Before getting your web site online on the internet, you will need to register a domain name. A domain name is a familiar web address such as http://www.mywebsite.com/ that the browser needs in order to find the web site in question. In fact, domain names are pointers to a particular IP address and we use the domain name because it is easier to remember than a set series of numbers.
All websites enclose an IP address in the shape of a set of numbers, such as 123.456.78.9. The domain name system then translates all these numbers into a name such as mywebsite.com. All domain names are registered in a central registry upheld by InterNIC, an auxiliary of ICANN – which is the company which certifies domain name registrars. Domain names are also filtered through Domain Name Servers (DNS) which link the IP address with the domain names. Usually, every web site has a primary and a secondary DNS. These duplicates are there in order to increase reliability.
The first step that needs to be taken when registering a domain name is to make the right choice. The name can be nearly anything you fancy, but usually, it is better if the name represents the nature of the website. If you are selling computers, for example, it will help to register a domain name that refers to computers in some way – A1-Computers.com for instance.
Only letters, numbers or hyphens are allowed, which makes choosing a domain name quite simple. Apart from that, a domain name is also limited to 70 characters, but it is preferable to keep the name as short as possible. Your domain name can be in upper or lower case – the case is ignored by the DNS but you can sometimes use a combination to make the name easier to identify. For example, MyWebSite.com is easier to read than mywebsite.com, but both are the same to the DNS.
Also, several extensions are available to you. The most broadly used extension is .com — it has even entered people’s everyday vocabulary as a means to express Internet activity – (I own a dot com business). Other extensions you can use include .biz (for commercial sites), .org (for non-commercial companies), .net (for organisations involved in Internet infrastructure) and .name (for personal names). There are also certain extensions which are more specialized such as .museum, .aero, and .coop and are only used very exclusively by members of certain particular organizations. Further to this, there can also be country code extensions such as .us (United States) or .de (Germany). There are variable rules for using country extensions, so you will need to check with your registrar first to see if they are available to you.
All domains must be registered with an ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) certified registrar. There are hundreds of registrars and their prices can be considerably different. The full list of registrars can be found at the InterNIC website (http://www.internic.net/regist.html). Although most registrars are closely regulated, they are also allowed to offer their services through third parties, so many web hosts can offer a domain name registration service even if they aren’t themselves a registrar. The domain name price will usually be higher when dealing with these third-party services.
A domain names can usually be registered for a minimum of one year, although you can also buy up to a 10-year registration contract. Usually the longer your registration contract is, the lower the price will be, so if you are certain that you will be on the web for a while, you can benefit a great deal from a longer registration period. A lot of registrars also offer a discount on bulk purchases. If you own a large number of domain names you can also save some money if you transfer them all to the same registrar.
Nora Roberts is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.