Domain Names

(Do you need one?)

We are often asked the question: do I need a domain name?

A "domain name" is a website address, such as "". Typing this into your browser location bar will take you to the opening page of our website. Some companies allow websites to be found without the "www" — rather than

A domain name is a substitute for a series of numbers (such as 123.456.789.10) which are the actual website address -- something I am sure none of us want to repeat to potential customers in the wishful hope that they'll remember it. People in general have enough difficulty with computers and the Web; this simply adds to the confusion.

Domain Name Server

The way it works, in simple terms, is that a number of computers on the Web store domain names and their corresponding numerical website addresses; these are called Domain Name Servers. When you request a web page, your computer queries a Domain Name Server before bringing up the web page.

Your web hosting company will tell you which DNS Server it is using; when you register (that's register, not purchase) a domain name, you specify that DNS Server and, 24-72 hours later, your domain name will now take you to your website.

(Of course, 123.456.789.10 is not the numerical address (and that's not what a domain name server looks like either), but it's by way of an example.

Is it necessary to get a domain name?

The answer is: it depends. If your website is personal, you can do as you will. But a professional or commercial website needs a domain name — for a lot of reasons.

A domain name helps people to find you.

It is imperative to give customers and potential customers a website address that they can both understand and remember. Obviously, a memorable or descriptive domain name is much easier to advertise, give to your clients, or fit onto your business card.

Now, if you have a free web hosting space through your Internet service provider (e.g., Earthlink) or a free web hosting company, the address of your website will be a sub-address of that company. Which looks most professional:

    (ISP-based or free website account)
    (domain name)

As you can see, the first example is ridiculously long and complicated, leaving your customers to try to recall whether it's "http://members" or "http://home dot ... what was it?". You want them to spend their time using your website, not trying to remember where it is.

And remember that you — or your assistants — will have to repeat this lengthy address over and over through the years. You could probably give them paid vacations for the time saved in not repeating such an address! (Just kidding!)

Looking professional. As the thinking goes, if you can't afford to get a "real" domain name (at $7-35 per year) (especially since everyone else is doing it), what does that communicate to people about the stability and professionalism of your company?

Branding. Branding is the effort to get your company name remembered by people. Nike. These companies have branding, because people remember them. Their domain names? and Branding.

Moving your website: you can take it with you

Meaning, your domain name. One of the more important reasons to get a domain name is that your website address and your email addresses will not change if and when you change web hosts.

If you have an ISP-based website address and decide to move your website, your address will change — because it's a sub-address of your Internet service provider.

You'll have to notify your customers, you'll lose your website traffic, all links from other websites to yours will be "broken" (will no longer work), and you'll have the great pleasure of starting over with the search engines and begging people to update their links. This is a quick way to waste years of work in building up traffic to your website.

Not so with a domain name. If you move your website to another web host, your domain name can be updated to take people to your new location. The switch-over takes between 24-72 hours, on the average. Your domain name and email addresses go with you, and so does your hard-won website traffic.

Registering a Domain Name

Domain names can be registered at any one of the accredited Domain Name Registrars. Costs vary, as does the level of technical support. Your web host (the company where your website will reside) may also charge a nominal setup fee.

We advise registering your domain name as soon as possible — millions of people are on the Web now, and domain names are going fast.

A word of caution. While this is far from the norm, unscrupulous persons may "assist" you with your domain name registration — by registering it to themselves and holding your domain name hostage for whatever purposes. Make sure that you are the registered owner; otherwise you could stand to lose the time and/or expense expended in driving traffic to your website.

A domain name is part of a successful Internet marketing campaign. As a part of our website design services, we can help you determine which domain name to register, and have it registered for you. We will also ensure that you or your company are the registered owner, and will provide you with written records from the domain registration company.

Diane Vigil founded DianeV Web Design Studio, has served as a consultant to numerous companies, as a moderator and administrator of the JimWorld SearchEngineForums and Cre8asiteforums, on the Site-Report Experts Panel — and has designed and built numerous websites since 1997.

DianeV Web Design Studio

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