What is a domain name?
A Domain Name is the name of your space on the internet, it tells your browser where to look for your website. It does this through a process called a DNS (Domain Name System) lookup which finds the physical web server belonging to your domain name.
A fully qualified domain name consists of two parts: the domain name (the name you choose) and a top level domain (the extension you choose such as .com or .ca).
Which domain should I choose?
It was once commonly said that to get anywhere online you needed a .com name but these days that’s simply not true. There have been many modern online successes using other top level domains such as bit.ly and last.fm. You should use whatever top level domain will be most memorable for your customers and best describes your services. One exception is if you are registering a country specific domain like .ca or .us. A .ca domain can inspire trust because in order to register one, you need to be a Canadian citizen with a Canadian address.
It’s important to remember that a domain isn’t just branding, it’s something that a user will need to remember and type in to their browser. You should keep your domain as short and easy to remember as possible and don’t worry too much about the specific wording.
What if my domain is already taken?
With so many businesses out there you may find that your preferred domain is already taken. There are two things you can do: choose a new domain, or if the domain is unused offer to buy the domain from the current owner. Domain registrars (domain registration companies like godaddy or uniregistry) are required to hold a public database of domain owners called a whois database. You can use that database to contact the owner of the domain directly to make an offer. If you decide to purchase a domain that is already owned, make sure to use the escrow services provided by the domain registrar, this ensures the transaction will go smoothly for both parties.
Where do I register a domain?
Domains are registered with companies called registrars, they handle registration and most also provide basic DNS service to point the domain to your web server. Most registrars have the same pricing, the main difference is service and ease of use.
Uniregistry is a new company on the scene, they offer an attractive interface that is fast and easy to use. Their DNS service propagates quickly which means your site can be up and running faster. Uniregistry does not believe in upsells, their pricing is resonable and upfront.
Godaddy is one of the largest domain registrars out there. Their interface is a little older and slower but they’re making efforts to imporve that. They offer great customer service and can even make changes to your domains for you. Godaddy tends to try and upsell their customers with extras and promotional emails, which may turn off some people.