Domain Name

Understanding and selecting domain names

The first thing your website needs is a domain name, which is the unique identifier for your site. It tells the web browser how to find the server where your website is stored. Domain names can consist of letters (English alphabet a to z), numbers (0 to 9), hyphens (-) and an extension (.com, .org, .edu or .net, among others) known as a top-level domain. Each level of the domain name is separated by a dot (.) The most common domain names consist of three levels—hostserver.company.extension, for example www.deli5.com.

All domain names must be registered with a domain name registry service to ensure that names aren't duplicated on the World Wide Web. Registering a domain name costs between $8 and $35 per year. How much you pay for your domain name depends on the registry service you sign up with.

Think of your domain name as an alphanumeric phone number for your website. It's unique—no two phone numbers can be the same—and when a customer dials your number, it connects them to your business. However, your phone number is randomly assigned to you, but you get to pick your own domain name.

Keep these things in mind when selecting your domain name:

Make it meaningful: If your domain name is a sequence of random letters and numbers, you can't expect customers to remember it. However, if your domain name is easily associated with your business, it'll be the first thing that comes to mind when customers want your service.

Keep it short: A long address is harder for customers to remember and to type into their web browser. Imagine having to remember and type www.new-york-fifth-avenue-deli-and-bakery.com every time you want sandwiches delivered for a lunch meeting. Wouldn't you rather type www.deli5.com?

Keep it simple: Some companies use their initials for their domain name, such as www.bn.com for Barnes & Noble. It doesn't lend itself to every name though—the fictitious New York Fifth Avenue Deli and Bakery might not be recognizable as www.nyfadab.com.