You’ve decided the time has come for you to invest in your businesses online presence, however, all you want to do is read through the jargon and get a simple, plain English understanding of what is required to get your business a website? South West Web Design have you covered.
What Is A Domain Name?
In the simplest form of definitions a domain name is a unique set of characters that identifies a specific website address. In a lot of ways, a domain name has the same relationship to a website that a street has to a home, a domain name defines how your customers are able to navigate to your website in the form of a simple to remember address.
When you enter a domain name into a web browser, be it on your phone, laptop or tablet, the web browser accesses a domain name server (DNS) to find the location of the corresponding website on the internet. By doing this it retrieves an IP address to where the website is located and it can retrieve the website and display it to you, this can be comparable to someone giving your co-ordinates to a location and you entering it in your sat nav.
A domain name can be registered with what we call ‘Domain Registras’ where a new registration will mean parting with a few pounds of your money and ongoing every year a small renewal charge.
Choosing The Right Domain Name?
Lets dig into a few of the more technical details to let you better understand the right choice for your business.
First of all, a domain name consists of two parts, SLD and TLDs.
SLD (Second Level Domain): When registering your domain name, this part can consist of any number of alphanumeric characters (a-z, A-Z, 0-9) and hyphens (permitted if surrounded by other characters or digits). No spaces are allowed. For example ‘yourcompany’ in the domain name ‘yourcompany.com’
TLD (Top Level Domain): Back in the day, this part used to indicate the purpose of the whole domain name, or the entity that the domain belonged to. There’s only a finite number of TLDs you can choose from (you can’t input your own as you can with an SLD). For example ‘.com’ in the domain name ‘yourcompany.com’
The most popular TLDs to choose from, along with their originally intended purposes, are:
.com — all commercial purposes
.co.uk – perfect for UK based businesses
.org — organisations (often non-profit)
.net — network projects (whatever that means)
.gov.uk — the UK government
In 2020 however, no one pays too much attention to those intended purposes for TLDs, there is no one forcing you to use a .org when launching a website for a non-profit and there are no rules you need to adhere to when picking a TLD — you can go with whatever seems to fit your requirements and business.
In the end however, what everybody wants is a .com: It’s the most recognisable and the most prestigious TLD of the lot by far, so where possible we would recommend trying to go for a .com domain name. Primarily a lot of people will assume your domain name is a .com when typing it into their web browser so if you can get a .com to mach your SLD do it!
What Domain Registras Would South West Web Design Recommend?
Domain names are the responsibility of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which grants domain registrars the authority to register domain names. If you want to get your own domain, you need to go through one of these registrars to rent the domain name from them.
There are literally thousands of domain registras out there that all, pretty much, offer the same service. But just like any business however there are those domain registras that offer a more personal service, extra services or extended customer service in lieu of charging extra for the registrations they complete.
Having been around for over 15 years, here at South West Web Design we have seen and used a LOT of domain registras and this has enabled us to define our recommendations and our ‘go-to’ domain registras we prefer to use.
If you are looking to purchase a .co.uk domain name for your business or personal use South West Web Design would recommend going with ‘LCN’ which at the time of posting are offering a FREE, with no catches, co.uk domain name for the first year which many of our clients have taken up, just be sure to choose no additional extras when progressing through the order process.
If you are looking to purchase a .com domain name or an alternative TLD for your business or personal use South West Web Design would recommend going with a number of providers we have used over the years, these being, ‘LCN’, PorkBun, or our favourite ‘Namesilo’.
Do You Actually Own a Domain Name?
The process of registering a domain is often referred to as buying a domain, but there’s an important distinction to be made. Registering a domain is more like renting it than buying it.
When you register a domain, you get the rights to use it for the duration of your rental period. In most cases, the minimum registration is one year. If you don’t renew your domain, you may lose access to it.
When you register a domain you retain full rights to the domain for as long as you pay the recurring registration fee. Since your customers or readers rely on your domain to find your website, it’s easy to see why this is so important.
You’ve Purchased Your Domain Name, Now What Happens When Someone Enters Your Domain Name?
Whenever someone tries to visit a given website address, their web browser takes the domain name and translates it into an IP address of the server where the website is being hosted. This IP setup is changed in what is called ‘DNS records’. These DNS records or the full name of Domain Name Server records can be set at your domain registras control panel.
At South West Web Design instead of managing these DNS records individually at each domain name registra we use a centralised system to manage them all easily and effectively. This system is called CloudFlare and is completely free for you to utilise too, we will be going into detail how we use CloudFlare at a later date so stay tuned for that post!
Why Should I Purchase A Domain?
By purchasing a domain name, this enables you to use the domain name of your choice exclusively! A domain name that matches your business name only adds to your brand identity and is lot easier to remember than a mobile number seen on a van for instance. This means you can point the domain name towards any web server in the world that you choose to create your website. You can also use this domain to setup an array of other services including custom email accounts. For example, if you owned abcplumbing.com this means you will be able to setup email address like [email protected] What comes before the @ symbol is completely up to you.
And there we have it, you have learned the basics of what a Domain Name is.