Chapter 5: Your Domain Name

Domain names deserve a lot of consideration. In addition to being your address on the web, they will (at least, they should) appear on all of your advertising, your letterhead, packaging, vehicles, and products. You and your employees will verbally communicate your name, time and time again. Your “music on hold” system and any broadcast advertising you do should say your web address.

Domain names deserve a lot of consideration. In addition to being your address on the web, they will (at least, they should) appear on all of your advertising, your letterhead, packaging, vehicles, and products. You and your employees will verbally communicate your name, time and time again. Your “music on hold” system and any broadcast advertising you do should say your web address.

In this chapter we’ll give you the parameters for choosing a name, we’ll outline registrars to use and the mechanics of obtaining a domain name and we’ll list considerations to keep in mind when choosing a domain name.

Domain Names Defined

A domain name is your address on the web. The proper name is Uniform Resource Locator, commonly called a URL (pronounced “you – are – ell”) or “url” as in the Duke of Earl. Other names that mean essentially the same thing include web address, website or site address, “location” (used on some browsers), or just plain address.

The complete domain name, e.g., http://www.fullname.com, is composed of several parts. The first part – http:// – means HyperText Transfer Protocol, the protocol used to link text on the web. The “www” means World Wide Web, the portion of the Internet you are accessing. The last part – fullname.com – in our example, is known as the upper domain. This is how particular sites are found on the web.

For those with a technical bent, the upper domain is actually an alias for your Internet Protocol address, or IP address for short. An IP address is kind of like a phone number that follows the format “x.x.x.x” where x = a number between 0 and 255…123.45.67.89, as an example. The upper domain is listed in router tables around the world that equate your domain name to your IP address. When someone enters your domain name in their browser, routers keep routing the request for your web page to other routers that keep the request moving toward, and ultimately to, the machine that serves your domain name.

Domain Name Choice Parameters

Domain names may be 2 to 62 characters long (not including the suffix, .com for example).

Domain names may consist of any combination of letters and numbers and the “-” dash punctuation character.

Seven upper level domain name suffixes currently available include .com, .net, .org, .edu, .mil, .gov and .sci.

Two character domain names are country codes; .us for United States of America, .de for Deutschland (Germany), and so on. A complete list of country codes is provided in Appendix B.

Upper domains are not case-sensitive. You can mix upper- and lower-case letters, as in KleinInternet.com. I recommend you use capital letters to help visually break domain names into discrete units, like ProgrammerHelp.com and theBubbler.com.

You cannot necessarily do the same with prefixes in email addresses, e.g., PreFix@name.com will not work if the email address is actually prefix@name.com unless the mail server has been specifically setup for non-case sensitive email.

Additional content covered in the print edition of WebForging includes a paragraph to a page or more on each of the following:

  • Registrars
  • Domain Name Choice Considerations
    • Match Your Company Name
    • “Dot-Com” Preferred
    • Abbreviations – Shorter is Not Necessarily Better
    • Geography
    • Numbers and Number Acronyms
    • Using Your Domain Name in Print
    • Do NOT Reserve Competitors’ Company or Brand Names
  • Multiple Domain Names
  • The Mechanics of Searching for a Domain Name
  • Registering Your Domain Name
    • Be Sure You are Listed as the “Registrant”
    • Register Using Your Proper Company Name
Final Thoughts

When you register your name, have the IP address available at which your site will reside. If you have a vendor doing the registration, they’ll know the address.

Bear in mind that it is possible to change domain name registration contacts (names, addresses, phone numbers and so forth). Remember, the contact listed as the registrant has ultimate control over the use of the domain name. Your business, not your web vendor, should be listed as the registrant.

While changes are possible, they often require repeated phone calls, faxes, and emails, not to mention notarized forms and time-consuming manual processes to complete. Consult your vendor or team members before you register names.