Several friends asked about setting up a website so I’m sharing my experiences here in this blog. I wrote an overview earlier. Today’s post is about domain names.
This post isn’t meant to be an exhaustive tutorial on the topic. Its just my notes from what I did myself. It comes with the disclosure that I am in affliate programs for the companies listed here and get a commission if you follow a link here and buy.
The first step is to think of the name itself. Good domain names are catchy, easy to spell, easy to type, easy to understand when shouted across a noisy room, and above all, available. To see what’s available start typing names into the address bar of your browser. When you find one available, check to see what’s close in spelling and don’t forget to see who’s got the .com to your .net!
Other decisions are whether to buy the whole collection of .com, .net, .mobi, etc for your domain name and whether or not to buy common mis-spellings of the name. For example, I bought www.ownmountain.com and www.ownmountian.com for my company because, thinking big, I didn’t want a squatter to take up the frequent mis-spelling. (A squatter buys a domain name for the purpose of re-selling it or putting up advertising to catch people trying to get to a legit corporation. For example, just try without Googling to bring up the site for that airline which takes you from Oahu to Maui.)
Also consider whether you want private domain registration, where the registrar is listed as contact and passes any messages on to you. I find private registration is a comforting alternative to having my name, physical address, phone and email listed in the whois directory for every web robot to find.
Once you have an idea for a name, you need to work with a company to register it which will give you the exclusive international rights to it. I’ve worked with three different companies in the domain name space now: www.GoDaddy.com, 1and1 , and Host Gator. They each have pros and cons in my mind. You may want to read this whole article and a yet-to-be posted article on web hosting before deciding which company to go with.
www.GoDaddy.com offers low cost domains. Their site makes it easy to check availability of multiple domain names and load up a cart. Their interface helpfully suggests getting the .net .mobi .us etc for whatever name you’ve picked. That is great for defending your company brand but keep in mind that each checkbox is another charge for the domain and for godaddy private domain registration. The other difficulty I have with godaddy is the site is very busy. Maybe its because they were my first domain registrar and I am imprinted with a confused first impression but I have a hard time sorting out at a glance whether a link takes me to a product to buy, a product I already own, or a mature content commercial.
1and1 has a very clean interface. I like it and I especially like that they include private registration in the price of the domain. Best of all, now that I have an account open with 1and1, in just a couple clicks I can own any available domain that comes to mind. 1and1 is the vendor I use most often to reserve a domain name.
The other vendor I use is Host Gator. I haven’t yet tried to reserve a domain with them, largely because the buttons to do that are not apparent as I use their interface. I really like them for hosting though and plan to write more on that in a later post.