I have no idea if I am unique or weird but I do look at email addresses and they do create an impression on me. Equally, they can infuriate if not appropriately complete, consistent or representative of the organisation the person belongs to.
Obviously, I am mainly talking about emails from a company/business perspective, but there are images/perceptions created by whatever may appear prior to the domain name; lusciouslinda@….. or onenightstan@…… does give an impression!.
However, from a business perspective, there are considerations of both the name element and the domain element of an email address.
We have a customer who has a domain of www.theaccountants.co.uk, yes they are accountants, but that is not the company name. I first thought it was a neat idea, but then, if for some reason you wanted to contact them and called 118118, having just seen and remembered the domain, you would never find them.
Although slightly off the thread, my view is the domain name should reflect your brand or product. A case in point is the company called Qlik who produce one product, a great BI product called Qlikview. They had a web domain of www.qlik.com, but the email domain was @qliktech.com. They are now @qlik.com, which to me makes much more sense because it re-enforces the product brand. It is less important to know who the company is from a marketing and communication viewpoint.
Getting to the nub of the question though; what does your email address say about you. If you are in business then it can say a lot, some examples and possible interpretations:
email@example.com – possibly a consultant, but if it were, and you were trying to sell yourself, it does not take much to move to a domain to give a more professional perception, as well as sort out the name element of the address.
firstname.lastname@example.org – a one-man band? a very small company? a very friendly personable company?
email@example.com – male or female? what do they have to hide? large ego? Is his/her name is actually JH?
firstname.lastname@example.org – again a smallish company? can’t be bothered to type in a longer name
email@example.com – is there a standard? should it be john.hayes, I think so, easier to type and remember, getting towards a more corporate format, giving the impression of a larger organisation.
firstname.lastname@example.org – this looks like a well-managed organisation, perception is of a larger/professional organisation, but not as friendly as some formats above.
email@example.com – unless this is a wind-up, this is probably the preserve of the IBMs of this world, where they may have lots of John Hayes, which is unfortunate for John, and anyone trying to guess Johns email address.
Based on the above it might give some thought of how you might want to be presenting yourself with your email addresses. I am not saying any of the above is wrong, just that your email address can assist in presenting an image, so why not make it present the one you would prefer to represent you.
My final point on this would be one of consistency. With respect to all the comments above, whichever format you choose for your organisation, ensure consistency, i.e. everyone should adhere to the same format. Knowing your domain, knowing your name and understanding the format of emails of your colleagues should make it easy for others to build your email address and make contact with you. If you are in a business where you are trying to speak to more people, then make it easy for people to speak to you. I am not oblivious to the concerns of spam, but I am keen that if anyone wants to contact me, then it should be easy for them to do so. I even have multiple emails set up, allowing people to misspell Rowland (Roland, Rolland etc) forwarded to my main email address.