A rose by any other name....

Now that we've taken care of the hosting part, let's talk about the name of your site. If you've got one picked-out already, that's great. If not, we'll try to pick a good one for you.

Your domain name is your presence on the Internet. Once your site is set-up it will have an address on the Internet, an IP something like 123.456.789.000. People could get to your site by keying your IP address. But people don't key 12-digit numbers to get to a site. So they invented domain names, like www.Profsr.com, which are business names assigned to the numbers. We also refer to them as URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

First thing to determine is the top-level domain (TLD). That's the part after the dot, the .com, .org, .net

Most commercial companies will use the .com name. The TLD .org is usually reserved for non-profit organizations. You may also elect to use a geographical name like .ca for Canada or .co.uk for the United Kingdom. Some countries have restrictions on who can use their domain names.

The 2 new top-level domains that are opening may be of interest. Look-up .biz which is restricted to business: .biz domain and also, the .info domain which is open to everyone: .info domain. TLDs are regularly being accepted. .name and .pro are two that come to mind. Take a look at The New TLD Program.

If you're interested in finding out more about the subject of domain names, there is a good article at: Internic.com faq.

After you've settled on a top-level domain, you need to find a name for the website.

Here are a few thoughts on selecting the name:

  • Even if you're not using their service, DomainRegister.com have a lot of good stuff you can use. At the top of the page, click on Domain Name Tips. If you use the Search to check the availability of a name, it gives you the option of displaying the WHOIS details. That will show you who owns the name. If you really want it and it suits your business perfectly, you could always contact the people who own the name and try to buy it from them.

  • The name can contain up to 63 characters; it can contain hyphens; the advantage of having a long name is that it can describe the site better and get the search engine spiders to key on the words more effectively; Web-design-computer-programming-tutorial.com gets a lot of mileage because each word is basically a keyword to search engines.

  • Think about how users will get to the site. If they have to actually write it because you advertise in newspapers, for example, shorter will be better because they will have to remember it. If the users will always click on the name from some other web site, it doesn't really matter how long the name is.

  • Some people will suggest that you register variations of the name. For example, get the other top-level domains: if you register yourname.com, register yourname.net also. This is really important if your web site is also your product.

And, register various spellings of the name. I think that's overkill for most people. Of course if your name happens to be Coca-Cola you register Coke.com and CocaCola.com and Coca-Cola.com, etc, etc. But for most of us ordinary folk, let's hope our users can type.

Once you've decided on a host you might as well go through their Domain Registration process. It normally doesn't cost much more and will be easier all around. All hosting services also provide a name registration service, for an extra cost, obviously.

It normally costs around $10 - $20 a year for a domain. You may be able to save $5 by shopping around for a Registration company but, if you have the name registered somewhere other than the host you'll have to go through a whole transfer process and that's a real hassle.

The Domain Registration process is straightforward. You can start by doing a search to see if the name you want is available. Just follow the steps and have your credit card handy to pay the fees. Your domain will be registered within 2 or 3 days, sometimes within a few hours.

Transferring the files

To get all your files from your home computer to the host, you need a special program called FTP (File Transfer Program) that's used to communicate between clients and servers on the Internet.

There are many fine FTP clients available for free.

I use FileZilla which is part of the whole open source environment. Be sure to download FileZilla, the client and not the FileZilla Server (your host has the Server).

Once your domain name is registered and your hosting account is set-up, your host will send you the information you need (a userid and password) to be able to log-on to your site with FTP and transfer all your files.

Remember: your homepage file must be called index.html.