A sometimes overlooked part of design is how a web address will look. It’s a quirky thing … web addresses. What sounds good in a meeting may, in reality, come off as a slightly risque internet meme. Or a punch line in a coffee conversation. I was sitting having my usual latte when I overheard a couple of suit and ties having a laugh at the end of the table. The final line was “or we could order from penis land”. That brought my head up … Turns out it’s a pen company (and from the conversation a pretty fine one):

Pen Island Brewery

Here’s where a simple hyphen would have made all the difference. Doubtful anyone would have stopped and though of the half dozen jokes I heard whip around regarding the unfortunate web address.

Here’s what their logo looks like:

logo for pen Island

It’s interesting the designer carefully inserted uppercase and bolding to clearly define the company name. It borders on tragic, no one took a moment to look at the way the url looks in print. One simple hyphen would have created clarity – www.pen-island.net rather than the snicker inducing www.penisland.net. I encountered this issue many years ago … ok about 2 decades ago … when I set up my first personal website. I though cool, I’ll use my first initial and my last name. The combination turned out to be incredibly embarassing. Lesson learned and now I look at addresses when I sit down to design anything. That includes email addresses. About a year ago, I was helping a customer set up her business emails and I pointed out the name picked would quickly become embarassing. She looked at me like I had just sprouted horns. I drew a small mockup business card and wrote in the address she wanted. After the red blush faded she decided that wouldn’t do and came up with something that looked more professional.

Like I said, tricky things, urls and email addresses. The way they look in print should be considered when designing your site. Otherwise, you may end up living on penis land.

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