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2. Rent a 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 (DNS). 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, and the ongoing renewal cost may be much cheaper. 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 contacts 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 primary domain with which they were initially setup, and changing hosting providers in the quickest way usually retains that dependency, perhaps consider having a cheap domain name to use for the hosting, and install the one really wanted as an addon 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. While some hosters allow changing the primary domain, it must usually be done by them, whereas changing to another addon domain can be done by yourself, even though there are some technicalities. However, there are consequences to changing the primary domain, the least of which is that any email accounts on it will then use the new domain, which may not be what is intended.

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, though a lot of their advertising clutter will have been cut out. See your registrar's web site for how to perform other domain name tasks, such as renewing a domain name.


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The role to perform this procedure is: Site owner.

To rent 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

by performing:

2-1Open the registrar's home page

by clicking on a link to it, or searching for their name.

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

The page is displayed:
Sample uncluttered Namecheap home page

2-2Specify the required domain

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

If unsuccessful, that result will be indicated like:
Sample unsuccessful domain name search because it is already taken
If successful, that will be indicated like:
Sample successful domain name search because it is available

A button to buy the domain will always be nearby, as shown here.

Considering most beauty pageant entrants have been saying for decades that they want world peace, it is strange that this domain name is still available. Who would have known? 😲.

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.

  • Create an addon domain
  • Rent a hosting service
  • Install Smallsite Design
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