Once you have made the decision to have a website, the next step is to choose a domain name. A domain name is the address that Internet viewers use to access your website. Your domain name is your identity on the Internet and is similar to having your own phone number. Essentially, domain names serve as routing addresses on the Internet.
A domain name is an alphanumeric unique name that identifies individual computers on the Internet. For example, Google’s domain name is www.google.com. The characters that are allowed in a domain name include the 26 letters of the English alphabet, numbers 0-9, and hyphens (-). It cannot begin or end with a hyphen, but it may contain one or more hyphens. One does not actually own a domain name, but pays a domain name registrar for the right to use that domain name. Domain names have a suffix or extension, which is based on the type of organization it is associated with. Common suffixes include:
- com – commercial businesses
- org – nonprofit organizations
- edu – educational institutions
- gov – government agencies
- mil – military
Additional domain name extensions include: .biz, .info, .name, .museum, .tv, .coop, .areo, and .pro.
Tips on Choosing a Domain Name
Research proves that the best domain names are often the simple ones – easy to remember, preferably short, and easy to spell and pronounce. When choosing a domain name, considerations include:
- One that is short
- A short domain name is easier for your Internet users easy to remember, write down or to type into a web browser.
- For example, help4parents.org is much easier to remember and is less confusing than minneapolisparentssupportgroup.org.
Other examples of easy-to-remember domain names include: www.msn.com for Microsoft Network and www.cnn.com for Cable News Network.
- One that is meaningful
- Choose a domain name that suggests the nature of your product, service or company name.
- One that is easy to spell and pronounce
- Words that are commonly misspelled or that are confusing should be avoided.
Protecting Your Privacy
When a domain name is registered, your e-mail address, physical address and phone number are published on the Internet in the WhoIs database. This is a requirement of ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is a nonprofit body responsible for accrediting domain name registrars, requires all domain name providers to make your contact information publicly available. ICANN’s ensures predictable results from any place on the Internet are called “universal resolvability.” This is a critical design feature of the Domain Name System, one that makes the Internet the helpful, global resource that it is today. Without it, the same domain name might map to different Internet locations under different circumstances, which would only cause confusion.
This public record can be accessed by anyone 24 hours a day. Information provided includes:
- Domain name holder’s name and address
- Address, phone number, and e-mail address of the domain name contacts
- Date of the domain name registration
- Date of the most recent update to the domain name record
- Date that the domain name registration will expire
- Host name and IP addresses for the domain name servers
Private Domain Registration Options
Case Study: Network Solutions
Network Solutions is a domain name registrar that offers private domain name registration. This service is similar to an unpublished phone number. For an additional fee per year, Network Solutions provides alternate contact information in the public WHOIS listing for your domain name registration, which includes:
- E-mail Address– Your newly created e-mail address changes every 10 days to protect you from people who mine the WHOIS database and sell the information. E-mail received at this address will be filtered for spam and forwarded to your designated e-mail account.
- Postal Address– Your postal address displayed in your WHOIS listing is a PO Box address in care of Network Solutions to stop junk mail and unwanted persons from finding your home. Mail received via Certified Mail® or Express Mail™ will be forwarded to you.
- Phone Number – Your phone number listing displayed in WHOIS will be answered by an answering service that instructs the caller how to contact you via the e-mail address and/or postal address listed in WHOIS.
Domain Name Fees
Annual fees for domain name registration range from $10.00 to $35.00 for .COM extensions depending on the company providing the services and the number of years registered at one time. Additional extension prices vary by company. Listed below are examples of domain name fees and services. Remember: These are just examples and prices may have changed or vary from company to company. It is worth shopping around.
Domain Name Registrars
|Registrar||Annual Fee||Toll Free Support||Private Registration/Fee|
|www.domaindiscover.com||$11.98||Yes||Yes / add $7.79 yr|
|www.godaddy.com||$11.99*||No||Yes / add $9.99 yr|
|www.namesecure.com||$14.95||No||Yes / add $9.95 yr|
|www.networksolutions.com||$34.99||Yes||Yes / add $9.99 yr|
* New .COMs $11.99 per year
- For the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Accredited Registrars, please go to: ICANN Accredited Domain Name Registrars.
- For more information about domain name registration, see: InterNIC – The Internet’s Network Information Center
How To Check If A Domain Name Is Available
Provided below is a method to check the availability of a domain name. Please provide a value for a domain name, including its extension (i.e., “.com”, etc.). Please do not include the “www”. A query on the appropriate WHOIS database will be performed. This lookup may be used on “.com”, “.net”, “.org”, and “.edu” domains. If you have any questions or if you would like help in selecting a domain name, please: contact us.
There are a wide variety of Web sites that offer services to determine if a domain name is available. For example, please go to Network Solutions at the following address and type in the domain name that you are looking for to see if it is available: