by Matt Mazur, 2 Apr 2012
Way back when I launched Lean Domain Search on HackerNews in mid-January, it started out by returning 1,000 domains per search. About two weeks later I committed to adding 100 new search results every Sunday to give folks an even wider selection of available domain names to choose from. I'm happy to announce that the site has had ten consecutive weeks of domain names additions which means it now returns 2,000 domain names per search.
For those of your not familiar with Lean Domain Search, it pairs your search term with other keywords commonly found in domain names and instantly shows you which are available. For example, if you are a Ruby programmer and interested in starting a site related to Ruby, you'd search for "ruby" and Lean Domain Search would check "rubyhub.com", "rubyspot.com", "rubyden.com", etc, showing you within a few seconds which of those domain names (and now 2,000 total) are available.
If you're looking for a new domain name, Lean Domain Search will save you hours of time and potentially thousands of dollars if you decide to pick one of the domain names you find here over one from a domain squatter (domains which tend not to be much better than the available ones you will find here).
One concern a few folks have had is that the quality of the search results might diminish as I search for new ones to add. After all, it's easy to add more modifiers (like "+hub", "+spot", and "+den" in the example above), but I may run out of good ones and have to resort to adding subpar ones that degrade the quality of the search results.
I use a great service called Mixpanel to track details about the search results so I can measure things like how long the searches are taking, how many searches people make on average, and the average number of available search results (if you're concerned that I might use your searches to buy domain names for myself, know that I haven't registered a single domain name since I started the service.)
Here's the average number of available search results over since the site launched:
If the quality of the results was decreasing, you'd expect the number of new available search results to increase each week. Instead, the average number of new search results has remained steady since I started adding more each week: for every 100 new results I add, the number of available search results has increased by about 70. The average number of available search results has increased from about 530 when the site launched to almost 1,130 today.
One of the downsides of doubling to number of search results is that the average search duration has more than doubled:
I implemented a number of caching techniques to keep the search duration for the 8,000+ most popular search terms down to 2 seconds or less, but new searches have to be calculated on the spot which takes some time. I have not had one complaint about this (it's still much much faster that competitor sites), though it's something I want to improve in the coming weeks.
What impact has the increasing number of search results had on user activity? Here's the average number of searches per user:
Interpreting this is tricky: if the site is better, do we expect people to be making more searches or less? If there's more results to choose from, meaning they should be able to find a domain name quicker — you'd expect it to be less. But maybe because there's more results to browse through, the more terms they want to check before deciding on one. Or maybe the quantity of search results is overwhelming and it causes people to search less. Maybe the site is better now than it was before because there are more search results, but the inconvenience of the increased search duration negates the results. (We tend to place a lot of emphasis on metrics, but know how to interpret them — or how not to interpret them — can be even more important.)
Over the next few weeks there are three major things on my todo list:
One thing I've noticed using Lean Domain Search is that for queries that have 1,000+ available results, it can be difficult filtering through them all. Lean Domain Search does offer starts with and ends with filters, but it would also be nice to filter by modifier type (ie, just adjectives, just groups of things, etc). The goal of the site is to make it easier for people to find great domaines — so anything I can do towards that end will be a win.
If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear from you. You can reach me at email@example.com.