November 8, 2018

How important is a custom domain name in your MVP?

So, I come up with and launch MVPs from time to time.. cool but I'm also a cheapskate and don't wanna have to fork out $10 bucks for a custom domain name each time.

Among others, I use lyntonlabs.net and also have https://can-hack.it (A play on my surname "Hackett")

I've already bought a few domains for products but in the really early stages when launching landing pages and the like I'm thinking of just using subdomains of one of the above.

How big a deal is this? I guess for Lynton Labs at least for a tech audience they will get quite quickly that this is like an R&D domain etc..

What do others think? Am I just a total cheapskate? Perhaps I just buy the damn domain and the weeks I launch the product I don't go overboard on Starbucks and cycle to work each day.....

... There's also the issue of somebody sniping my domain if the product is cool. :/ (did I just answer my own question?)


  1. 6

    I see domains as very integral part of the idea, one of the first things I get. $10/yr to validate a project is a bargain.

    1. 1

      Yea, i'm inclined to agree. I just nabbed a domain for £1.50 with promo code and fresh account on GoDaddy.. can't go wrong. 12 months should be enough time to decide on renewal.

  2. 3

    An MVP is about “validated learning” of an hypothesis. So it completely depends on what you’re testing with your MVP. If you’re testing a name, then you may require a domain. Ordinarily you don’t need a custom domain. I’d go so far as to say an emphatic no to getting a custom domain for an MVP. You want to be genuinely uncommitted on an MVP otherwise you’ll try to believe in the product even when the tests show it’s a dud.

    For a Beta (which is what most people are really answering about) you definitely want a custom domain.

  3. 3

    Using a custom domain shows that you are serious about the product you are building, and you have spent money and energy on all things that can be easily done.

    So, to me, it seems very important and is worth doing, comparing the benefits and costs.

    1. 1

      Fair enough

    2. 1

      That's very true actually.

  4. 3

    If it is just an idea you are playing with, and you want to showcase a prototype, sub domain is fine.

    If you want to showcase a business or even a MVP I think custom domain shows that you are serious about it. But I don't think it is always necessary.

    That being said, I have seen great MVPs on subdomains or hosted, but I have never seen a great business on subdomain.

  5. 1

    For my projects I just give up and buy domain names :).

    But thinking about it now I wouldn't mind to use/test something without a perfect domain name.

  6. 1

    If your idea isn't worth $10 for a domain then probably it's an idea you should validate using other means. Like a prototype on Sketch or photoshop. It's not a shame to be careful with your money btw. It's all good.

  7. 1

    Look at your domain like real estate. If your MVP's name has the domain available at a price that you can afford, no question, buy it. Even before your first line of code, just whip out the credit card.

    But if it's up for sale at 100,000, and you don't have the means, get a temporary one that still brands your baby properly, even if it has a dash (ewww) until you're ready to take a lease in an office overlooking the Golden Gate! (Yay!!)

  8. 1

    I'm in the same boat and I've decided to use an overarching domain that I have that is similar to your Lynton Labs in that it is Zenith Solutions. It's yet to be validated, but I am approaching it as Product A by Zenith Solutions and Product B by Zenith Solutions, etc.

    If one starts to get a whole lot of traction, I'm thinking that will be the time when I try and buy the domain that matches the product name directly that I really want (which someone is just sitting on)!

    1. 2

      Agreed.. yea kind of like I just say "BestProduct is a trading name of Lynton Labs Limited"..

      The flipside is it looks like you can actually get dotcoms for a dollar or two using the code referenced in this thread. I couldn't get it in my regular browser session (already used) but when I went incognito it looked like it was going to work. I guess it comes at the cost of having a separate account for each domain..

      Best of luck :)

  9. 1

    For MVP's I tend to use a custom domain so that if they do start generate traction and I start taking the idea further it creates a longer domain life and can help the long term. I also prefer to spend my money on little luxuries (polite way to say cheapskate ;) ) and I use services like https://www.ionos.com/ (Used to be 1&1) and find the domains with 1st Year at $1 so gives me some runway.

  10. 1

    I considered making Formico: Landing Pages on its own domain but ultimately decided that with the potential tie in and SEO benefits to the existing business it made sense to put it on the same domain.

    I suspect the next project will be less synergistic, in which case it will get its own little place on the internet to live.

  11. 1

    I also prefer custom domains over using sub domains. However, I understand your pain, trying to find "suitable" custom domain name is also a time consuming pain. And probably not required for all cases.

    I can usually get custom domains for cheap (~1$) by searching on instantdomainsearch and clicking through their affiliate link. (I am not affiliated with any of these companies.) Hope this can save you some money.

    1. 1

      How do you get the $1 domains? I've tried via instantdomainsearch and I am being quoted about $10..

      1. 1

        It might be .com domains only. It redirects to godaddy with a coupon code (CJCBH99). You could probably try that code directly in godaddy's checkout flow.

        (For clarity I am also not affiliated with godaddy either.)

        1. 1

          Ahh, it says I have already used that type of promotion :) Thanks though.

  12. 1

    I think there is some skepticism among techs when they see a product being offered on a subdomain, but I'm not sure how much this transfers to the general populace.

    And if subdomains might seem a little sketchy, sometimes a subdirectory might look better - not sure.

    I'm a cheapskate, but I (sadly) only focus on one idea at a time, so I tend to register a domain for each since it might give a slight edge in credibility.

    One benefit of sub-domains/dirs is that you'll get more eyeballs on it. Some SEO, maybe add a long term blog, and list products.

    I would be cool with creating one site for a million little projects, then breaking them out if I felt one had a lot of potential.