Domain registration may seem like an easy task, but mistakes can be made. Here are my simple pointers to getting it right the first time.
A domain name (like www.thing.com) exists to be an easy to remember English name for an IP (internet protocol) address. An IP address is a 4-12 digit number separated by dots, like 192.168.125.101. For instance, this website is at 126.96.36.199, an address not practical for humans to type into a browser’s address bar.
My domain name is set to “point” at the IP address of my website. I could point my domain at any website that I control on any server because I retain the control over the domain name.
Domain names are governed by ICANN. Ownership of a domain name requires three parties,
- a technical contact,
- an administrative contact
- a billing contact.
When services like About.me or Squarespace or GoDaddy offer to register a domain name for you, they are really offering you to be billing contact only. These companies then act as the administrative and and technical contacts. This means, should you want to move the domain name to another service, you have to get those contacts changed, and this is not always fast or simple. This is a subtle (or not so subtle) means of customer retention. Various services can make is easier or harder for you to take full control over your domain, but why leave that to chance?
Conversely, the services I mentioned above are more than happy to allow you to point your already registered domain to them.
A company that registers a domain name is called a domain registrar. These companies come in two flavors, those that are offering registration as a convenience and those whose core business is registration. Once you have your domain registered with a dedicated registrar, you can do whatever you want with it. This is the only good way to register a domain name and I have seen many bad outcomes over the years when it is done otherwise.
Here is my basic advice
- Register your domain name with DirectNic.
- Make sure to get as many variations as make sense (.net, .org, .biz) at least for the first year. This will prevent squatters.
- Domain names are registered in one year increments. So…
- Make damn sure that someone put the domain expiration date on a shared calendar. Renewal notices can look like spam.
- Make damn sure the credentials for the registrar are known by your business and not only one individual.