For the uninitiated, getting to grips with the ins and outs of setting up your own website can be a baffling experience, especially when you are as unfamiliar with the terminology as you are with the process. In this post, were going to look at one of the things many people get confused about, domain registration, and explain what it is and how it works.
This is my domain!
One of the most confusing things about domain registration is the actual term ‘domain’. People often ask, ‘What is a domain?’ and ‘How does it differ from a website?’ The best way to understand this is to think about the original meaning of the word ‘domain’. When kings of old said, ‘This is my domain,’ what they meant was ‘this is a piece of land over which I have control’. The same idea applies to the internet. If you want to have a website, you’ll first need to take control of a piece of the internet and this is your domain.
Of course, back in history, when a new domain was laid claim to, it was given a name. Similarly, when you buy a piece of the internet, you give that a name, too – a domain name. And your domain name is the website address, e.g. mywebiste.com
First names and surnames
Like people, domains have two parts to their name. Their first name is individual to them and is what makes them unique. This is usually your business name or, for a personal website, your own name – however, you can have something totally different if you wish. The second part of the name, known as the Domain Name Extension, is a bit like a surname, classifying the type of website or its location; examples include, com (for commercial businesses), co.uk (UK companies), org (non-business organisations) and net (internet-related organisations). There is a multitude of other options available; art, cafe, london, etc., etc. The two parts of the domain name are separated by a dot, e.g. modern.art, swanky.cafe, bestpubin.london, bigbusiness.com.
Unlike human names, no two domain names are allowed to be identical; you will have to pick a name that no-one else has. If someone else already uses the one you want, you are left with two choices: offer to buy it off them or find something different.
How do I get a domain?
To get a domain, you have to register the domain name. The governing body which oversees registrations is called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). However, while ICANN keeps a record of domain registrations, people usually do the registering via their internet service provider, i.e., the company they choose to host their website.
The process is fairly simple to carry out and starts by visiting the host’s domains page to search for a suitable name. If the combination of name and extension you want to use is free, you can register it straight away. If it isn’t you will usually be presented with a range of similar options you can choose from. For example, if you wanted mybusiness.com and found it to be taken, you might find that mybusiness.co.uk or mybusiness.uk are still free. If you would like to give this a try, visit our domains page now and see how it works.
Domain ownership isn’t permanent
Although it’s your domain, you don’t actually own it; you only ever get leasehold. When you register the domain, you’ll pay for either one or two years’ registration and then you’ll need to keep on registering it for as long as you need it. As long as you do this, the domain remains yours and is protected. However, if you fail to re-register, ICANN is at liberty to let someone else register it and this can be catastrophic as anyone who visits your website address may find someone else’s website there instead of yours. Registration is not expensive, ranging from around £7 to £20 a year, depending on the domain name extension you choose.
If you no longer want your domain, you do not need to re-register it at the end of the registration period. However, you are able to sell the domain to any interested parties if you wish. If you have had a particularly successful site with lots of visitors or have a domain name which others may be interested in, you can sell it for a profit. Some domain names go for very large amounts.
What’s the connection between a domain name and a website?
Your website is, essentially, information stored on a web server – a special computer used to send and receive data over the internet. Anyone wanting to access your website needs to be able to connect their device to the web server and, to do this, they need some kind of address. Your domain name acts as that address.
While domain names are very helpful to humans, computers aren’t very good at understanding them. To get around this, each domain name is linked to a specific IP address (a series of numbers that computers can understand). When someone types in your web address in a browser or clicks on a link to your site, the associated IP address is used to find your web pages on your host’s server and send them to the user.
When you set up your website on your host’s server, one of the things you will do is configure the Domain Name System (DNS) settings. These settings are what link the domain name with the IP address of the server so that your website can be found.
Getting your head around domains and domain registration can be challenging when you have not done it before. Hopefully, the information provided here will help you have a better understanding of what they are and how the system works.