There are a number of good reasons for having a domain name:
- If you ever change your web host, your domain name goes with you. Your regular visitors or customers who knew your site name as www.yoursite.com (for example) would not have to be informed about a change of URL. They would simply type your domain name and they'd be brought to your new site.
- If you are a business, a domain name gives you credibility. Few people would be willing to do business with a company with a dubious URL like http://www.geocities.com/whatever/12345.
If you get a domain name that describes your company's business or name, people can remember the name easily and can return to your site without having to consult their documents. In fact, if you get a good name that describes your product or service, you might even get people who were trying their luck by typing "www.yourproductname.com" in their browser.
If you want good sponsors (advertisers) for your website, a domain name is usually helpful. It tends to give your website an aura of respectibility.
Getting a domain name involves registering the name you want with an organisation called ICANN through a domain name registrar. For example, if you choose a name like "example.com", you will have to go to a registrar, pay a registration fee that costs around US$10 to US$35 for that name. That will give you the right to the name for a year, and you will have to renew it annually for (usually) the same amount per annum.
Some web hosts will register it and pay for the name for free (usually only the commercial web hosts), while others will do it for you but you'll have to foot the ICANN fees.
My personal preference is to register the name directly with a domain name registrar rather than through my web host. I've heard stories, in the past, of less-than-reputable web hosts that registered the domain under their own name, making them the owner of the domain rather than you (although I don't know if such web hosts still exist today). Registering with a domain name registrar allows me to make sure that I am registered as the owner, the administrative and technical contacts. Being the owner is vital — if someone else places himself as the owner (such as your web host), he can always decide to charge you some exhorbitant fee for the use of the name later, and there is little you can do. The various other contacts are less vital, but still play important roles. For example, the administrative contact's approval is required before a domain name is transferred out of a web host. If he/she cannot be contacted, the technical contact is used.
Although some web hosts suggest that you put them as the technical contact, you may prefer to keep yourself as one, so that when you want to transfer your name to a new web host, you don't have to wait for your old host to approve the transfer. Apparently a few have been known to take their own sweet time to do this, while unscrupulous ones have actually refused to do it.
Step By Step Instructions
If you want to register a domain name, here's what you need to do. Please read it all before acting.
- Think of a few good domain names that you'd like to use. It won't do to think of only one — it might already be taken (it probably is!).
- You will need either a credit card or a PayPal account to pay for the domain. This is a requirement of most if not all registrars. It will allow you to claim and get the domain name immediately on application. This is not an option (unfortunately).
- If you already have a web host, obtain from your web host the names of their primary and secondary nameservers. Don't worry if you don't understand what these things mean. Just save the information somewhere. The information can usually be obtained from their FAQs or other documentation on their site, usually under a category like "domain name" or "DNS" or "domain name transfer" and the like. If you can't find it, email them.
If you do not have a web host, you can always allow the registrar to you to park your domain name at a temporary website specially set up for you. This way you can quickly secure your domain name before it's too late and still take your time to set up the other aspects of your site. As far as I can tell, many registrars automatically park your domain by default whether you ask them to or not, so if this is your situation, you probably don't have to do anything special to get it done. Some of those registrars also provide you with a free email address at your own domain name while it is parked at their site, like email@example.com (where "example.com" is your domain).
If you need ask questions about this post, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org