November 29, 1999
The Name Game
Stake your claim with the right domain name
To be in business, you know you need a phone number and an ad in the Yellow Pages. But a new generation of consumers uses the Yellow Pages to prop up computer monitors and turns instead to the Internet for information. An Internet presence for your business is becoming rapidly as essential as your business phone number.
In the meantime, it's becoming less acceptable to have a Web site address with half a dozen backslashes and directory names. You need something succinct and memorable. Here's a primer on picking and registering your domain name.
Names 'R' Us
Domain names are going fast, so you may need to be creative when choosing a name. Make a list of possible names (the standard is "yourcompanyname.com"), then check to see if they're available. Network Solutions Inc. (also known as Internic) is currently responsible for registering all .com domains. Visit Internic.net, type in the domain name you want (excluding the "http://," "www" and "com") and hit "Go!" If the domain is available, the search will return "No matches" and you're in luck. If the name is already registered, try a "WHOIS" search to find contact information for the domain's current registrant.
Before registering a domain, you or your Webmaster must specify a server which will host your domain. In other words, an Internet service provider (known in Web-speak as "ISP") must provide a computer server to physically store all data, including your domain, Web site files and e-mail. To have a domain name hosted, you'll need to secure a commercial account with an ISP. (This usually costs between $15 and $30 per month, in addition to your regular dial-up fee, which is usually about $20 per month). Before you register your domain name with Internic, contact your ISP of choice and ask to speak to the person in charge of commercial accounts and domain names. Ask that person to give you a contact name and address and primary and secondary IP addresses, which you'll use when you fill out your Internic registration form. (The "contact name" is usually the name of the technical person who works for your ISP company. Internet Protocol addresses, or IP addresses, are strings of numbers, such as 128.68.543.32, that identify your ISP's server and route requests for your domain name to the proper place.) If you want to register the domain name but don't have an ISP yet, some sites will allow you to "reserve" the name and host it on their servers temporarily for a nominal fee.
Master of Your Domain
As you take your first steps toward establishing a Web presence, consider the following tips on choosing a domain:
- You can use up to 22 characters in the part of your domain between the www and the .com or .net.
These 22 characters may include numbers, letters or the hyphen character only. Capitalization doesn't matter, and spaces or underscores can't be used.
- For multiple word names, try searching with and without hyphens between the words.
- If your name is taken, consider adding "online" or another trendy modifier to the end of your name. (Other suggestions: "diamonds," "since1899" or the name of your town. Also consider abbreviating your name or play with variations of "jewelry," "jewelers" and "fine jewelry.")
- If you can't decide on a single name, you can register two or more and link them to the same Web site just like having multiple phone numbers which ring on the same phone. (It's only $70 to register a domain name for two years with Internic.)
- Be sure your domain registration package includes one or more e-mail addresses for email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. For a professional presentation, it's critical that your Web site domain name and e-mail address domain name are consistent.
- If you're working with a consultant or design firm to register your domain, insist they document your rights to your domain name registration in writing.
- by Craig Bonsignore
Craig Bonsignore and his wife Alisa are co-owners of Bonsignore Design, a company in Fremont, CA, specializing in Web design and consulting for the jewelry industry.