If you’re an English speaker, it’s easy to take for granted how Latin character friendly the internet is. But if your native language uses non-Latin characters, it can be frustrating for you and your visitors to have to adopt English words and phrases for your website.
Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, allow URLs to display in your local language rather than relying on English phrases. This is achieved by converting random strings of characters, known as Punycode, to non-Latin characters, known as Unicode. Here’s how you can use Name.com’s free Punycode to Unicode converter to create your own IDN.
Start by heading to Name.com and selecting the Support tab from the navigation bar. Under Resources you’ll find the Punycode to Unicode Converter.
Here, you can enter non-Latin characters to automatically create a Punnycode string. For example, enter the Japanese phrase 名がドメイン.com and you’d get a Punycode string like xn--v8jxj3d1dzdz08w.com. Or, enter the French phrase detrèsbonsdomaines.com, which uses an ascii character, and you’d get the string xn--detrsbonsdomaines-vsb.com.
So what’s so great about that? Well, if you’re using an English browser, it isn’t too exciting—After all, you’ll just see the Punycode string for the web address. But if you’re using a Japanese browser, you’ll see the Japanese characters, and French browsers will show the ascii character. These websites will also resolve if you type the non-Latin characters into your web browser.
Only certain registries and domain extensions support certain languages, so it’s best to double check that your language is supported before registering the domain. You can do so by making sure your language is available in the IDN Language drop down menu that you’ll see when registering a domain that uses Punycode.
IDNs are great for businesses who want to cater to non-English speaking audiences, or really for anyone who speaks and writes in a language that uses non-Latin characters. And get this—it even works for registering emoji domains! (Although there are a few reasons why it might not be the best idea.)