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Step 1: A guide to domain names

So, you've decided that you want to create a website! Well congratulations, your on your way to taking a step into the future to promote your business or organization.

But, before you get in over your head, or get too excited, let's take a minute to look at the very basic requirements for creating a website.

Step 1: Pick a domain name - Sounds simple enough, right? Well, yes and no. I am in the process of starting a new website for a client who is in the courier business. She was very excited, and her answer to my question "What do you want for a domain name" was "What is a domain name?". Well, it was at that moment that I realized that we really need to take things step by step.

A domain name is the "address" that someone types into their web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox / etc.), to get to a website. For example, Saint Lucie Webs has the domain name www.pslwebs.com.

OK, now that we know what a domain name is, let's look at what makes a good domain name.

First, let's take a look at the "extension". The extension is the abbreviation after the "." in the domain name. There is more than just ".com"'s, and you should be aware that there may be a better choice for your organization than ".com".

There are many extensions available:
.com - used for companies
.biz - used for businesses
.org - used for organizations
.info - used for informational websites
.eu - used for educational websites
.net - used for networking
.mobi - used for Mobile devices
.us - used for US Organizations
.co.uk - used for a Company in the UK

Knowing these extensions may help you better match your site to an extension, but certain extensions have specific requirements, and I'll cover that in another article. For now, we will focus on the extensions that are best suited to businesses and organizations.

Your obvious first choice should be .com. The reason for this, is that .com is the "default"; if you tell someone your have a website, and that it's www.yourwebsite - they will automatically assume that it's a .com, and that will be what they type in their browser first. For this reason, I would modify the name of the site before I picked a different extension, but if for some reason you have to have a certain name, consider .net, .org, and .biz as your next three choices.

Second, avoid special characters such as dashes or spaces, or numerals (1, 2, etc.) in your domain name. If you were to tell someone that your website was "one website", they could think that it was "1 website", "onewebsite", "one-website", "one_website",... well you get the idea.

Third, watch the choice of words and plurals; if you use words that are commonly mispelled, they may end up on a different website. If you don't believe this, try mispelling a popular domain name like facebook.com, and see what else come up.

Third, watch the overall length of the domain name, the longer it is, the harder it is for people to remember, and the better the chances are for typing the wrong address.

Finally, try to use a word from the type of business you are in when you choose a domain name - this helps with search engine optimization.

PHEW!! Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well, just keep these rules in mind before picking a domain name and you'll be fine.