2020 made businesses face an urgent choice – go online or go bust. Businesses that already had a robust online presence thrived. While those that hadn’t taken their digital transformation seriously were forced to do so in order to survive. As a global domain extension, .Online supported these businesses and individuals to get online with a high-quality namespace. The phenomenal growth that .Online has seen, not just in 2020 but even the years preceding it, couldn’t have been possible without the consistent support of our partners.   .Online has been the preferred domain extension for thousands of businesses online. From a local business in the US (www.getbaked.online) to a full-fledged digital marketing agency in Australia (www.louder.online); businesses and individuals across the world are appreciating the benefits of being on a .Online domain name.
While the past has been interesting, we are wondering what the future of online looks like.
To answer this question, we reached out to all our friends in the industry and asked them what they thought the future of being online would be.  The answers we got were amazing–some were nerdy, some futuristic, some funny, and some very, very realistic. Check them out here: 

Sandeep Ramchandani, CEO, Radix

COVID has brought about an unprecedented acceleration towards digitization. If it wasn’t for it, where we are now (mid to post-COVID) is where we would have been 3-4 years down the road, in terms of the movement towards an ‘online first’ world. Flash forward to what ‘being online’ would mean by 2025-26? Firstly let’s separate business relationships from social ones. In most of the emerging economies today,  the default mode of conducting commerce is offline – physical checks are used for business payments, more retail revenue is driven through physical stores than over eCommerce, and face-to-face meetings still give a significant edge in closing large business deals. We will see a marked shift to the default mode being “online”. All of the business interactions will be assumed virtually by default, and only when specified and backed by good reason, will any business need to happen offline. When it comes to social relationships, I have less of a futuristic view and more of a hope. The hope is for a shift in the opposite direction. We are all social animals and thrive as a collective community. Humanity has faced worse adversities in the past and there’s no doubt that we’ll come out of the current crisis stronger. However, there’s too much speculation of life not being the same as it was, and hopefully, that’s less applicable when it comes to social life. Social life needs to go back to meaning that we can all meet, hug, shake hands, and trust each other by default.

Lauren Joyner, Managing Editor US Blog, GoDaddy

I think the pandemic has taught us that businesses need to be online and it doesn’t have to be an obstacle to overcome. The Internet is already there and ready for solopreneurs, but it will continue to become more approachable. The idea of creating a website is daunting, but entrepreneurs are resilient and they will take the online world head-on. I think being online will be the primary place for solo/entrepreneurs, with social media continuing to be a driving force and brick-and-mortar will be a nice extra.

Elpida Moutsiou, Domains Global Marketing Manager, Namecheap 

It’s 2025 and most people prefer trying on clothes using augmented reality rather than a fitting room. In most cities, there are as many drones in the sky as birds. Someone even invented smell transmission over the Internet. Possibilities are endless as the world realizes it can do just about anything .ONLINE!

Natalie Brownell, Manager Domains Content & Social Media Marketing, Domain.com

We think that personalized online shopping experiences are one area that will see big improvements. There’s a lot of talk around personalization and also data privacy, so marketers and website owners will need to be mindful of both. Our team decided that in the future, one thing we’d love to see is personalization with holograms. Can you imagine what eCommerce would look like if you had a wearable that allowed you to “try on” outfits from different online sellers using your personal hologram? How cool would that be? As more and more brick-and-mortar businesses go online, it’ll be fascinating to watch and see how that affects people’s shopping habits. It’s an exciting time to be a business with a digital presence, and we can’t wait to see how being online will change in the next five years!”

Jillian Quijano, Content Marketing Manager, Crazy Domains, Vodien, and Sitebeat

When you imagine the near future, you think floating cars, time travel, and maybe even the Millennium Falcon hovering over New York City. But most of us aren’t aware that the future began roughly three decades ago – when Sir Tim Berners-Lee rewrote the world. His invention, the Internet, would go on to become a tour de force that transformed businesses everywhere. It leveled the playing field — pushing then-unknown brands like Netflix and Amazon to go on a full-blown attack against its gargantuan competitors. This David and Goliath story would only inspire more businesses to leverage the World Wide Web and bridge the connection between brand and consumer. We expect more of these stories as the Internet continues to evolve with technology and consumer trends. Whether we like it or not, we’re only moving towards expedient connectivity. The Internet will continue to change the way we consume media, communicate, and do business. We never know when another social media giant emerges from the ashes as Tik Tok did in 2016. Or when another site like Twitter becomes the “place to be” for socio-political commentary. Or how the ubiquitous cloud will outline different industries in the future – robots as-a-service, anyone? It’s a thrilling thought for businesses and consumers alike. And it’s more exciting to see what big idea changes the world next. We just need to wait for them to go online.

Roman Kazakov, Head Of The Product Management Group, REG.RU

If we talk about the near term development of the Internet, I would single out three key trends. First, the active growth of online retail. We are already seeing that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the daily habits of users who increasingly prefer online shopping. Traditional offline businesses (for example, grocery stores etc.) are also moving online in one form or another. They are trying to reduce costs and increase delivery speed. The second trend is online education. Today it is an attractive investment for venture capital funds and a convenient learning format for children and adults. The development of the Internet will make free school education accessible to all segments of the population. But in some cases, this will only increase the stratification of society due to better quality education in private educational institutions. An interesting example is India: large corporations are actively investing in education here, including trendy ones — AI, ML, etc. Another trend in the coming years is monopoly firms and Super Apps. As a result of globalization, more and more people will connect with each other, and transnational corporations will increasingly penetrate all regions of the world, despite political aggravations and closed markets. In such conditions, the competition will be difficult. The main areas will be monopolized by attracting inexpensive labor that can work from anywhere in the world, and will subsequently be replaced by automation. This confirms the fact that all large companies have already thought about creating Super Apps that will cover most of the needs of users and other corporations.

Abnous Anjomshoa, UX Manager, Namesilo

Fast, reliable, accessible internet connects the world and allows for the instantaneous flow of information. Being online has created a parallel world for us where we have online identities, online services, and even a slew of different forms of online wickedness (call the online police!). So what happens when the Internet becomes not only faster but offers greater connectivity and much less latency? Cue in high-band 5G. The great leap to 5G will lead to exponential growth and innovation in all industries leading to new products as well as a shift towards solopreneurship and moving many offline businesses online in the next 5 years. The accessibility of this technology to the public with its lower latency, bigger channels, and ability to connect more devices at once is what may bring you much closer to that time-travel business you’ve been thinking about since watching Back to the Future. We will see a shift in how and what we drive as well as how and what we use to communicate with one another etc., causing a shift in consumer trends and creating opportunities for new online businesses. In the next 5 years, consumers will be looking for more intelligent and personalized products that will give them results and a complete experience but with minimal effort. Enjoying a basketball game will no longer require you to pack the family into the car and take them to the arena. It will become an AR+5G experience where you watch your favorite basketball players battling it out on a court full of interactive fans, while the athlete is playing in their backyard and you’re watching from your living room. With the availability of such resources and advancements, we will see a shift from traditional employment to increased solopreneurship.

Candice Castro, Marketing Specialist, Dynadot

Websites across the globe have been emerging quickly over the years. More and more people are showing up online to provide easy access to their products, services, creativities, and innovations. Being online is extremely important today, and it will be equally as important in 5 years. Why? Well, you want folks to find you. You want to be accessible, you want to be trusted, you want to be known so that you can transcend your business to the next level. As new businesses continue to surface, so will the competition which means setting yourself apart from others will be a crucial focus in the coming years. There is no doubt that we live in a world full of talented people who have ingenious ideas and getting lost in the crowd is not an option if you are looking for growth. An online presence now, and in the future, can give you the platform you need to show people who you are, what your mission is, and what makes your product or brand unique. The Internet will keep evolving, but people are smart, so they will too!

Anton Mamine, Acquisition Manager, Hover

At Hover, we believe that in the next few years, it will become more important than ever to have an online presence. It will be essential for every successful business, big or small, to have a website that is easy to find and simple to navigate. Of course, a good, strong custom domain name will help with that.

İlknur Taşdemir, Senior Specialist Product Marketing, Natro

We are in a fast-changing world where people who did not feel the need to be online and are now making that transition. So what awaits us in the next 5 years? Here are some projections by Turkey’s leading domain and hosting company Natro: Being on the Internet. People do their work from their homes and we will see this more commonly in the coming years. eCommerce will be an indispensable part of our lives. To gain new customers and increase conversions; the first step will be to build a website. Looking professional. People will opt for more personalized e-mail addresses (e.g: info@sirket.online) to send updates and notifications. Being accessible every time and from everywhere. The world is big so think big and don’t limit yourself to the geography you are in. Let your website work for you even while you sleep. This is how .ONLINE world acts! Being creative. Being different will become more important. Give customers a reason to follow you. Separate from your peers. Keeping continuity. If you are doing something well, why not maintain it? This is exactly what your followers expect from you!

Bas Schouten, Product Manager Domains, Hostnet.nl

The world of online business has been growing for a long time. The COVID-19-pandemic has added a boost to this growth as well: more people are realizing that a lot of services can be handled mostly online very well. Over the next five years, I expect most online businesses will have abandoned their offline branch completely. Demand for offline services will eventually die out altogether and only businesses and services that cannot be handled online will stay offline. The coming years are a great time for the .ONLINE TLD, with offline businesses looking to expand their businesses using online facilities too. What better way than to use a domain name which clearly states it’s your business, but it’s “online”?

Derek Williams, Marketing Coordinator, Hexonet

Voice searches account for nearly half of all online searches today. Smart speaker sales like Amazon’s Echo and Google Assistant have been rising and advanced voice search assistants like Siri have led to this growing trend. While most voice searches today are for the weather, traffic, and making calls, further advances in voice search A.I. will inevitably lead to more complicated search functions. It won’t be long before we’re not just asking Siri for directions with voice control, but also ordering products, making restaurant reservations, and filling out online forms with voice control. Online businesses and entrepreneurs should take notice of this trend and ensure their website is voice optimized in order to be prepared for the future of online search.

Marieta Christopoulou, Marketing Communications Associate, Papaki

Greetings from 2025, my friends! I learned that you are wondering how the online world would be in my year and I could not resist writing to share some good and some bad news. I am warning you for spoilers! The online world is better, faster, and wow! Your ideas, even the craziest ones, are now online. The tools available are amazing and the UX is out of this world! Voice search is something usual, websites are fully accessible to everyone. Online helps us run a business from a beach and easily sell awesome products worldwide. It makes our lives easier and promotes our offline happiness. Of course, there is bad news too. Misinformation and privacy issues are still a thing. We are working on them a lot and I am optimistic. Furthermore, there is an issue regarding the domains that you know as “new”. Τhings are a little bit different in 2025. Many startups and entrepreneurs have already registered their wow domain and there are fewer options available. As you understand, .ONLINE is one of the domain extensions people love. So, be clever: register your amazing .ONLINE domain through Papaki.com, now that you are reading these lines. This way you will be the lucky ones in the future. For the rest, keep trying, keep thinking of something amazing, and make it true. You can do it! I can tell you that, for sure. Your fictional pal from 2025

Jasmin Bollman, Marketing Manager Social Media & Content, Rebel

Technology moves so quickly that’s it’s almost impossible to fathom what being online will look like in 5 years. Now that the way the world does business has changed permanently and so many of us are understanding the importance of having an online presence, I imagine that new communication tools will be created. Personal concerts from some of the biggest artists beamed into your home with virtual reality, maybe? If someone can dream it up, it can be created online.

Agata Bejnarowicz, Domain Product Manager, Home.net.pl

The time to start an online business and mark the nature of your activities is now. This is the future.

Daniel Drozdz, Marketing Specialist, H88 S.A. / Domeny.pl

In the next five years, the Internet will become the only place of contact for business between people – both between contractors and employees. Face-to-face contacts will go down in history. Even more human behavior will move onto the Internet, allowing even more online services to develop. These changes will, on the one hand, be encouraged by ecological and economic requirements, and on the other hand, by fear of diseases such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A complicated operation conducted by doctors on the other side of the world, a bicycle trip, a business dinner … Let’s expect more Internet than we dare.

Davide De Guz, Founder, Rebrandly URL Shortener

In the near future, the Internet will become, by far, the main place where consumers can buy products and services. The world will become an Internet-first global marketplace. In this scenario, online brands will be paramount. The concept of the brand itself will evolve to online-first. Even traditional, well-known brands will have to re-convert their image to adopt the Internet language and reshape the approach to their customers. Every piece of communication will be done with the online brand in mind. The online communication is trackable, measurable, comparable, global. This will force brands into being as transparent as possible and to pay attention to the most important part of the relationship with the customers: trust. Truth, consistency, and reputation will be the new absolute must for a successful business, with the entire existence of the company at stake. The relationship with the customers will move more and more into the virtual world with no physical presence. Only organizations that will embrace the Internet language and brand every piece of their relationship with the customer will thrive.

Erik Smit, Relationship Management and Domain Name Specialist, Metaregistrar B.V.

I think more and more companies will be forced to go online with their business in order to distinguish themselves in the market. If you cannot buy a product online or if a company does not have a webshop, I will not personally buy anything. I also expect growth in .ONLINE domain names and other upcoming TLDs.

Team Antagonist

In the next five years, we expect the use of !important in CSS to increase significantly… All jokes aside, we believe that being online will only become more crucial. Websites will no longer be just digital business cards, but an essential tool to engage with your target group and drive sales. Not being online will have a monumental impact on your business. This rings true now, but even more so in 2025. Therefore retailers currently offering their products and services in physical stores will have to find viable online alternatives.

The Porkbun Team

A GIF that says all:  A joke: The WWW (World-Wide Web) will be abandoned in favor of the CTVVPS (Confederated Tiktok-like Vertical Video Publishing System) and armed conflict will be replaced by dance-offs. A more diplomatic response: If we were really to try to predict the future, it’s gonna be that site builders will rule the day. People will finally get sick and tired of using WordPress. We guess the diplomatic answer has to do with more and more nTLD adoption.

Xavier Idevik Servera, CMO (Director de Marketing), Soluciones Corporativas IP

Just as the situation is evolving and the speed with which everything is changing, it’s very difficult to imagine what the future will be like. Think about it, 5 years ago .ONLINE domains did not exist, and now they have more than 1.5 M registered domains! But what is clear is that the Internet will continue to be the central and a very important part in relation to all the changes that will take place. An online presence will continue to gain more and more strength. My opinion is that there is going to be the time when having your own website will no longer be a plus, it will become a requirement for any kind of business or entrepreneur, as it will be the main way to gain visibility. This is where new domain extensions like .ONLINE will be very important, as they will give you a better chance to find the ideal name. An incredible future awaits us all where being online will be the key part of every strategy. So, what do you think the future of being online will be? Tell us in the comments below!