A website is defined by its URL. Thus, a site hosted by a free service (eg internet service provider) generally has an address like:

  • http://www.yourinternetprovider.com/yourwebsite

This type of address is quite difficult to remember, and an address such as the following is preferable:

  • http://www.yourwebsite.com

Why a domain name ?

A website with its own domain name is much easier to remember. Thus, a visitor will return more easily on a site with a name easy to remember than on a site whith a name extremely complicated.

In addition, a well chosen domain name can encourage word of mouth recommends and allow the site to increase more quickly its popularity.

Finally, a domain name usually gives a touch of professionalism and credibility to a website, and provokes the user a feeling of trust stronger.

Choose a domain name

Given that the domain name should be easy to broadcast, it is essential to choose the simplest possible. It is obvious that a domain name is not a complex list of characters, it must be chosen wisely avoiding the following errors:

  • Choose complicated names
  • Choose long names
  • Use special characters such as underscore characters «_»

In addition, the domain name must:

  • Be pronounceable
  • Have a possible meaning
  • And of course ... be available

Availability

There are tools (provided by the organizations in charge of domain names), called Whois, to check the availability of a domain name or even know the owner.

Buy a domain name

The domain is deposited with an international organization (the InterNIC) or a sub-organizations called "registrars". Its classification - according to website activity (commercial, non-profit, organization network, ...) - sometimes called TLD (Top Level Domain), means typically a geographical distribution. However, there are names, created for the United States at the begining, to classify the area according to the industry, for example:

  • .arpa corresponds to the machines from ARPANET (the original network)
  • .com corresponds to market-oriented companies (but now the code domain not rhyme much and became international)
  • .edu is for educational institutions
  • .gov is for government agencies
  • .mil corresponds to military organizations
  • .net corresponds to organizations related to networks
  • .org corresponds to non-profit companies

On the other hand, some of these domains have sub-domains. For the United Kingdom, for example:

  • .co.uk corresponds to the general use (usually commercial)
  • .gov.uk if for government (central and local)
  • .sch.uk is for local education authorities, schools or community education

Redirect a domain name

It is possible to opt for a redirect. In other words, the domain name is redirecting the user to a specific URL. This type of solution is a compromise allowing webmasters using the services of a free service to benefit from an easy to remember name. However this system does not allow to include the domain name in the address bar of the browser.

Careful with providers providing free redirect because they become owner of the domain name!

Grabbing

Some users take pleasure in buying a large number of domain names. This process, called grabbing is to provide purchasing domain names of some companies and buy before they (eg the extensions .com, .net and .org are not being subject to any control ... ).

With this kind of practice unscrupulous people have managed in the past to sell at exorbitant prices (millions of dollars sometimes) interesting domain names for some companies (usually their own brand). Since then, legislation has hardened and it is rare that a court finds for the cybersquatter.