t think of another example where I imagine the entire department working out of the corner booth surrounded by margaritas. They look fun, cool, and creative. Wait, do they serve margaritas at Taco Bell?

Taco Bell Design’s Instagram feed as integrated on the tacobell.design site

Taco Bell Design’s Instagram feed as integrated on the tacobell.design site

The strategy beyond the site is probably supposed to be fun too! Don’t forget that this is a trail-blazing brand that is famous for its social presence and its marketing campaigns. It is also the only .design brand site that I can think of that calls out its Instagram presence in a major way (most other .design brands link to Twitter, which now that I think of it, isn’t a good match since Instagram is a far more creative, graphic, and engaging medium especially for the target audience, designers).

The site looks simple at first glance, but clearly professional. Besides the amazing, personal photography of the design team members, the integrated Instagram feed shows off curated and casual shots alike, but even the latter are effortlessly stylized. Stop bad-mouthing millennials, they make this professional, creative branding look easy.

Still from the “2016 Rebrand” case study on tacobell.design

Still from the “2016 Rebrand” case study on tacobell.design

However, digging beyond the three main pages of the site (“Work”, “Play”, “About”), we see that the Work page is actually very in depth. Each tile image opens up an entire case-study of the initiative. We can click to open up a break-down of the 2016 rebrand effort, individual marketing campaigns, their Instagram strategy, and more. It’s the type of thorough branding and studied, creative dedication that many aspiring designers dream of. I have to assume that this new venue allows them to enter the field of brands looking to compete for and recruit top design talent by showing off their work. Still, in a typically impressive way, Taco Bell manages to make it all look so fun and free-wheeling. They’ll let facebook.design and uber.design compete for the same talent and instead focus on finding the “weirdos and rebels,” as they call themselves.