How to Get a Domain Name
First things first, what is a domain name? It is your website’s address - what people will type to find you (ie. Google.com, Facebook.com). You can easily fall into a trap of obsessing over what to name your site, and while it is important, don’t let it prevent you from getting things off the ground. As a guide, keep the following things in mind:
Is my domain name available?
Try typing it in your browser to check. Use the .com if you can. It’s the most widely recognized.
Is my domain name easy to pronounce and spell?
Imagine someone yelling your website over a crowded room. This is how quickly and easily your name should be communicated so that a person can go home (or on their phone) and immediately look you up without any further explanation. A bad example would be former music sharing site Nwplying.com. Though clever, the spelling was much too confusing and its founder, Ustav Agarwal, went on to say
Users misspell it way too often, even the ones using it regularly – and that means you lose out on network effect and app downloads.”
How does my domain name look typed out?
Have you ever looked at something totally un-phallic, yet somehow you see a penis? Then you wonder if it was intended. Then you wonder if anyone else sees the penis, or if you’re just a pervert. Yea, well the same thing happens with websites. Make sure you type out your domain name and show it to a few people so you don’t make mistakes like these.
Is someone already using my domain name?
Don’t try to be sly and use MacDonalds.com hoping people will stumble on to your hamburger site instead. Not only is this a sorry move, but it is illegal. Yep, your ass can get sued says the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). If you’re not sure if your domain infringes upon another trademark, check the United States Patent and Trademark Office for reference.
OK so you’ve selected a domain name and it’s available (YAY!) Now what?
How much will this cost me?
Domain names cost roughly $15-20 per year. If you want a unique suffix other than your usual *.com, *.edu, *.org then it will cost you a little more.
Where should I buy my domain name?
I recommend purchasing your domain name from the same place you will be hosting and building your site. It makes your life easier, especially if you are doing this by yourself without some prior website building knowledge. The minor ducats you save in purchasing domain, hosting, and builder piecemeal, you’ll spend in time transferring the domain or paying someone to do this for you.
In some situations, you may want to purchase the domain name immediately to reserve it, but you’re not quite ready to build the site. Totally cool. In that case, I recommend purchasing your name from:
At one time, they were the only domain name providers on the block so they slacked on their service and were honestly kind of a joke for a while. They’ve since improved and went through a Dominoes-style overhaul (have you seen their online delivery tracker? SO ENTERTAINING.) I’ve contacted their support team on behalf of my clients and can says first hand that they really try to help out their customers.
A lot of people don’t know this, but Google offers domain names (amongst so so many other things). The reason I like them is because it’s easy to connect an email through them as well as set up a Google ID for analytics and other tracking.
With both GoDaddy and Google, I’ve experienced easy transfer and/or linking to a website builder (such as Squarespace or Shopify) when the time came to link the domain name and site together.
So there you have it! My personal thoughts on domain names. Next up, I’ll be talking about the next two steps to getting your website up and running in no time: BUILDING and BRANDING.