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2. Buy domain name

A domain name is the globally unique identifier for a site, and hence is required.

Note that domain names are not bought outright, but are rented exclusively for a period of time. Depending upon who is responsible for managing a top level domain (TLD), like .au, there may be mandatory minimum or maximum durations. In recent years, many new TLDs have been created, and while some are not cheap, they may be useful for honing in on your intended target audience.

Internationalised domain names are now available, though not all hosting services support them. The only proviso is that between the dots (.) of a domain name, scripts cannot be mixed, despite what some registrar domain searches allow. Check on the IANA WHOIS Service search page, where invalid names will not be allowed. IANA is the manager of the domain name system. Note that such domain names may show up in browser address bars as plain Latin characters preceded by xn--. This is alright, as it's a special encoding of the domain name to get around limitations of the domain name system. However, links with the proper characters will work.

While some hosting providers may offer a free domain name as part of their hosting packages, and many sell names as well, because they may have coupled name availability to the continuing use of their package, it is probably better to purchase domain names from a separate registrar, just so there are no impediments to changing hosting provider later on. Web hosting is a cut-throat business and the quality of their services can change over time to a point where continuing with them is untenable.

Conversely, some excellent domain registrars may offer sub-par hosting services, which would have to be changed away from fairly soon after purchase. Also, domain names can be changed between registrars, but picking a good registrar should obviate the need to do so.

This domain is through Namecheap (no kickbacks from them!), and they provide low-cost names with free name privacy. Domain names and their current user's contact details are listed on a public register. Domain name privacy provides proxy details for contact so those user emails addresses are not harvestable for spamming.

Note that Google has been a registrar for many years, yet not to sell them, but to have mass high-speed access to all the contact details of all domain names as part of their mass data gathering. They now offer domain names and while they include free domain privacy, it is not private from them or any other registrar.

Because hosting packages are often tied to the domain name with which they were initially setup, and changing hosting providers in the quickest way usually retains that dependency, perhaps consider having a simple domain name to use for the hosting, and install the one really wanted as an add-on domain, which is the way multiple domains are managed on one hosting plan. It is not uncommon to change domain names as one's interests or business evolves, so being stuck with a name that is no longer wanted can be inconvenient.

This procedure uses Namecheap for illustrating the steps, but it is typical of that used by all registrars, and is provided so you understand what is required. See your registrar's web site for how to perform other domain name tasks, such as renewing a domain name or pointing to a new hosting provider's DNS servers.


[Notes] indicates that the step has learning notes. Click Learning to show all of them. Click [Notes] to show the step's notes.

To buy a domain name:

1Think of a suitable domain name

by considering:

  1. a.The nature of the content, goods or services you intend to provide.
  2. b.Who your intended audience is and what name they are likely to respond positively to.
  3. c.What restrictions may apply, such as trademarks or legal trading names that may already exist.
  4. d.What similar looking variants may need to be purchased, just to prevent others possibly confusing potential visitors into going to another site from yours.

2Search for a domain name  [Notes]

by performing:

2-1If required, navigate to the search page  [Notes]

by clicking on the link to it.

If a registrar also offers hosting or other services, they may present a lot of opportunities and options. There will be a link somewhere on their home page, but you may have to play Where's Wally to find it.

2-2If required, specify the top-level domains

by selecting a radio button option or an option from a drop-down list.

2-3Specify the required domain

by typing into the text box provided and clicking the associated button.

3If unsuccessful, try another domain

by either:

  1. a.Editing the domain name and repeating Step 2.
  2. b.Clearing the domain name by clicking the X button and repeating Step 2.
  3. c.Rethinking the domain name at Step 1.

4Repeat for each extra domain name

by repeating whichever steps apply.

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