Domains 101

Being a webmaster means understanding a number of concepts that can seem technically overwhelming.  A large part of the problem for new-comers is the jargon that is used when it comes to website development and design. But aside from the confusing language of the web development world, there are also the fundamental principles of understanding how everything connects. You have to deal with web hosting, web design, domain registrations, uploading, publishing, downloading, graphic design, not to mention all the military-like abbreviations for everything: JPG, GIF, PNG, MP3, PSD, FTP, HTML, PHP, CSS, TLD, SEO, … and the list goes on (and is literally endless).

So with this post, I’ll start with the very first concept anyone should understand before even entering the world of website mastery. Let’s talk about domains.

In order to have a website to be the master of, the first thing you need is your own domain name. This is simply the “whateveryouwant.com” or “whateveryouwant.net”, .org, .biz (and so forth) that you want to use to label or name your website. Your domain is how people will find your website on the Internet. The extensions at the end of a domain (.com, .net, .org) are known as TLD’s – or Top Level Domains.

To begin the process, your domain will need to be unique (no one else using it) and therefore will need to be registered with a domain name registrar.  This registration service provider is also the place where you will eventually associate your domain with the address of the server (an number called an IP) that the domain it is going to be hosted on. Some people call this “pointing your domain to the server”. But the technical and official geeky term for this process is known as “updating your nameservers”.  This updating occurs so that your domain will point to the correct host and therefore will display the website it represents.

Sometimes, when you are trying to register a domain, you have to get creative in choosing other variations of the name you want by using dashes (-) or numbers in your domains because your first choice may already be taken.  Most registrars make the search process painless and even kind of fun.

Having been in this business for so long, I have found that one of the most confusing issues for people arises when trying to understand the difference between DOMAIN REGISTRATION and HOSTING A WEB SITE. Someone who already has a website online elsewhere may ask us, “Can I transfer my website to your company?” (Answer: “Yes.”) Or someone who has already registered a domain will ask: “I registered my domain at GoDaddy. Will I have to register again to host with you?” (Answer: “No”…it is already registered…but “Yes” you can host it anywhere you want.)

Registering a domain, hosting a web site and designing a website are as different as creating a name for your store and deciding where your shop will be located, then filling it with products and displays. While all three of those activities are related, they are very different processes.

There was a time in Internet history when there was only one way to get a .COM, .NET or .ORG, and that was through one organization. It cost us all an initial $70 to own a name for 2 years, then we could renew every year for $35.  Thankfully, things have changed. Not only are there many more TLDs (top level domains) beyond the basic .COM, .NET and .ORG, but now it is much easier and less expensive. You can also register a domain name at any one of thousands of places.

To recap…When you purchase the use of a unique domain through a registrar, the service they are providing you is the ability to to search for and secure the use of an available domain. (You can’t have amazon.com…someone already does.  And you can’t use Kodak.com because it is a registered trademark AND already registered as a domain). Once you find one that you like and is available, the registrar (for a fee), will REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN under your name as the owner for a period of time (depending on what term you purchased) and make that information available to the global community.

When registrars file a domain name registration for you, they need to know 3 basic things:

1. What domain name you are securing (yourdomain.com)

2.Who you are (although you can protect your privacy from the public, the registrar needs to know this.)

3.Where you want that domain to POINT (In other words, what web hosting server you’ll be using for your domain.) If you don’t know this at the time of registering your domain, the registrar will either PARK the domain for you, or provide a default setting that you can change later.

Our domain registration service is called Teknon Domains. Teknon Domains only provides domain related services (no hosting or web design). You can use Teknon to register and manage your domains, and HOST them anywhere you want.

  • Greg Hughes

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