Getting Ahead: Architects Should Declare That They Design, Too

Use of the .design domain strikes a perfect balance between the broad and the specific, expanding an architect’s purview to align with the wider design community.

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

An architect can design anything, but the literal meaning of the word, “master builder,” is lost on a public that associates architects only with structures. Everything from furniture and glasswork all the way up to cars, airships and even the Hyperloop have been created by architects, so it’s time to change the label. Architects are designers.

The nascent expansion of the internet is a perfect opportunity to forge this new perception. As domain names increasingly move from .com into more specific classifications, an ability to denote the wide-ranging skills of an architect with the use of .design becomes immediately clear.

TOAD’s .design site is clean-cut and minimal, allowing the content to take center stage.

Establishing a professional identity can be difficult in today’s digital world because many business names are determined by what .com names are available or cheap. For creative professionals, .design solves this problem by freeing up names that disappeared from .com decades ago. The new domain offers a chance to simplify a web address by removing extraneous terms, and its specificity ensures both limited competition and targeted traffic.

“It identifies you as a designer,” architect Tony Osborn says. Osborn capitalized on the availability of a purpose-specific domain to change his firm’s name from Tony Osborn Architecture + Design to the more memorable TOAD, which is found at He explains, “If my website were, for instance, there’d be no indication that we do architecture or design at all.” He cites .design’s capacity to speak for itself.

Elaborating on the limitations of .com, Andrew Means of visual branding agency Transom Design says, “We went through at least four or five different domain names. At one point, we had, and then we had, which was a terrible choice for a domain name.” A .design address, on the other hand, was far better suited to serve their business. “It’s who we are and what we do, and that’s it,” he says.

TOAD’s blog positions the firm as a thought leader for the profession.

Using this relatively new domain is the hallmark of a tech-savvy professional, especially given that companies like Facebook and Airbnb use the domains and for their design teams’ content. The ability to effectively use, or even simply discuss, a new, domain extension clearly distinguishes someone who’s versed in contemporary working methods from someone who may have difficulty adapting to a fully digital future. This makes .design especially appropriate for young architects striking out on their own for the first time, as it immediately differentiates them from older, more traditional firms.

In terms of professional identification, an architect’s use of .design strikes a perfect balance between the broad and the specific. Simply associating with the word “design” instead of just “architecture” expands an architect’s purview to align with the wider design community, in turn expanding the public’s conception of an architect’s capabilities. “Everything we do starts with design, so the .design suffix is one more way of getting that message across,” says Tobias Strohe, AIA, a partner at the architecture firm Johnson Nathan Strohe. Found at, their domain speaks to a comprehensive process. “Our approach to design focuses on context, authenticity and making function beautiful,” he says. “From building configuration to door knob.”

Associating with the notion of design as a whole ultimately benefits the architecture profession — and speaks to the future. Today’s emerging architects are branching out into new areas of practice quicker than ever before and embracing new working methods and technologies in the process. The affiliations offered by a .design domain speak to the cross-disciplinary ambitions held by many of today’s hottest young practices.

Johnson Nathan Strohe’s .design site features tabs that reflect the firm’s “comprehensive process”.

An architect’s foray into new digital space benefits their overall visibility, as well, because the simplified specific domains now up for grabs under .design can vastly improve search engine optimization (SEO). Using nearly any one- or two-word address with “design” baked into it can position a page higher up in relevant search results than for any of the complex multi-word .coms available with similar connotations. Higher visibility of this sort can result in top-of- mind presence among people searching for architects and designers, giving a young practice a huge boost in attracting new clients, recruiting top talent and enlarging their presence in the global design community.

Establishing yourself as an architect is hard, but .design can help. Fill out the form below to register for a new .design domain free for one year with no further obligation (you can choose to renew at $35 per year after that). The offer includes free email hosting, free SSL certificates and free Whois privacy as well as a free website builder from Weebly.

A new .design domain is a valuable tool for commanding the full power of an increasingly robust internet. Set your domain up today before someone else claims it — and snag the new clients that higher-visibility, increased traffic and a targeted audience can bring to your practice.