A map showing the geographical location of international TLDs

There are many options for the URL of your website. There are a few general rules, however:

    .com domain names, unless unusual and / or long, are harder to gain than .ca domains (most of the obvious ones were taken during the “.com bubble”)

    The longer and more unusual the domain name, the less likely it is to be visited. Remember that you will not only provide the URL of your site online, but on business cards and in verbal communication. The simpler the domain name is, the fewer mistakes will be made in typing the URL.

You’ll pay anything from $5 to $50 a year for registration of a domain, depending on the type and registrar. Look for longer leases on the domain name (two to five years), which tends to reduce the cost per year.

It is important to note that you do not need to have a website ready to host immediately after buying your domain. You can “park” your domain name without an associated site if you want to, for years. (You may want to look at your domain registrar’s policy for this – some will host an advertising page at your URL if you do not use it. Most domain registrars will simply provide a “Server not found” response to a domain that is owned but not used.)

The domain registrar you use is entirely up to you. My personal preferences are hover.com and gandi.net; I would strongly advise against godaddy.com*.

Many domain registrars also provide web hosting, but you do not need to purchase hosting from the same company with which you register a domain.

When you register a domain, you will be asked for several details, including Administrative and Technical Contacts for the domain. Essentially, these are the parties responsible for the domain name. If there are disputes or questions over ownership of the domain, it is these entities that are the presumed owners. Unless instructed otherwise, you, as the web developer, should provide your own details in each case.

Many (but not all) hosting providers will also provide a privacy option for this information. Use it – otherwise, your contact details become public knowledge from a simple internet whois request. Avoid registration companies that charge for this service.

Finally, you will be asked for DNS information. Very simply, these are the authoritative servers that will locate your hosted web site. It is likely that you don’t have this information yet, so leave it blank when you register the domain and return to fill it in later when you are ready to host your site.

* For a number of reasons: GoDaddy’s history of terrible, sexist advertising; the public statements and activities of their executives (encouraging torture, killing elephants) and their unethical business activity, including domain poaching.

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