Part 2: Evaluating Available Technologies
Summary: In this part, we are going to expand and explain some things in more details, tell you more about domain names and how to choose a good one, and explain web hosting technologies and available hosting plans.
What is a domain name?
A domain name, also called website address, is the name that people type in the browser to open a certain website. For example, domain name for Facebook is facebook.com. It's the name by which your website will be known online and the way people can find it.
Getting the right domain name is very important. Just like the name of your business is one of the most recognizable parts of your brand identity in the real world, your domain name will be one of the most important parts of your online identity. It is the first thing that your customers will type in their browser to get to your website or discover it through search engines such as Google or Bing.
Different types of domains
There are many different types of domain names also known as TLD's (top level domains). We all see a few letters added at the end of your website name for example .com, .net, .org. There are also Country Code TLD's that represent code for each country, for example .uk (United Kingdom), .us (United States) and so on.
You might also notice some websites have prefix www and you might wonder if your website needs one. The prefix is simply a personal choice and it won't make any difference if your website has one or not. You can select your preference when installing your software to build the website.
Note: If you choose to go with some free hosting or try one of the hosted website solutions very often you will see your website name will be in this form: yoursitename.hostedsitename.com. This means that you don't have a unique name for your website; rather it's located under a subdomain of the hosted solution provider. You let somebody else own your name and keeping your website name in this form doesn't look very professional.
What is the best domain for my website?
It really comes down to how you want your website and business to be represented online. When it comes to choosing a domain name the possibilities are endless. But there are few rules that we suggest you follow.
- Choose “.com” first - 52% of all websites are “.com” domains.
- Pick a name that is unique - avoid naming your site similar to existing sites.
- Make it easy to type - you don't want your visitors to incorrectly type in your name.
- Try to make it brandable - your domain name will be your brand.
- Shorter is better - instead of JennyTylerFlowers.com go with JTFlowers.com.
- Avoid trademark problems - do the search before you register the name.
- No numbers and hyphens - stay away from them at all costs.
- Marry your domain name - make sure that you love your domain name.
- Check social networks - always check social networks for the same name.
Other domain tips
You might want to protect intellectual property. Domains are relatively cheap; it's a good idea to buy different extensions of that name. If you are buying .com get .net just in case and maybe .us if you are living in United States.
You also might find that a domain name you want is already taken, but not necessarily in use. These are usually referred to as premium domain names. They are domains registered by someone else and offered for sale. There's no way of telling how much a domain is worth on the market. But you can check the auctions like: Godaddy Auction or Sedo. Or if it's not for sale through auctions, you might want to contact the domain owner to see if you can make an offer to buy it. You can use Whois Tool to find the domain owner's contact information.
Note: Most hosting companies also offer domain registration services. Some people keep their domain name with the registrar company, separate from the hosting account. I believe it's easier to keep it all under your hosting account for the trouble-free management and maintenance. But whatever you do make sure your domain is registered under your name, not your friend or web designer who helped you. And if you choose to use separate domain registrar you have login details to the control panel of that registrar company.
Your web hosting plan/package, is a permission that specifies how you are going to use your online space. It does not matter what term you use, they mean the same thing. Very often, web hosting plan is bought together with the domain name, but they function independently, just like your business and your workspace.
To make things more clear, if you think of your web host as your landlord, then paying for your web hosting plan is like paying your lease. Domain name is a part of your business and you can move it any time you want, so you can look at renewing your domain name as renewing your business license. You need them both, and although very often you can take care of them both at the same time, they are two separate things.
New webmasters who are trying to choose a web host often find that they are confronted with a plethora of web hosts that are offering a wide variety of packages. Some web hosts give you a choice of packages using the Linux Operating System (OS) and still others Windows. As a newcomer you might wonder whether the operating system of the package matters, and whether you should choose a Linux or a Windows.
What kind of web hosting plan you choose depends on what your website needs and what kind of technology your website rely on (or will be built on). Just like you would first choose a building, depending on your needs and then pay the rent, so you should decide on your hosting needs and then buy it. With this guide we will try to clear up the confusion that some people might have.
Note: I often hear people say that they are using a Mac, and ask whether there is such a thing as a web host offering Mac packages. By the time you are done with this part, you'll realize that you don't really need to get a web host offering a Mac OS X web hosting just because you're using a Mac. For what it's worth, I don't know of any web host with Mac packages at the time we wrote this guide.