Domain Name Registration

So you want to have a presence on the web, but you don’t know how, what to do next, or what all that techno-babble means? No problem, it really isn’t very complicated. In this three-part series, I’ll walk you through the steps required to launch your website.

Generally, there are three steps you need to understand:

1. You need to register a domain name.
2. You need to design and implement the website.
3. You need to get a hosting service.

In this issue, I’ll shed some light on the first step: the domain name. A domain name is a unique name and identifier for your website. Some examples of domain names are yahoo.com, microsoft.com and graphicdesignstudio.net 🙂

Before we go into more detail about domain names, it’s important to understand the concept of a Universal Resource Locator (URL). A URL is a unique identifier for every web page on the Internet. An example of a complete URL is: http://www.apple.com/watch/ “Http” indicates the method your browser uses to fetch the web page. “apple.com” is the domain name. “watch” is the name of a directory of the website.

Every page on your website will contain your domain name as a part of its URL. The extension used on your domain name will typically be .com, .net or .org, although other extensions are possible.

One of the nice things about your domain name is that you get to choose it yourself. Therefore, you’re free to select a name that’s consistent with your organization’s name, or a product or service that you offer. Unfortunately, many of the short and easy-to-remember domain names are already taken. However, with the advent of very popular and effective search engines, your domain name isn’t as critical as it once was.

In any case, you want to select a good domain name. A good domain name is one that is concise, easy to remember, pronounce and type. You can use any combination of letters, numbers and hyphens from two to 63 characters. If your first choice isn’t available, try rearranging the word order, or use hyphens, abbreviations or location to come up with an alternative.

Domain names are managed by companies called domain registrars. Every domain name that is registered must go through an accredited registrar. The best way to tell if a domain name is already registered is to go to the website of a registrar and check. Popular registrars are godaddy.com, register.com or networksolutions.com just to name a few. Other companies may offer domain registration by partnering with a designated registrar.

Once you have picked your domain name you will need to register it so nobody else can claim it. Note that you must renew the registration periodically. Prices for domain registrations vary. The typical annual fee is between $10 and $25.