If you’re new to web design some of the terminology can be a bit confusing. One of the terms that it’s essential to learn is “domain name”. Here is our guide to domain names. Here is our guide to domain names.
1. What is a domain name?
A domain name forms part of a website’s web address and related email addresses. For example our domain name is “webfooteddesigns.co.uk”. This gives us the following:
Web address: www.webfooteddesigns.co.uk
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your domain name needs to be unique to your website and registered with a registrar.
2. How do I register a domain name?
There are many websites available through which you can register your domain name. A business offering domain name registration is called a ‘registrar’. They allow you to search to see if the domain you would like is available. If you are based in the UK we recommend that you use a UK registrar. A couple of good options are:
If you are unsure about the domain name registration process and would prefer to have someone take care of this for you, you might consider our Domain Name Management service whereby we register and maintain your domains on your behalf for a small annual fee.
3. How do I choose my domain name?
Make choosing your domain name one of your first jobs when planning a website. Nothing is more frustrating and disappointing than to get a serious way towards completing your website only to find that the domain name you had in mind is already taken.
Heart Internet and other registrars usually have a facility on their website to check the availability of a domain name. If you come to us with your web project we check the availability for you and can advise you on options if it is already gone.
The golden rule when choosing a domain name is to keep it as simple as possible. Put yourself in the shoes of someone trying to remember your website or email address.
4. Should I choose a .co.uk, .com or .org.uk domain name?
The different variations of domain names can be confusing. These are our recommendations:
If you are a business trading solely in the UK then a .co.uk is the best option. It places you firmly in the UK for those thinking of doing business with you.
If you do business internationally, choose a .com as this can help you with your perception as an international business.
Choose .org.uk if you are a non-profit organisation. Please don’t make the mistake or registering a .org.uk domain for your business.
Registering multiple domains
When choosing your domain check whether the .co.uk and .com versions are both available – if so snap them both up as this can help protect your brand. You can easily have them both linked in with your website.
What about all the other options?
It’s true, there are many other types of domain available – .biz, .info etc. Our recommendation if you run a business is to stick to either .co.uk or .com (or both if you can). Those two are the mostly widely used, and if someone is going to make a guess at your web address the chances are they’ll try a variation of your business name with either .co.uk or .com. If you’re very keen to protect your brand, then registering other variations could help that, but it’s not something that we would consider essential.
5. What does it mean to let a domain name lapse?
When you register a domain name it is for a set period (commonly 2 years). This means that the domain is not necessarily yours forever unless you renew your registration when it is due to lapse.
If you fail to renew the registration of your domain when it is due to run out, your website will become unavailable and any related email addresses will stop functioning. Not good for your business!
There is always a grace period before the domain becomes publicly available again, so if you do accidentally let it lapse you can usually pay for the renewal and reactivate it pretty quickly. However, if you leave it for too long there is always the chance that someone else will register the domain instead, making it unavailable to you.
The best ways to avoid your domain lapsing are:
- make sure the email address associated with your domain name account is current so that you receive notifications from your registrar
- when you receive a notification that your domain is due for renewal, log in to your domain account and renew straight away
If you’re worried that you might not be able to keep on top of your domain name registration yourself, talk to us about our Domain Name Management service – we’ll take care of all the nitty gritty for you, so you can be confident that your domain name(s) are always kept up-to-date.