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Choosing and buying a domain name

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Perhaps the most exciting and sometimes frustrating part of starting your own business is finding the perfect domain name. Some questions you might be asking yourself are: Where should I buy from? What kind of domain do I need? How do I point it to my website? How much should I expect to pay? How do I find the perfect name? I’ll help answer those questions here (hopefully!)

Remember, your Domain Name is part of your brand identity. It needs to be perfect!

What is a domain name?

Let’s start with the basics:

What is a domain name and why do you need one? A domain name is a user friendly string of text which points to an IP address.

HEY! YOU SAID NO JARGON! OK let’s expand on that a bit…

What is an IP address? IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol’. An internet protocol address is a numeric label which is given to a a piece of equipment connected to a network, for the purposes of identifying it and locating it. When thinking about your website, you are going to set up a nice friendly domain name (such as www.vurny.com) and point it to an IP address (such as 141.136.39.75). As a reasonably simplistic analogy, think of this IP address as the map coordinates directing the user to the actual hosted files of your website. In a similar way to looking for directions on Google maps, you would tend to search for a friendly term like ‘London’ rather than 51.5230° N, 0.0803° W. On the internet we generally use a friendly domain name rather than the IP address for pretty much the same reason.

To go into slightly more detail (which you don’t need to know at this stage so feel free to skim through!) an IP address is made up of a 32-bit number. Which is organised in to four 8-bit sections. WAIT! WHAT’S A BIT!?

I’ll try to keep this as simple as I can (and there are different IP versions now to contend with so please go easy on me!) If you’ve ever seen The Matrix, then you know that the world of computing is made up of 1’s and 0’s called binary code right? A ‘bit’ is simply that; either a 1 meaning “yes” or a 0 meaning “no”. So an 8-bit number is a string of 8 yes’s or no’s, for example: 10001101. Everything in the language of computing is made up of bits. The letter ‘A’ is actually ‘01000001’ in computer lingo as an example.

Bonus fact! We call 8 bits a byte. 1024 bytes is called a Kilobyte (Kb).  1024 Kilobytes is called a Megabyte (Mb). And 1024 Megabytes is called a Gigabyte (Gb). So 1Gb of data is essentially eight and a half billion 1's and 0's! (approximately)

In an IP address we display these blocks of 8 bits slightly differently. For each 8-bit section there are 256 possible values all the way from 00000000 to 11111111, so we display each of the four 8-bit blocks as a number relating to where they fall in the sequence, and seperate these with a decimal point inbetween. So when we write 141.136.39.75, the computer reads this as 10001101 10001000 00100111 01001011. This presents the map coordinates of a specific location it needs to direct the user to.

Finally, before we move on to purchasing a domain name, let me briefly tell you how we connect our friendly domain name to the map coordinates (IP address). Well, we effectively use a translator. The translator is called DNS (which stands for Domain Name System), and there are many DNS servers around the world whose job it is to translate the friendly name into an IP address and essentially direct the traffic. You will need to configure your DNS once you purchase your domain name. I’ll cover this in a seperate article, but for now this is what you need to know:

  1. You will buy a domain name
  2. You will point that domain name to a host IP address using DNS
  3. The IP address directs users from your domain name to your website (or your host).

OK that’s the heavy lifting done! Let’s get on to the fun stuff!

Choosing and buying a domain name

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